Sierra Leone`s Foreign Minister Pays Courtesy Call On WTO Director General

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, His Excellency, Professor David John Francis, has paid a courtesy call on the new Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala at WTO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

Professor Francis on behalf of the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio congratulated Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala on her appointment on 15 February 2021 and the assumption of office on 1 March 2021 as Director-General of the WTO, and commended her leadership and dedication on the ongoing subsidies, agriculture and trade negotiations at the WTO.

His Excellency extremely thanked the Director General for championing Covid-19 vaccine equity and access for all initiative.

The Hon. Minister outlined that the priority sectors identified by the Director General’s office are also identified as priority sectors of focus by the government of Sierra Leone- agriculture, fisheries, trade among others.

Professor Francis reiterated Sierra Leone’s desire to continue receiving technical assistance and capacity-building support in fisheries, agriculture, e-commerce.

In her short remarks, the World Trade Organization, Director General, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala applauded Sierra Leone`s efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the country`s experience obtained from the Ebola outbreak has prepared the country to better respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ngozi said the task force for the COVID-19 pandemic composed of Heads of Prominent International Organizations working on delivering results interns of increased vaccine production volumes in the short term as well as longer term investments in vaccine production and enhancing the trading system`s contribution to the pandemic preparedness.

The Director General reiterated her office`s commitment to providing the necessary technical and capacity building support in the field of agriculture, fisheries, and trade to the government of Sierra Leone.

Dr. Ngozi also commended the government of Sierra Leone for adopting a human capital development strategy across sectors.

Both the Honourable Minister and the Director General expressed that the meeting will serve as a basis for continued partnership and dialogue aimed at delivering results in the areas of common interests.

PUBLIC REVIEW ARTICLE

THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

 Land of Gold, Iron, and Diamonds!! Nar Way Dem?

“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on the 26th August, 2021 filed an indictment against DANIEL KAPRI SESAY, a Mines Compliance Officer of the National Mineral Agency (NMA)….According to the particulars of the offence, Daniel KapriSesay …accepted an advantage for himself in order to make use of his influence to obtain a benefit from a public obtain… (Accepted) the sums of $5,000… $2,000 and $300…. to… facilitate the release and conveyance to Dubai, United Arab Emirates 15 kilograms of gold valued $350,000…”: ACC Press Release (ACC/PR/21/029, 30th August, 2021).

A couple of days ago, when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) put into the public domain that above Release, there has been less than 1% comment on it in the over 100 Whatsapp forum I am subscribed to.  That relative silence on what is happening to our mineral resources reflect to me the diseased mindsets of most Sierra Leoneans.  If that was a sex scandal, it would have generated hundreds of prose and audio comments.  If it was a story of $1,000,000 allegedly stolen from the finance ministry by a deputy finance minister, it would have been emblazoned on the front pages of many local newspapers.  But, a corruption story on “gold” by a “Mines Compliance Officer”…. – it has little news value to nearly all Sierra Leoneans.   For even the educated trapped in offices in Freetown  don’t seem to care what happens (what has been happening) to the vast mineral resources of Sierra Leone – gold, diamonds, titanium, iron ore, bauxite…. 

From the 1930s to the present,  we have been mining diamonds in Sierra Leone.  For about 40 years, the British and South Africans in the Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST) company dug into our ground and unearthed millions of dollars, maybe, billions of dollars, worth of the best jewelry diamonds in the world.  We don’t know exactly how much.  There are mines monitoring officers or mines compliance officers like KapriSesay in the ACC  Release who would be employed by government to seek the interest of the people.  They are supposed to be people of highest integrity – who would not be bribed; who would not be compromised.  Have they been?  How would they be chosen?  Are they known by the societies they have lived in to be honest people? Now, that a Daniel KapriSesay has been indicted by the ACC, can the print and electronic media turn the spotlight on him, and all such mines monitoring officers, and ask questions about them?

Going to each of the major mining companies over the past ten or so years with video documentary crew, and talking with local and foreign professionals working in them, I have this suspicion that Sierra Leone does not have the technology, or, the honest human resources, to know exactly the quantity of gold, diamonds, titanium, iron ore, bauxite being mined and exported out of the country.  They take with child-like naivete what these mining companies tell them they would export.  And the mining companies apparently compromise the government-

employed mines monitoring officers.  Successive parliaments don’t seem to care much about what goes on in this sector.  I find it pathetic that while mining companies could have been openly stealing our vast mineral wealth to the value of billions of dollars, governments would publish triumphantly “the IMF has given Sierra Leone a loan of $350,000,000!!”.

The National Minerals Agency (NMA), where Daniel KapriSesay works,  was established when the APC held on to the reins of the presidency between 2007 and 2018. They exist to Administer and enforce the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009, and other Acts and related regulations related to the trade in minerals.  The NMA’s website states they have a “library” that

“holds a huge volume of geological literature, bulletins, memoirs, short papers, maps, print and electronic journals, mining laws and documents to support bibliographical services to internal and external stakeholders”.  Typical sterile language.  Largely, the NMA has been conducting its business in secrecy – like nearly all strategic  government agencies like the National Revenue Authority, NASSIT, Bank of Sierra Leone, etc..

When I write often on the “slave mentality” of Africans, especially Sierra Leoneans, it is a diagnosis of  a virulent mind-disease of the African.  Our country has been endowed with highly marketable mineral resources; some of the best fisheries and marine resources in our territorial ocean space… yet, almost since Independence in 1961, Sierra Leone has been ranked among the 20 poorest country in the world.  A disgraceful paradox!  Can Sierra Leoneans wake up; rise up; and stop screaming ‘APC….SLPP…’ only for the majority of the citizenry to continue being dirt poor from generation to generation?

Most Sierra Leoneans are not even aware of significant gold deposits in Sierra Leone. “Global sales from gold exported by all countries totaled US$395 billion in 2020, up in value by an average 20.8% since 2016 when worldwide gold shipments were valued at $326.9 billion. From 2019 to 2020, the value of globally exported gold appreciated by 29%…. The 5 biggest gold exporters (Switzerland, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States) were responsible for 45.9% of globally exported gold.”  (SOURCE: Gold Exports by Country 2020 [worldstopexports.com]). The sad situation of international finance and economics is that those biggest gold exporting countries hardly mine gold.  Not even the largest producer of gold in West Africa, Ghana, is among the big five companies exporting gold.  That is why I have often written that the Atlantic Slave Trade continues in a disguised and benign form.  Are Africans listening to me? 

I pause,

Oswald Hanciles, The Guru

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