Bio To Return With Goodies

  • More Chinese Investors
  • Lungi Bridge
  • Fishing Harbor
  • 200 Buses
  • Agriculture
  • Roads
  • Tourism

His Excellency President Bio and a high-powered delegation of Government ministers and functionaries are expected to return home this Friday after an extended visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of the Chinese President.

President Bio’s visit should be seen by the nation in the light of the fact that since the start of the 21st century, China has grown to become the biggest development partner and contributor to Africa’s development in terms of infrastructural and economic development, trade manpower training, health, cultural exchange, among others interventions.

The former Sierra Leone Embassy in China Press Attaché, John Baimba Sesay, notes that China is unique amongst donors in having a mechanism, FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) that provides a platform for strategic development cooperation between China and Africa, adding that it is crucial for the government to take decisive actions to explore opportunities for economic cooperation with China.

With the Bio government actively seeking to diversify the economy in order to make it more productive and with China ready and willing to help African countries overcome poverty and under-development through a win-win bilateral relationship, development and cooperation between Sierra Leone and China which goes back forty-seven years remains important for the country’s continued growth.

As such, in seeking deepened Chinese public and private assistance for the country’s development, President Bio and his delegation that includes the Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Chairman of the National Privatization Commission, Chief Minister, Minister of Information and Communications, among others. After attending the China-Africa conference this past weekend, the delegation is spending more time in China striking deals that would help the ‘New Direction’ Government in delivering on the promises made to the people during the 2018 national elections.

Reports from the President’s communication team indicates that Bio will return home triumphantly this Friday with an impressive and enviable development package by courtesy of the Chinese Government and people that includes an array of credible Chinese investors that will help his government to diversify the economy away from the country’s traditional dependence on minerals for jobs, incomes and exports.

Already, it is reported that President Bio has gotten the commitment of PowerChina International Group, a major Chinese international construction company, to come to Sierra Leone this October to do feasibility study for the construction of Lungi Bridge. The advantage of building the proposed Lungi Bridge that will encompass expansion of the airport and establishment of an economic free zone is that it will remove the encumbrance that international travelers crossing the estuary from the airport to Freetown. Also, with Freetown congested, the bridge will open up Freetown to the vast unoccupied lands lying in Port Loko district.

Furthermore, the Lungi Bridge will critically complement the expansion of the Freetown port that is ongoing to become a regional transshipment hub for landlocked countries in the sub-region. The Lungi Bridge will save travel time between Freetown to Port Loko, Kambia and onwards to Guinea.

With the World Bank having estimated that Sierra Leone has the potential earn up to US$50 million annually from fisheries, another area of the economy that President Bio is reported to have signed a deal with the Chinese Government is the construction of a modern fish harbor in Freetown that is crucial for ensuring the standard of sanitation required by the EU and other countries for the export of Sierra Leone’s marine products. Already, China had promised to help Sierra Leone to protect its waters as well as direct investors in the sector to the country.

In a related development, President Bio is expected to announce firm commitments from the Government of China for investments in the country’s agricultural sector in the area of rice production for home consumption and export as well as investments in agro-industries. The former Central Bank Governor noted that growing enough rice at home to feed a growing population will save the country at least US$150 million annually in foreign exchange.

President Bio is also expected to return home with news that his government has struck a deal with a private company in China to deliver 200 buses to the country on a public-private partnership basis. The availability of a big fleet of multipurpose buses in the country will ease transportation in Freetown and the other cities, as it will also facilitate safe highway travel to other parts of the country, whilst at the same time they will serve as a significant revenue generation business for the government.

China during the ten years of ex President Koroma’s government contributed a lot to improving the country’s road infrastructure with maintenance of key roads in the capital Freetown, and construction of the Regent to Jui highway which has greatly reduced congestion and travel time between west and east Freetown. More first class quality roads linking the different parts of the country, especially the productive areas, will not only boost economic productivity but will also reduce travel time and cost especially for traders and farmers.

Another area that the ‘New Direction’ manifesto says this government will focus on in its attempt to diversify the economy is tourism. China today is the biggest tourist nation in the world, with Chinese the largest number of tourists to Africa. President Bio is expected to announce tourism agreements signed with the Chinese private sector.

 

By: Murtala Mohamed Kamara