Presidential Lodge, Hill Station, Freetown, Thursday 26 May 2022- The United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean has paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio where she praised his leadership that has seen some remarkable development in the country.
Victoria Grace Ford, a British politician, also thanked the President for the many reforms, she noted, would add to the attainment of modern democracy, adding that the Free Quality Education initiative was particularly crucial, especially with premium on women and girls now pursuing courses in the sciences at higher institutions of learning.
“Your Excellency, thank you for your leadership. This is so amazing. Even in the midst of the Coronavirus, you were able to do what many developed countries couldn’t do. That is the right thing to do. The establishment of the One-Stop Center, the Gender Empowerment Law, the Sexual Offences Model Court, the repeal of the seditious libel law and most importantly, the abolition of the death penalty,” she noted.
In his short remarks, President Dr Julius Maada Bio thanked the visiting minister and the UK government for their continued support to the country, adding that Sierra Leone was a beacon of stable democracy that was providing a template for development for other West African countries.
He also noted that despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 and the war between Ukraine and Russia that was adversely affecting economies around the world, Sierra Leone had not used that as an excuse for not making change and development.
“Over the last 4 years, my government has championed Gender Equality issues and has placed it at the heart of its New Direction agenda. The new Gender Empowerment Bill has enshrined a commitment to 30% of public appointments going to women. The ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ initiative by the First Lady is tackling child marriage and sexual violence through public awareness and advocating for stronger sentencing to end female genital mutilation for those under 18 years, by actively engaging traditional leaders. Also, the Munafa Fund is providing SMEs with micro-finance of which 70% are female-owned,” President Bio explained.
The President asked the UK government to support the new AgriTech4Africa partnership, saying that rapid adoption of agricultural technology and innovations, specifically tailored to the needs of the African smallholder farmers, was key to meeting the food needs of Africa and the world.