By Papisdaff Abdullah
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Julius Maaba Bio, says His Country recognizes with great admiration the successes of Ghana and converts a strong partnership with her as Sierra Leone, takes steps to scale up her own development.
The Sierra Leone leader made the accession when he addressed the press at the foyer of the Jubilee House together with President Akufo Addo. President Julius Maaba Bio, is on a two-day State visit to Ghana, his first such visit to Ghana since assuming office as President of Sierra Leone in May this year.
On education, President Maaba Bio, said upon assuming office his administration decided to emulate President Akufo Addo’s Free SHS policy here in Ghana and has subsequently implemented “Free Senior High School” in Sierra Leone. He indicated that his country is also following keenly, Ghana’s agriculture policy and her fight against corruption. It is his hope that Sierra Leone will follow suit and implement same policies for his country’s development.
“By any stretch of imagination, Ghana is a great country, one of the first Countries to gain independence. You have made a lot of strides, you have had a lot of obstacles, but you have been able to overcome. Today Ghana is way ahead. Ghana has been with us at difficult times and at this point in time as we prepare to start our own development process proper, I am here to let you know that we acknowledge the fact that you have made admirable strides and we think that we should learn from your experience” President Maaba Bio said.
“With the war, Ebola, Mudslide and a host of others things, we have been held back but we are determined and are a resilient country. We are determined to forge ahead. But in doing so you must have good friends. We identity the Republic of Ghana as a friend that we can count on” President Maaba Bio added.
President Akufo Addo
President Akufo Addo in his remarks said his Sierra Leone Counterpart, President Julius Maaba Bio, since assuming office some seven months, has already started putting his imprints in Sierra Leone and on the African continent. President Akufo Addo emphasized that Ghana stands ready to support every effort of the government of Sierra Leone in her development agenda.
The two leaders before addressing the press held bilateral talks to discuss specific areas of cooperation. A joint communique was subsequently issued. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, signed the Communique on behalf of Ghana and the Minister Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, Dr. Alie Kabba, signed on behalf of Sierra Leone. The fourteen paragraph communique was subsequently read by Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. It read in part as follows:
“Both leaders reviewed the state of bilateral relations and observed that the current level of trade between the two countries was low and required new and additional measures to improve the volume of trade. They noted the need to strengthen commercial relations between the private sectors of the two countries and called for the facilitative role of the two Governments in bringing the private sectors together”.
“Both leaders reiterated the importance of education as a long-term development tool and recalled the implementation of the Free Senior High School programme in Ghana and the recently introduced Free Quality Education policy of the Government of Sierra Leone. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo assured President Julius Maada Bio of the Government of Ghana’s commitment in sharing her experience and expertise on the Programme with the Government of Sierra Leone as it begins the implementation of the Free Quality Education policy for primary pupils and secondary students”.
“President Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that the Government of Ghana will carefully consider the request of the Government of Sierra Leone for technical assistance in the form of experts in the area of technical and vocational education training and will work with the Government of Sierra Leone on the modalities for implementing the request”.
“Both leaders noted the importance of quality health. President Julius Maada Bio expressed appreciation for the capacity development assistance that the Government of Ghana was providing, in collaboration with Médicins Sans Frontières, for nurses from Sierra Leone who were undergoing top-up training in Ghana. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana was prepared to work with Sierra Leone to develop arrangements for an overseas medical personnel deployment programme to help the Government of Sierra Leone meet her health needs”.
“Both leaders stressed the importance of food security and discussed the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme in Ghana and the new commercial agriculture policy of the Government of Sierra Leone. The two leaders noted the need for national food security and the alignment of national food security strategies with the ECOWAS Regional Food Security Reserve, which is part of the Regional Agricultural Investment Programme”.
“The two leaders noted the importance of cooperation in the area of energy. H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana would consider providing technical expertise to Sierra Leone in the Energy Sector”.
“Both leaders discussed the fisheries sector of the two countries and expressed the need for greater cooperation in the sector and as well as enhanced collaboration within international fora such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The two leaders requested the Ministries of the two countries responsible for fisheries to forge stronger links of cooperation”.
“The two leaders recalled the General Cooperation Agreement signed between the two countries for the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation and pledged to work towards the convening of the First Session of the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation as soon as possible, to enable the varied areas of cooperation between the two countries to be enhanced under a unified framework”.
“The two leaders discussed the African Continental Free Trade Area and noted its immense benefits on trade expansion, job creation and national welfare gains for all African countries. Both leaders expressed optimism about the operationalization of the Agreement. The President of Sierra Leone indicated that the Government of Sierra Leone will soon complete the national ratification process and deposit her instrument of ratification with the African Union Commission. The two leaders affirmed their commitment to pursue the agenda of an Africa Beyond Aid”.
“The two leaders reviewed the state of peace and security in the Region and noted the need for holistic measures and concerted action in addressing threats to the peace and security of the Region. They emphasized the need to address the root causes of extremism and terrorist violence in the Region. They pledged the commitment of their two Governments in countering terrorism and extremism in the Region”.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the commitment of the two countries to cooperate at the level of ECOWAS, the African Union, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations and to deepen the shared values of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights”.