From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

FEATURES
President Kabbah's Speech at the Opening of the New Offices of the European Union in Sierra Leone
By President Kabbah
Jan 30, 2006, 15:14

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT ALHAJI DR AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF NEW OFFICE COMPLEX OF THE EUROPEAN

COMMISSION DELEGATION

JANUARY 30TH 2006

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SALUTATIONS

I am delighted to join you all here today on the occasion of the formal opening of the European Commission Delegationís new office complex. This event marks a significant milestone in Sierra Leone-EU cooperation. The complex is impressive, and seems to provide a conducive environment in which to work. For us the construction of this complex is one more indication that there are brighter days ahead for our mutual cooperation with the EU.

Todayís event is particularly significant for me as President of this nation. Over the years my interaction with European Union representatives here and during numerous visits to the European Commission itself in Brussels, have led me to conclude that the EU is a committed and reliable partner that is proactive in working with us for the development of Sierra Leone.

Our relationship with the EU dates back to 1976, a year after the signing of the First Lome Convention. Over the past 30 years, the EU has worked in a fruitful partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, in pursuance of our development aspirations.

I note, with deep satisfaction, the considerable assistance the EU has rendered to Sierra Leone in virtually all sectors of development. It did so before, during and after our long and destructive rebel war. Specifically the EU has provided extensive support to the building of infrastructure, as currently evident by the ongoing work on various trunk roads including the Masiaka-Makeni Road, Freetown-Conakry Highway, the Masiaka-Bo Road, the Koidu-Kurubonla Road, Pendembu-Kailahun-Koindu Road, Makeni-Kamakwei Road. In the pipeline the EU and Government are cooperating in the construction of the Songo-Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Road and the Kabala-Kurubonla Road. In addition the EU is assisting in the construction of 600 km of feeder roads in Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and Kenema Districts. All of these represent great contribution towards achieving our expressed goals of attaining food security and reducing poverty in Sierra Leone. In addition, the EU has rebuilt and refurbished SLRA buildings in Bo, Kenema, Port Loko and Western Area, and will soon do the same in Mile 91 and Makeni.

The economic and social value of infrastructure cannot be over-emphasised as it contributes significantly to mobility of people, goods and services, and to easy access to markets, thereby enriching the lives of the people.

The European Unionís intervention in the social sector includes the rehabilitation of hospitals, health centres and educational institutions. These contributions have enhanced Governmentís post war recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Other areas where assistance has been rendered include: good governance, rural development, fisheries, statistical capacity building and the conducting of the 2004 Population and Housing Census. These interventions have been strategic and timely. It is very important that I mention that the EU continues to provide budgetary support to Government, thereby greatly enhancing macro-economic stability and in turn laying the foundation for sustainable development.

For these and other interventions, including European Commission support to Sierra Leone in international fora, the people of Sierra Leone are truly appreciative. I have no doubt that, we will continue along this path towards improving the quality of life of the people of Sierra Leone.

I now wish to conclude by expressing my deepest appreciation to the Head of Delegation and staff, the European Commission and the European Union at large for the tremendous support and service you have rendered to the government and people of Sierra Leone. On my personal behalf and that of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, I assure the European Union through you the Head of Delegation of our resolve to uphold the tenets of democracy and in particular do what is necessary to reduce poverty and promote good governance and thus improve the quality of life of Sierra Leoneans.

I thank you.

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