From Awareness Times Newspaper in
Speech by Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma on his Third Anniversary in Office
By H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma
Sep 17, 2010, 17:00
Fellow Sierra Leoneans,
On assumption of office three years ago, I promised a progressive turnaround for this country in three years. I firmed up our aspirations for this turn around in An Agenda for Change. We emphasized five areas in this Agenda for Change; Agriculture, Energy, Infrastructure, Health and Education. We straight away put the agenda to action. Within three months of my assumption of office, we ensured a turnaround for electricity in Freetown by restoring light to the capital.
We have not stopped making this turn around in all the sectors we prioritized. We completed Bumbuna, a project started by the APC over three decades ago, but which no other government but my APC government could complete. We are sustaining this turnaround in energy provision by doubling the amount of electricity generated by the BKPS in Bo and Kenema, and by the electrification of all provincial and district headquarter towns.
We have also ensured a turnaround in Agriculture. From under 2% we have increased allocation to the sector to nearly 10% of our national budget, in line with our commitments to the Maputo declaration. From under 30 tractors we have increased the number of tractors in this country to almost three hundred. We have designed and launched the National Agriculture Development Plan to guide our interventions in the sector, in line with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan. For these achievements we have been declared champions of Agriculture in Africa by CAADP. We are sustaining this turnaround in Agriculture by designing, launching and implementing the Small Holder Commercialization Program. For too long Agriculture has been done in this country on a subsistence basis; for too long farmers, who constitute over 65% of the population of this country have not been able to move themselves out of the poverty of subsistence agriculture. We are determined to stop this. The Small holder Commercialization Program, worth hundreds of millions of dollars will move agriculture away from subsistence to commercialization.
We have ensured a turnaround in infrastructure by launching the biggest road construction program in the countryís history. We have completed new highways between Masiaka and Bo, Bo and Kenema, and Makeni and Matotoka. Construction is ongoing on the highways between Freetown and Conakry, and Kenema and Pendembu, and on the roads between Lumley and Tokeh and Port Loko and Lungi. We are constructing road in all provincial and district headquarter towns; work has already started in Bo, Magburaka, Kenema and Makeni. Contracts have been awarded for Port Loko and Kambia, and contracts have also been designed and tendered for Koidu, Kailahun, Moyamba, Bonthe, Kabala and Pujehun. Road construction is underway in Freetown, from the widening of the Wilkinson Road to four lanes to the construction of the Pademba Road- Blackhall Road hillside road. We have designed a feeder road policy and we are constructing thousands of kilometers of feeder roads all over the country.
We are also making a turnaround in the health sector. Healthcare provision has been a challenge for many years in this country. In a survey we conducted nearly 90% of persons stated user fees as the main obstacle to their accessing health services. The number of mothers and children dying in this country is more than almost all other countries in the world. This is unacceptable; we have to put a stop to this. We devised the National Health Sector Strategic Plan, setting out proper goals and implementation plans for the wellbeing of our people. We have initiated the Free Health care Initiative for Pregnant Women, Breast feeding mothers and children under five. Now the turn around is well underway in the health sector. There has been an increase of over 70% in institutional delivery since the launch of the free health care initiative; more women and children are accessing health services than ever before. Now, all over Africa, countries are following our footsteps by committing themselves to free health care for mothers and children. This month our country will be receiving the MDGs award for the leadership we are showing in combating HIV/AIDs Malaria and other diseases.
The turnaround in Education is also underway; we are overhauling the 6-3-3-4 system. We have issued a white paper on this and we are establishing an implementation committee to overhaul the system. We met a sector ridden with ghost teachers, schools and pupils; but we are weeding them out, freeing resources for the sector. We have recruited thousands of new teachers, and we are building more schools all over the country. Our efforts have started paying dividend, as the recent public examination results show.
We have also successfully begun a turnaround across other sectors. Despite the global financial crisis we have ensured a positive economic growth rate of 5.5% in 2008 and 4.0% in 2009, which is double the average growth rate of Africa. We have launched the National Private Sector development Program to guide our interventions in the sector; we have reduced several barriers to business, making this country the easiest place to start a business in the sub region. We are reviewing all mining agreements and have successful renegotiated several contracts. We have passed a New Mining Act, creating a stable investor friendly environment, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and creating thousands of jobs. We have stepped up the fight against corruption, enacting one of the most robust anti-corruption legislation in Africa, ensuring the highest annual conviction for corruption offenses and the recovery of hundreds of millions of leones for the government. We are also capacitating the armed forces to ensure peace nationally and internationally. We have also increased allocations to all local government councils, irrespective of which party controls them. The councils are now designing, implementing and completing projects that are transforming local communities all over the country.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, my government shall sustain this turnaround. Today I am renewing my pledge unto you; we shall not tire, we shall not rest until this country lives up to the true extent of her potentials. Within three months of my taking power we fulfilled our pledge to bring electricity to our capital. Within two years of my rule, we proved our ability to complete projects by completing the 30 year old Bumbuna hydro-electric project. Within three years we launched the boldest health initiative ever in the history of this country. In every year of our rule, we proved our commitment to live up to the pledges we made to the people of this country. Today this country is a works yard; the signs of the transformation are everywhere. In hospitals, roads, schools, mineral resources, farming, the transformation is taking place.
That is why today I am also renewing my call to all Sierra Leoneans to come onboard and join the positive transformation of our country. We are transforming the whole of Sierra Leone, and not just a part of the nation. Let all who love the whole of this beautiful country join us in this work. This is not only about me, or my party, it is about the whole of Sierra Leone. We owe it to the people of this country to transform this country. And by the Grace of the God, we will sustain this transformation.
I thank you for your attention.
God Bless Sierra Leone.
¬© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.