From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

NOTICES & DOCUMENTS
Two Recent Statements By H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone
By
Mar 18, 2011, 20:00

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT, DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA, DURING THE LAUNCHING OF THE WORLD BANK FUNDED YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT PROJECT, MIATTA CONFERENCE CENTRE, 17TH MARCH, 2011

Mr. Chairman

Hon. Vice President

Hon. Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Hon. Members of Parliament

Your Worship the Mayor of Freetown

The Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General

The World Bank Country Director

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Distinguished Stakeholders in Youth Development

Ladies and Gentlemen 

 

Today, we are all here to witness the launch of the Youth Employment Support Project, initiated by my Government with the support of the World Bank. The project targets the empowerment of over 30,000 young people throughout the country.  

 

Mr. Chairman, gainful engagement and employment of youths has been a major policy objective of government. My Governments Agenda for Change places youth employment as a core outcome of the huge investments we are making in the prioritized sectors of agriculture, infrastructure/transport, energy and human development. We are also committed to macroeconomic stability, robust economic growth rate and development of the private sector. This will lead to the creation of employment opportunities that will eventually absorb the large number of unemployed youths.  

 

Today Agriculture is my governments number one priority. It is the sector where the vast majority of our people, including youths are engaged. Huge investments in the sector will definitely translate into hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for our youths. That is why we have increased budgetary contribution to agriculture from 1.5% in 2007 to 10% today; that is why we have increased the number of tractors in the country from under 30 when we took over to nearly 300 today; and that is why we have launched the Small Holder Commercialization Programme involving tens of millions of dollars investment in the sector.


Our investment policies are also attracting huge investments in the mining sector. Now thousands of jobs are being created that will hugely benefit our youthful population. We are also building vocational centers in every district to train youths and ease their transition into gainful employment 

 

Mr. Chairman, Sierra Leone is a country of youths. Young persons are the mainstay of our society; they are our strongest hope for the continued survival of our country. That is why during the 2009 London Consultative Meeting and Investment Forum, my Government, in collaboration with various stakeholders, presented a new strategy on Youth Employment (2010-2012). Based on the key national development strategy Agenda for Change, four major intervention strategies were developed; 

1.     Focus on employment creation

2.     Linking interventions in Labour Supply, Labour Demand and Matching of Supply and Demand for synergies and sustainability

3.     Systematic inclusion of private sector needs and contributions (Public Private Partnerships)

4.     Careful balance of quick wins and long-term development

The strategic shift from employability-oriented to employment-oriented interventions, coupled with developing the area of matching the supply and demand for labour were highly recognized as key for the sector by the new strategy. Another major strategic shift in the sector is to focus on stimulating economic development including private sector development and local economic development as a catalyst to creating the demand for jobs. 


It is this strategic shift that this project and other on-going and planned interventions seek to address in a systematic and sustainable manner. As you can see, all these activities would require the appropriate institutional framework to coordinate the sector. This is why my Government is taking steps to facilitate the operations of the National Youth Commission to take the lead in promoting coordination and harmonization in the youth development sector. To further strengthen our commitment to the youth of this country, I have established a separate Ministry of Youth Employment and Sports to support the work of the commission. 


May I take this opportunity to appeal to our international development partners for substantial support to the Ministry and the Commission. The commission will require substantial resources- financial, material, as well as technical, to be able to carry out its functions effectively. My Government will endeavour to provide the required leadership and commitment in ensuring that the commission succeeds in accomplishing its objectives.

 

I wish to express my sincere thanks to the President of the World Bank, who made a commitment to support our efforts at addressing youth employment during a visit to Sierra Leone. I wish to applaud all those institutions (principally the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development, Youth Employment and Sports, the National Commission for Social Action and staff of the World Bank) and individuals who contributed immensely in getting this project started.

 

Mr. Chairman, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Honourable Members of Parliament, Your Worship the Mayor of Freetown, The Executive Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, The Country Director of the World Bank, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, My Youth Leaders, I wish to formally launch the Youth Employment Support Project.

 

Thank you for your attention. 


Statement By His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma,  President Of The Republic Of Sierra Leone At The Launch Of The Waica Reinsurance Corporation Plc In Lagos, Nigeria 15th March , 2011

 

Salutation 

 

It is with a feeling of great pleasure that I am here to launch the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC. I can say with pride that this is a major milestone on the journey towards closer economic integration in West Africa.  Let me start by formally congratulating all who have played a part in the creation of this institution. 

 

It is a truly remarkable achievement which will be reflected in the annals of history. I note with satisfaction that an organization born within WAICA with the Secretariat now based in Ghana, christened by the advisory team in Sierra Leone in consultation with colleagues from across the sub region, sustained by shareholders from all the countries of the sub region and beyond, is coming of age in Nigeria today.   

 

On a personal note, I am absolutely delighted to be part of this epoch-making event that signifies the realization of a particular goal of the association. Indeed, I was President of WAICA when the idea was first seriously considered and today by divine providence I am here when it is being brought to its logical conclusion.  It has taken rather too long for the institution to come into existence but I am happy that it has finally happened.  As we endeavour to work together in a more coordinated manner, it is my fervent hope that new ideas would not take so long to come to fruition.

 

We in Sierra Leone feel very proud to be able to host this institution, particularly when the signing of the headquarter agreement has been done today.  Please be assured of our unfailing commitment to the success of this institution and our firm resolve that we will stand ready to support it in any way we can.  

 

We are also proud that we have been able to provide some element of the leadership in setting up the institution and this is a testimony to the significant strides made in improving the business environment in Sierra Leone. In the last 4 years, there have been new laws including:

a. The Sierra Leone Investment and Export  Agency  (SLIEPA) Act

b. Companies Act 2009

c.    Environmental Protection Act 2008

d. Other Financial Services Act

e. Business Regulatory Environment and      many more

 

In fact, these legislative changes have played a key role in the development of the banking sector which has seen institutions operate across national boundaries. 

 

In the coming months, further legislative attention will be paid to the financial sector including insurance and related areas designed to strengthen the various sectors and enhance international competitiveness. 


It is remarkable that the promoters from all member countries of WAICA (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Gambia) have been able to sign up to a single memorandum and articles of association.  This speaks to the already known fact that there is so much common ground between us.  The bonds are only likely to become stronger as we deepen our shared political, business and economic culture, and as the sub region forges ahead. 

 

With the establishment of the WAICA Re, we see numerous benefits to the sub region including: 

a. Development of desperately needed sub regional reinsurance capacity including human capital development;

b. Greater retention of foreign currency earnings in the sub region which should be substantial by any measure;

c. Greater investment in the sub region;

d. Improved Risk Management;

e. Enhanced Regionalization/Economic Integration;

f.  Increased Technical Cooperation & Training;

g.Taking the lead in the implementation of international best practice in reinsurance;

h. Increased level of innovation.

 

Furthermore, our hope is that WAICA will deepen its relationship within the sub region.  Personally, I would like to see the shares of the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC traded on the stock exchanges of member countries.  Apart from providing usual benefits associated with a stock exchange listing, the symbolism would be enormous as it would signal the further economic integration of the sub region.  As a government, we hope that the Board of WAICA Re and the various regional stock exchanges will begin to think about timing of such a floatation which would be a matter entirely for them. 

 

To conclude, let me exhort the new WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC to pursue the opportunities within the sub region quite aggressively, especially in the emerging areas of oil and gas and major growth areas such as infrastructure development.  However, let me also warn that not all modern fashions in the world of finance should be taken as gospel.  During the recent global financial crises, our economies were adversely affected insofar as real growth rates were lower than they would have been, but none of the sub regional economies have been in recession.  I am sure that this would not have been the case, had we in the sub region followed some of the modern high leverage/debt models which have proved so disastrous in other countries.  The business of insurance is insurance and that means providing security.  The insurance industry is here to manage risk not create new ones.  This is not to de-cry modernity and progress but to indicate that some basic facets of good business never change. 

 

On that note, let me once again congratulate WAICA, its members, advisers and all who have played a part in the birth of this new institution, the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC.   

 

On behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone and West Africa, I hereby declare the WAICA Reinsurance Corporation PLC OPEN FOR BUSINESS.   

 

I thank you for your attention.



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