Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday said that Sierra Leone is on the path of progress.
Addressing a news conference at State House, Tony Blair said that for the past years, he has seen progress in the country.
“I have watched Sierra Leone grow over the past decade after the war and particularly the last few years that I have been coming here”, he said.
The Former Prime Minister who is on a working visit said that “the challenges are still considerable but step by step, the country is on the path of progress and change”, adding that this is the country I have come to love deeply, regardless of my connections over the years and also because of the people I have met .
Sierra Leone, he said, ‘is the country that is not only about its people, but there are enormous potentials for the next years. Sierra Leone has natural resources, its culture and great potential in the area of tourism and the development of the business industry’.
Tony Blair reiterated that the key thing is to take from the President’s Agenda for Prosperity, which is a vision of the change of the country .
He said what “the African Governance Initiative (AGI) does is and what we need as government is getting things done. Because that’s the hardest things about government and by the way that is not only a Sierra Leone issue but this is a universal government problem.
The toughest challenge I found, while I was Prime Minister, is taking the vision and translating it into reality. And when we talk about government, we focus about efficacy and how we get things done,” Tony Blair said.
The Former British Prime Minister stated that you can see the changes that are happening in Sierra Leone but we need to do more in the areas like power and electricity, developing the private sector, water and sanitation and education”.
He said that support will be given to President Ernest Koroma Agenda for Prosperity.
Earlier on in his statement, President Ernest Bai Koroma said that it was a great pleasure for him to welcome Tony Blair in Sierra Leone.
“I believe Tony Blair was a great friend of Sierra Leone and has demonstrated that when he was Prime Minister in the United Kingdom and even during his retirement, he has supported our government through good governance and also assisting us in ensuring the Agenda for Change is actualised”.
The people of Sierra Leone, he says, always appreciate the presence of Tony Blair.
President Koroma said that having come from an elections in which the people of Sierra Leone renewed their mandate by voting me in and giving us a fair majority in Parliament; there are great expectations from Sierra Leoneans for us to continue with what we have started, and as a government, we have decided on moving forward with a new programme that we called the Agenda for Prosperity.
In that programme “we have to ensure that we keep the things we have in place”.
“We have had quiet useful discussions and it was very clear from what we have agreed that we will continue with the AGI support to the government. We focus on addressing the areas that we have also prioritise in the Agenda for Prosperity and we look forward in the AGI not only supporting us with the team that is deployed in the country, but once in a while to bring the relevant expertise that we require in addressing the issues that will position us to the path of prosperity.
The President reiterated that as a government, they have agreed that the services provided by the AGI have been useful and will continue with these services and possible expand areas of interventions..
He said that “we have great opportunity in the mining, agriculture and tourism sectors, but as a government we will continue to create the enabling environment to ensure that we realise the fullness of the potentials in those sectors”.
President Koroma stated that as a government, they have to continue to deepen the democratic process and ensure that the country continues to be a safe haven for investment. “We will continue our efforts in ensuring that there is law and order in the country, safety, human rights are respected, and most importantly to ensure that we develop the human resource of the country;empowering our youths with the right skills that are required; skills that will make them competitive at international standards” he said.
“We also create the environment for investment and we will continue with the programmes we have started, especially improving on our availability of energy, road infrastructure, reviewing the educational sector transformation of the health sector”.
He added that special emphasis will be placed on energy; infrastructure and education because of the need for us to sustain the development efforts already initiated and will continue to initiate.
Erstwhile Minister of Political Affairs, Alhaji Alpha Kanu said Tony Blair has also been a friend to Sierra Leone, during the country’s intervention, he was there to help. He therefore thanked him for his support to Sierra Leone.
By Abibatu Kamara