The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura past Saturday, 29th May arrived in Nice, the fifth largest City in France to represent President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at the 25th Franco-Africa summit hosted by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, the first since elected as President of France.
President Ernest Bai Koroma had to cancel his planned trip to the summit at the eleventh hour due to a technical problem with the chartered aircraft that should have conveyed him and delegation to Nice City.
Over 35 African Heads of State, African Finance and Foreign Ministers as well as top African business executives are expected to descend in Nice to participate in the two-day summit which runs from the 31st May -1st June.
Discussions will be focused on how to help African States strengthen their legal frameworks in order to encourage businesses at the same time help businesses gain access to financing.
Further deliberations will be held on building and enhancing competitiveness among African companies; the social and environmental responsibility and the energy sources for the Africa of tomorrow.
Mrs. Bangura is expected to hold private talks with her French counterpart and other established French investors to encourage them to turn their attention to Sierra Leone and invest especially in tourism.
The Sierra Leone-France relationship could be traced as far back as 1961 when France became the first country to establish a diplomatic mission after Sierra Leone gained Independence status on April 27th.
This Diplomatic Mission was closed down in 1996 at the height of Sierra Leone’s civil conflict. A watered down version with a Charge d’Affaires was opened in 2002.
Sierra Leone has benefited from immense cultural, scientific and technical assistance from France in the form of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships in diverse fields, the development of the country’s rural water and electricity supply and other infrastructural developments.
The Franco-Africa summit provides for an exchange on diverse global and bilateral issues ranging from the focus of French/European-African cooperation to climate change.
The Sierra Leone delegation also include Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Brussels/EU, Dr. Christian Sheka Kargbo, Head of Chancery at the Brussels Embassy, Haja Fatmata Binta Wurie and Third Secretary at the Sierra Leone High Commission in London, Mrs. Isatu Conteh.