Salone News

New Year message by President Bio

2 January 2022 at 17:01 | 892 views

National Broadcast on New Year Eve by His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, 31st December 2021.

Fellow citizens:
1. Just over a week ago, I switched on the CLSG interconnection at
Tiloma, bringing sustainable electricity to the regional capitals of Eastern
and Southern Sierra Leone.
2. This year alone, working with partners, we have lit up 23 more
towns and communities in rural Sierra Leone including Masiaka, Foredugu,
Mambolo, Mange, and Rokupr in the north; Moyamba Junction, Taiama,
Sumbuya, Koribondo, and Sulima in the south; and, Gorahun, Boajibu,
Jojoima, Mobai, and Manowa Town in the East. My Government’s 148 MW
energy generation agreement for the Western Area has been ratified by
parliament. We are refurbishing transmission and distribution assets and
lines and planning new investments in the energy sector.
3. Four years on, we have moved from very expensive and dirty
temporary energy fixes to more sustainable and affordable options
including green energy sources. That is progress.
4. In 2021, we completed the 46 km Bo-Bandajuma Road and
substantial work has been done on the Bandajuma to Mano River Union
Road including three bridges. The 36 km Moyamba Junction to Moyamba
Road including 4 major bridges is complete. The 28km Pendembu to
Kailahun Road is near completion. Over a hundred kilometres of city roads
in the north, south, east, and west have been or are being completely
resurfaced. We have done extensive re-gravelling work on 1,800 km of
roads across the country.
5. As a result of my much-derided travels, our friends in the European
Union and World Bank among others have given Sierra Leone grants of
over a hundred million US dollars for the Resilient Urban Sierra Leone
Project and modern bridges that will replace hand-pulled cable-ferries.
6. The highway to Masiaka is completed with tree-lined medians. In a
few months, I will commission a brand new and modern Magbele Bridge
over the Rokel River and a brand new and modern Mabang Bridge over
the Ribbi River. That is what national infrastructural development is. That
is progress.
7. In 2021, we kept millions of children in school, including girls and
children with disabilities. We provided them with free teaching and
learning materials and food in some locations. Radical inclusion is here to
8. In 2021 we have trained thousands of teachers and education sector
workers, built or renovated over 100 schools and resourced libraries,
updated and reviewed curricula, and, in collaboration with civil society,
international institutions, and development partners used cutting edge
technologies and introduced ground-breaking policies. We continued to
nail our flag on the mast of innovation with a Sierra Leonean, Jeremiah
Thoronka, winning a global prize for technology. As a nation, we have
been recognised for developing effective home-grown, technology-mediated solutions to fight COVID-19 and deliver healthcare.
9. In 2021, we have delivered on our promises to restructure the
governance of tertiary and higher education, resolved the Limkokwing
impasse, rehabilitated infrastructure across all public institutions,
established and improved TVET across the country, and provided greater
access to higher education, especially for women studying STEM
10. Social safety-net schemes are now better structured and more
impactful for vulnerable populations than 5 years ago. We expanded
opportunity for youth, women, and persons with disabilities.
Entrepreneurship and stimulus grants, job-creation, skills training, and
low-interest loans have benefitted women and youth. From youth farms,
youth in fisheries, youth carwashes, and to youth-at-risk training schemes
and start-up kits, we are putting thousands of young people on the path
to empowerment and economic opportunity.
11. 2021 was the year of strengthening the foundation for
transformative change in the health sector even as we battled and
prevailed over three waves of COVID-19 attacks. We expanded primary
healthcare services by increasing Primary Healthcare Units (PHUs) to 1500,
spread throughout the country so that every Sierra Leonean has access
to one within a 5-mile radius.
12. For 2022, we are all focused on improving our pandemic
preparedness and response; enhancing the quality of services delivered
at PHUs through infrastructure and equipment upgrades; improving
quality of staff at the different cadres and making high quality drugs
available in hospital pharmacies; and improving the quality of services at
all the secondary and tertiary hospitals.
13. In 2021, we increased budgetary allocation to the health sector to
11.6 % of GDP. Our international partners such as the Global Fund to
fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and the World Bank expressed their
confidence in our reforms by increasing their funding support to $157M,
and $78M respectively. With these and additional resources, 2022 will be
an even better year for transforming the healthcare sector, dramatically
reducing maternal mortality, improving infant survival, and expanding
quality physical and mental healthcare to Sierra Leoneans.
14. In 2021, we provided more garbage skips throughout the country
to improve public sanitation, especially in urban centres. We have
increased investment in public safety and disaster management. We have
improved our climate mitigation and adaptation interventions and we
intend to follow through on our green commitments while actively seeking
green investments in our business-friendly ecosystem.
15. In 2021, we made progress toward sustainable food security. We
made a big push to support private sector engagement in the agriculture
sector by establishing 14 mechanisation service centres, making a Le100
billion low-interest agriculture credit facility available for agri-businesses,
providing Le8.2 billion worth of improved rice seeds through an e-voucher
system targeting youth and women, and cultivated over 15,000 hectares
of rice to support food insecure households across the country. As a result
of these interventions, there is a 21% jump in rice production from 2020,
according to an ECOWAS pre-harvest assessment.
16. From job creation for youth and women, competitive financing for
value addition and agribusiness, new tree crop establishments for cocoa
and oil-palm, a National Comprehensive Soil Survey, a National
Mechanisation Policy, a National Irrigation Master Plan, to the Smallholder
Commercialisation and Agribusiness Development Project, we are making
steady progress towards food security and wealth creation in the
agricultural sector.
17. Across Government, we have made significant improvement in
governance and ruling justly. There is more devolution, more engagement
with civil society, and greater citizens’ participation in local governance.
Our much-lauded judicial and justice-sector reforms now mean far greater
access to justice for more Sierra Leoneans than at any time before. We
will soon release the Government White Paper on Constitutional Reforms
that will account for gaps and lacunae in our current constitution. In 2021,
we abolished the death penalty forever and also laid in parliament a
seminal law for gender equality and empowerment.
18. For the control of corruption, the Millennium Challenge Corporation
scores Sierra Leone at an unprecedented 83% this year - up from a failing
49% for the past government – for our effective fight against corruption.
Domestic revenue mobilisation is up, inflation is largely in check,
procurement and other financial processes are better monitored, and
public-sector salaries are paid regularly each month.
19. In 2021, we launched the geodata from the national geophysical
survey, amicably resolved disputes and attracted new investments and
created hundreds of new jobs in the mining sector. As a result of our
policies and our collaboration with our partners, the mines have stayed
open and added more jobs throughout COVID.
20. Reduced telecoms rates and expanded coverage in a more
competitive telecoms sector, increased internet penetration, and
legislative and other reforms in the communications sector have been
truly remarkable in 2021.
21. No journalist is in prison for the practice of journalism; our
cybercrime laws are in accord with international best practices, and the
Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and international bodies have
recognised that media freedoms are at an all-time high. In 2021, Sierra
Leone became the fourth African country to sign the global pledge on
media freedoms and Sierra Leone will further bolster its global reputation
for religious tolerance by signing up to the International Religious
Freedom or Belief Alliance.
22. In 2021, our international profile improved even further with
continental leadership of C-10, consideration for a non-permanent seat on
the UN Security Council, and recognition at several international summits
for investing in education and especially girls’ education, protecting and
promoting women’s rights, and for maintaining and widening win-win
relationships with historical and new partners.
23. In 2021, our Sierra Leone was recognised as the 4th most peaceful
country in Africa. In sports, Sierra Leoneans brought home laurels in
dozens of disciplines. We continued to improve on and invest in sports
and in a few weeks, Sierra Leone will be playing in the African Cup of
Nations after 25 years.
24. As Sierra Leoneans, we have a lot to be proud of. In 2021, we
achieved a lot in spite of the turbulence of these times; in spite of the
unpredictability of the global economy; and in spite of the misinformation-laden rhetoric of bad politicians. Sierra Leone is forging ahead, undeterred
and with purpose. We are determined to keep our nation on the path of
a new direction.

Happy New Year and may God bless Sierra Leone.