The current President of the South-South News His Excellency, Ambassador Francis Lorenzo has presented a South-South Award to President Ernest Bai Koroma in recognition of his individual and Government’s recognition for the innovation and entrepreneurial use of information and communication technologies as a tool for health and development at his Presidential Lounge, Hyatt Lex Hotel, New York. (Photo: L-r His Excellency, Ambassador Francis Lorenzo presenting the South-South Award to President Ernest Bai Koroma)Presenting the Award, Ambassador Lorenzo South–South News is an initiative launched during the Sixteenth Session of the High Level Committee on the South- South Cooperation at the United Nations to advance the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals through the sharing of best practices in the areas of South and triangular cooperation. He added that South-South News plays a major role in sharing ideas, knowledge and skills to help developing countries address their deficiencies to build on their strengthens and that it strongly believes in the importance of the ‘Super Highway of the Southern Hemisphere’ a universal data movement access that could assist developing countries bridge the digital divide.
South-South News President, Ambassador Francis Lorenze told President Koroma that they understand the importance he attaches to the health and ICT sectors and as such they have acknowledged his efforts saying in terms of the recent technology use in the health, his office is at his disposal to enhance the capacity of Sierra Leoneans in those sectors. He further informed him that they will also provide him with the necessary support of enhancing ICT in Sierra Leone with great emphasis on the Media. He further disclosed the training arrangements they have made with the Vice President of the South–South News in Beijing to train Sierra Leoneans how to use advanced technology in hospitals and the media.
President Koroma thanked the Ambassador for the recognition of their efforts as a nation and government and for the presentation of the award saying within a year the Free Healthcare Programme has made a great impact in the country by reducing child mortality rate immensely despite the challenges encountered in drugs distribution and misuse of drugs. The President informed him that they have gotten to the point of addressing the thorny issue of the essential challenges with the help of UNICEF by computerizing the whole distribution process.
He also disclosed that as a government, they have made great moves in the ICT sector with the fibre optic landing in Sierra Leone next week which will ensure that more people have cheap access to technology and will be used to develop other sectors. On the issue of the specific support, President Koroma said the Minister of Information and Technology will hold further discussions with them to ensure that modalities are put in place to facilitate the process. The President pointed out that their support will further increase the facilities and capacity in the health and ICT sectors and again thanked them for their interest in the country’s transformation process.