By John Pa Baimba Sesay, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, Beijing, China
A United Kingdom based Sierra Leonean Professor, working at the Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization in the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, has spoken that given the opportunities that a country like China has to offer to developing countries, there is need for more support and attention to be given to the Sierra Leone Mission in China, only if Sierra Leone is to fully seize and optimize those investment opportunities from China.
Professor Franklyn Lisk is a Sierra Leonean born visiting Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization (CSGR). He has authored several books and articles, “on employment and labour market policies, development and poverty reduction strategies, and globalization and global governance issues.”
Speaking on Tuesday, 3rd June, during a visit to the Sierra Leone Mission in Beijing, China, Professor Lisk said the two most important regions in the world presently are China and Africa “since seven of the ten fastest growing economies are found in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Angola and Nigeria.”
Professor Lisk said, given the development growth of China at the moment, there are indications, that China is poised to become the largest global economy by 2020. China has been a strategic development partner of Africa and according to him the country’s cooperation strategy of with Africa is based on friendship, mutual benefit and respect for the agenda set by countries themselves. According to Professor Lisk, manufacturing at the lower level will have to move away from China and go overseas and therefore called for African countries to work towards attracting these investment opportunities from China.
Speaking on the human resource potentials of African countries, he said there has been a surplus of educated people in many African countries but “what we, Africa, need is a disciplined labour force.”
Speaking on the resurce potentials of Sierra Leone, he said the country has great natural resources and a lot of iron ore deposits but said the production of such resources into finished products has often been a major challenge for a developing country like Sierra Leone, instead the raw materials will be exported for final production. He said the Sierra Leone Mission in China should be taken to the highest level by Government in terms of its role in facilitating investment opportunities and suggested that “within the framework of the Mano River Union, steel production from our iron ore could be used to create an industrial base in Sierra Leone and China will not mind to work with Sierra Leone on that.”
Impressed by the desire, commitment and dedication of Ambassador Abu Bakarr Multi-Kamara to move the Embassy to another level, Professor Lisk said the Embassy should be “fortified with resources to be able to play a more dynamic role in finding out the available opportunities in China. The Embassy should be knowledgeable about FOFAC and see the opportunities and facilities in it, especially in relations to President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Change.”
Talking about his expectations in terms of development cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, Professor Lisk said China has continued to present an alternative model in its relationship with Africa which is a package in the form of aid, trade and investment “unlike the Western model which comes in the form of aid, but with lots of conditions which may relate to political or structural adjustments. China’s development cooperation with Africa is often contained within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).”
He also called for the full involvement of the private sector in Sierra Leone’s development, saying, it is an important sector but that much has not been seen in terms of their participation in Sierra Leone. “A good number of Chinese activities in Africa are been undertaken by Chinese private enterprises. There is need for the private sector in Sierra Leone to work with that of China. The Chamber of Commerce in Sierra Leone should know the opportunities here in China”
Ambassador Multi-Kamara in his response thanked Professor Lisk for his efforts in visiting the embassy and for sharing his wealth of knowledge on how the embassy could work towards optimising the investment opportunities that China has to offer to developing countries, especially Sierra Leone. The embassy, he said has become cognisant of the role that it should continue to play in Sierra Leone’s development efforts and in also strengthening the cooperation ties with China. Sierra Leone, Ambassador Multi-Kamara said, is at a crossroad in its development drive.
Professor Lisk has been an outstanding Sierra Leonean that has been contributing to the development of the country. In 2011, he was part of the development and transformational conference organised by government, which was aimed at looking the path of Sierra Leone’s development in the next 50 years.