By Elkass I.L. Sannoh
The former German Minister of Economic Co-operation, Mr. Drik Niebel, has said in Freetown that in order to help ameliorate the alarming rate of youth unemployment in Sierra Leone, his Government has donated six million Euros (E 6,000,000.00) to the Government of the small West African country to fund national youth projects.
The Minister, who was on a visit to the country together with a high-powered Presidential delegation including some German Members of Parliament and Information Ministry officials, was addressing journalists at a press briefing at State House in Freetown..
Mr. Niebel said he was very impressed with the kind reception that the received from President Ernest Bai Koroma.
He said Sierra Leone is faced with huge challenges and the best way to surmount them was to have the sincere leadership drive to collectively build the country. He disclosed that he reminded President Koroma about the forthcoming multitier elections and admonished him to stand up to the task by allowing the will of the people to prevail.
He said they were very impressed with the efficient and effective leadership President Koroma and his Government have provided for the people of Sierra Leone, but cautioned that he must allow the elections to be free from violence, fair and transparent in such a way that their outcome would send important signals to the world and West Africa in particular.
“We saw what happened in Ivory Coast, Kenya and Uganda where the opposition leader, Dr. Kiza Besigie, was assaulted and later imprisoned before elections day,” said Mr. Niebel. “We, as a Government, were averse to it and we are therefore calling on all Sierra Leoneans to embrace democratic free and fair elections.”
He observed that irrespective of the fact that Sierra Leone was still a post-war country, yet it is the only country in sub Sahara Africa that has a well placed data for mining practices, adding that this was a manifestation that its natural resources benefit its people positively.
Mr. Niebel described Sierra Leone’s youth unemployment rate of 70% as very scary. He said for any country to actualize progress it must depend heavily on its potential human resources, mainly its young people.
He said youths must be capacitated in order to elevate them to have a stake in governance and the development process of their country.
‘’As part of the national promotion programme gearing towards empowering Sierra Leonean youths, my Government has donated six million Euros to the Sierra Leonean Government to support the young people. This money is to help train the youths in diverse courses in order to help them to secure jobs that will make them self-reliant,’’ he disclosed.
He said he was happy to officially open a lorry park at Lompa, near Waterloo as part of the amicable relationship between Germany and Sierra Leone.
He said it was clear that Sierra Leone was now ready to fulfill the criteria of the United Nations and other statutory agreements signed to enhance a good human rights record.
He noted that the prevalence of free press and press freedom have been lauded worldwide which, he observed, also encouraged more investors to invest in the country. He predicted that more investors would come to the country and called on Government to collaboratively work with them in order to enhance the country’s development.