President Julius Maada Bio has received a huge boost from the European Commission with a 73 million Euros pledge to support inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth and strengthen democratic governance in Sierra Leone.
The announcement of a part of three Financial Agreements, signed between the European Commission and the Government of Sierra Leone, followed a successful meeting between President Bio and President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
The three Financial Agreements, which were signed on Tuesday 6 November 2018, will cover state building contracts, support to civil society and local authorities for local development and the country’s component of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme.
Out of the 73 million euros, 45 million will be allocated to the State Building Contract which represents the second phase of the European Commission budgetary support to the Government of Sierra Leone. Some 23 million euros will be allocated to support Civil Society Organisations and local authorities to fund and implement development initiatives that respond to the priority needs of communities in a sustainable way and 5 million euros will go to the Sierra Leone Component of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme that enhances the country’s integration into regional and international trading systems.
During the bilateral meeting, President Juncker praised President Bio for his impressive leadership and the admirable commitment to human capital development, reform agenda, fiscal discipline and efficient economic management.
As one of the leading champions in Africa on the fight against corruption and democratic accountability, President Bio was also lauded by the President of the European Commission
“I can only support your fight against corruption. This is good for your country and the European Union. You have the full support of the European Union in the fight against corruption,” Mr Juncker assured.
President Julius Maada Bio thanked the European Commission President for their support to his new administration while reiterating his commitment to strengthening relations with the European Commission.
Sierra Leone will also benefit from the Erasmus + Programme which offers opportunities for non-EU individuals and institutions in the areas of education, training, youth and sports. Additionally, Sierra Leone will benefit from the 10 million jobs to be created by the European Union for young people in Africa to address the migration of young people to Europe in search of job opportunities.
President Julius Maada Bio was also hosted to a lunch by the Secretary-General of the European Union External Action Service, Helga Schmid. After the lunch, the President held a bilateral meeting with the European Union Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, responsible for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries.
The huge financial commitment by the European Commission to support President Bio’s New Direction and his several engagements with senior officials of European Commission demonstrate the international admiration of Bio’s presidency.
It could be recalled that the Government of Sierra Leone and the European Union met on October 29, 2018, in Freetown for the first Sierra Leone-EU Political Dialogue since the new government was formed.