Elections the world over are beleaguered with accusations of fraud and illegitimacy – Says E.B. Koroma

Statement by H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma at the High – Level Meeting on Mitigating Disruptive Applications of Information, Communication and Technology on the Electoral process in Africa at the Olusegun Obasanjo Library in Abeokuta, Nigeria, 18-19th December, 2018.

Mr. Chairman, our esteemed host – His Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo and his staff – Excellences, distinguished representatives of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me at the outset commend President Obasanjo for convening this High – Level Meeting on such an important contemporary subject.

The use of ICTs in elections, their inherent impact on the integrity of elections results, and by extension, on the peace and stability of our societies, is a subject that should continue to exercise our minds. Standing at the threshold of elections here in Nigeria, one of Africa’s major and burgeoning democracies, this discussion couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Elections the world over are beleaguered with accusations of fraud and illegitimacy, threatening peace, security and democracy itself. The general consensus has been that no one except election officials knows what happens to your vote once you cast it. It’s therefore not surprising that voter apathy is increasing in many parts of the world, owing to the perception or the reality that their votes don’t count. 

In this context, the advent of the ‘Information Superhighway’ was widely seen as a panacea to the monster of electoral manipulations and the disputes that characterised them. The promise was that, using technology, we will be able to make elections transparent, without compromising voter privacy, and have a way to ascertain that the elections results are accurate.  
Without doubt, when appropriate and safe technology is introduced especially to large platforms, with millions of participants, there is an increased financial burden placed on early adopters. But eventually, technology could drastically reduce the costs of our elections and free up taxpayer money to be spent on improving the quality of our education or health care systems or rebuilding our infrastructure.

Secure technology could also significantly increase voter turnout, with a whole new wave of voters feeling encouraged to conveniently cast their votes online from anywhere in the world.
True to this new reality of the ‘Information Age’, most electoral management bodies (EMBs) in Africa, as around the world, have taken on board several technological initiatives ranging from the use of basic office automation tools such as word processing and spreadsheets; to more sophisticated data processing tools: including database management systems, biometrics voter registration and identification, optical scanning, block chain and geographic information systems.

In Sierra Leone for instance, the adoption of technology has gone a long way to improve the elections management process thereby drastically reducing the ugly and incendiary incidents of electoral malpractices of ballot stuffing, result sheet mutilation, over voting, alteration of result sheets, hijacking of ballot boxes. In other places, the development of e-collation support platform has also significantly reduced the incidence of result manipulation at collation centres.

In other words, in ideal situations, a new elections management system based on technology could cut costs, increase voter turnout, make voting more convenient and accessible, ensure elections are honest, and reassure voters that their voices were heard.

Sadly, we are discovering that certain types of technology can be extremely vulnerable to hackers or manipulators, with the potential to unfairly influence the outcome of elections – it is like when you find the answer to a question; they change the question. ICT specialists agree that the crudest tool for election interference is to undermine data integrity; by ensuring that some people are unable to vote; or if they did vote at all, their votes don’t count; or by simply knocking off the internet the websites of elections commissions or opponents.

They could also inundate the sites with junk traffic and keep them offline or sluggish at critical moments during the elections; or essentially bombard them with malware to infect computers – essentially overwhelming the servers that host the sites.

There is also the very dangerous practice of ‘Spoofing Results’. We are told that in 2014, a hacker operation compromised the website of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, changed the election results; and then set to declare the winner of their choice. It is reported that the Commission officials spotted the attack less than an hour before the faked results were to be released, and prevented the fraudulent version from being made public. Imagine the impact that would have had on the stability of that country if the faked results were to have been made public.

Then, there is the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ referred to as ‘Targeted Leaks’. We are told that intelligence agencies and the cybersecurity community are almost unanimous that hackers stole and leaked Democratic targets in the 2016 US elections and most effectively, shared with WikiLeaks, which then strategically release them out during key weeks of the campaign.Without doubt, the disruptive impact of these rogue applications represents a far more sophisticated attempt to influence democratic processes and the techniques vary from place to place. Here in Africa – where the shift from military coups to the use of technology to effect regime change is gaining momentum- allegations of supply of pre-programmed or substandard equipment have been rife. This poses a serious challenge to the great progress we have made in the continent regarding elections management. 

I listened to President Goodluck Jonathan last month, at his book launch in Abuja, recounting his ordeal of how his voting was disrupted by technology in the last elections here in Nigeria. Many of my compatriots back in Sierra Leone also reported similar disruptions during our March 2018 elections right from the verification to the polling day; either by having someone else’s photograph against their details on their voter card, or their photographs against someone else’s details, or their names not showing up in the centres they registered and where they were required to vote. These disruptions may appear as ‘minor’ technical hitches but they could undermine confidence to the extent that, at some point in our case, both the public and leaders demanded a recount of the results.

Either way, the new trend clearly shows that hackers or vested interests have perfected their trade from mere information and propaganda attacks to techniques designed to more directly manipulate electoral processes and outcomes. The danger is that, if this awkward trend is not mitigated, voters will become frustrated and lose confidence in our democratic systems. It is therefore no longer acceptable to say that the people are able to participate in elections while their votes decide nothing- yet those with vested interest decide everything using rogue ICT applications.

So how do we mitigate these disruptive applications? There are several measures being employed to curb the malaise one of which is what is now being referred to as ‘disrupting the disruptive: i,e: “blocking and filtering”. But Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me attempt to start from the beginning by emphasizing that technology is just a tool; not an end in itself. For example, if technology is being considered for vote counting, the guiding principles that apply to vote counting should also apply to the technology.

Procurement and deployment of electoral technology must also be timely, transparent and inclusive to ensure a buy –in from all stakeholders. It is therefore advisable to organize a consultation process with the users or their representatives to ensure that their needs are met and that they are satisfied that the new system is acceptable and reliable.

Demonstrable security levels are one way of ensuring that election IT systems are transparent and trustworthy. It therefore follows that computer systems used for elections include high levels of security. Unauthorised persons must be prevented from accessing, altering or downloading sensitive electoral data.  

Coming back to the concept of disrupting the disruptive through blocking and filtering – this is basically a range of technical measures to partially or totally restrict the flow of data on the internet. Critics of this technique may argue that it interferes with the freedom to seek, receive, and impart ideas and information and so a form of control. But the literature on blocking and filtering practices around the world sheds light on both their shared features and distinctive elements; as well as highlight the different contexts in which they occur. For instance, it is recorded that some countries implement ‘judicial orders’ demanding that “intermediaries such as local internet access providers and app stores administrators “block” user access to certain social media applications, because the applications allegedly either provide an illegal service or failed to comply with a court order”. In Brazil, this practice is regarded as “regulatory disruption”. Worthy of note however is the established fact that this scenario is not entirely exclusive to Brazil.

The literature indicates that in many countries, “blocking access to internet applications, services, and content is part of state policies to mitigate ‘disruptive’ applications of information, communication and technology: they are temporary and are usually implemented for national security reasons in regions and periods of rising political tensions and during “emergency situations”, or in child and copyrighted protection”.
In Germany, for instance, we are told that “the penal code prohibits the use and dissemination of Nazi and Holocaust denial materials, implicating a responsibility to eradicate this content from the web.

In France, internet connection providers, following notification, must block websites that contain materials that incite terrorism. In the United States, the practice of “domain seizure” is used as a method to impede access to websites that disseminate content in violation of copyright law and that provide illegal services, such as sales of drugs and smuggled goods. In the same country, internet service providers receive thousands of take-down notices daily under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Across Europe, search engines must consider requests for search results to be de-indexed following the recognition of the so-called “right to be forgotten” after the 2014 ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union”.

What is good for the goose, they say, is also good for the gander. If such blocking and filtering practices are good for those reasons; they should also be good for the purpose of protecting the integrity of elections and their outcome.
Not surprising, in our backyard in Africa, there are instances of internet shutdowns or throttling of internet applications have been reportedly implemented during elections, to ‘frustrate online and offline political movements’ as was in Ugandan during the February 2016 presidential elections. Other examples, within the past two years include shutdowns in Chad, the Congo, Gambia, Gabon. 

Overall, EMBs should overcome the challenge of delay in the final collation of results by fully implementing the use of electronic collation within the necessary time and legal frameworks to ensure early and comprehensive release of results. This will minimise the risk of hacking into the system and tempering with the results.Given the reality of death and migration, electronic electoral registers ought to be updated, and verification and corrections carried out as early as possible. This will also help in issues of uncollected voters’ cards, inaccurate, as well as multiple registrations.In addition, enough time should be allocated to ICT-based activities e.g.: voter verification; issuance of voter cards and printing of registers done on the eleventh hour are prone to avoidable mistakes which might generate unnecessary tension and problems. 

The human factor is also very critical; no matter the cutting-edge technology deployed, if the personnel and other EMB actors are unprofessionally and ethically croaked, the outcome will always be suspect.  ICT staff of National Elections Commissions should be exposed to certification courses, better conditions of service, and when they are found to collude in manipulating outcomes; the sanctions should be effective deterrents. Training both at home and oversea will reduce the cost of outsourcing ICT-related tasks to consultants. It will also minimize security risks relating to foreign interference. This is where home grown African financial support to elections bodies becomes imperative. Open initiatives supported by OSIWA should not be limited to the openness and accountability of governments; but as a matter of fact, they should be extended to the openness and accountability of the processes that elect such governments.

I thank you for your attention.

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GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE PUBLIC NOTICE INFORMATION ON THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE
PUBLIC NOTICE
INFORMATION ON THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY


The Secretariat of the Commissions of Inquiry wishes to inform the public that the Commissions will commence public hearing in January 2019.
The Commission of Inquiry will implement a key manifesto promise of His Excellency the president Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, to combat corruption, bring accountability in governance and foster economic growth for the people of Sierra Leone.

The secretariat therefore wishes to encourage members of the public to support, assist and own the process as the “THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSION”. You can support the process by providing relevant information relating to the assets of persons who were President, Vice Presidents, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and other public officials who served in government between 2007 and 2018.

Assets for which the Secretariat seeks information on include: lands, houses, bank accounts, shares in companies, cars and any other property of value. The commission Secretariat will also appreciate any other information regarding mismanagement and misconduct in their official functions.

In view of the above, members of the public are encouraged to own and assist the process by providing relevant information regarding the assets of public officials and pecuniary resources while in office during the said period to the following email addresses:

  1. cominquiry@mic.gov.sl
  2. coiinfo@lawofficers.gov.sl
    Alternatively, members of the public who reside in Freetown could take relevant information regarding the assets of public officials and pecuniary resources or other information regarding mismanagement and misconduct in their official functions to the Commissions Secretariat at the LAW OFFICERS’ DEPARTMENT, FIRST FLOOR OF GUMA BUILDING, LAMINA SANKOH STREET, FREETOWN.      
  3. For members of the public residing in the provinces, who hold relevant information that will aid the work of “the peoples’ Commission of Inquiry”, are encouraged to call or text your name, address and telephone contact to the following numbers and the Secretariat of the Commissions will get in touch with you to obtain your information.
  4. +232 75 011982
  5. +232 76 649647
    THE PUBLIC IS ADVISED NOT TO GIVE ANY INFORMATION OR DOCUMENT TO ANY BODY OR AUTHORITY THAN THE COMMISSION SECRETERIAT THAT WILL CONTACT YOU TO MAKE ADEQUATE ARRANGEMENTS TO OBTAIN YOUR INFORMATION AND
    ASSURE YOUR PROTECTION.
    The Commission wishes to assure potential witnesses that their identity would be protected.
  6. Signed by
    The Secretariat of the Commission
    Ministry of Justice
    17 DECEMBER, 2018

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone Pays a Courtesy Call on President Julius Maada Bio in Freetown

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone and Guinea, Jean-Marc Grosgurin, has paid a courtesy call to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at his State House office in Freetown.

Ambassador Grosgurin said that he was happy to have travelled all the way from Guinea, where he resides, to not only strengthen the bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and France, but to also discuss the future of the two countries, especially around key projects and investments.

The French envoy also stated that since the closure of their embassy in Freetown in 1996, past governments of Sierra Leone had considered opening a mission in Paris, the French capital that would help the two countries to do business easily. He added that he looked forward to seeing President Bio fulfil that dream of opening an Embassy in Paris. 

In appreciation, the President expressed gratitude for the visit and described it as one that he had been looking forward to since he took up the office in April, adding that the two countries had come a long way.

“The two countries have been close for a long time in trade and investment and that has helped boost our economy, particularly the contributions of French companies in Sierra Leone like Orange SL, Bollore and Air France,” he noted.

He also told the French Ambassador that his government was committed to working with the people of France on economic diversification like marine resources, and trade and investment from very credible investors.

“We have to continually invest in trade and industry so that we can stop going out to beg from our brothers and sisters in other countries,” President Bio said.

A historic election of a Somali ex-refugee woman to Congress shows how the American dream evolves

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Ilhan Omar made history

Somali, Muslim, refugee, woman: Ilhan Omar made history in all those categories last night as voters backed her bid to the US Congress.

The 36-year-old Democrat candidate was resoundingly elected with over 78% of the vote in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, joining the surge of fresh new candidates who helped the Democrats take back the House. Her Republican opponent Jennifer Zielinski got only 22% of the vote. Her election was among many firsts in the high-stakes midterm polls, including the victory of an openly gay governor in Colorado, and the first Native American women elected to Congress from Kansas and New Mexico.

Born in Somalia, Ilhan fled war with her family and grew up partly in Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps located in Kenya. She moved to the US with her family in 1995, aged 14. In 2016, she became the first Somali-American woman elected to state legislaturein the US. The mother of three then decided to run for Congress this year after Keith Ellison, an African-American Muslim and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, vacated the seat to run for attorney general in Minnesota.

Ilhan campaigned on a progressive agenda including reforming the criminal justice system, creating a $15 minimum wage, providing universal health coverage and subsidizing college education.

Ilhan’s win is a demonstrably personal achievement for her and a symbolic triumph for the Somali-American diaspora. (Along with Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, she is now poised to become one of two first Muslim women elected to Congress.) The community has in recent years faced scrutiny even as they pushed for more integration, launched successful businesses and made political strides.

This was heightened during the Trump presidency, with the administration instituting a travel ban on countries including Somalia. This only helped to galvanize the community, pushing many of them to run for office and make history alongside Ilhan last night. Her state seat in District 60B in southeast Minneapolis was clinchedby Mohamud Noor, who became the first Somali-American man elected to state legislature.

As results started trickling in, Ilhan’s triumph elicited hearty responses from Somalis across the world. Dancing to the popular Somali song Dirgax, she noted the historic moment, reflected on her dire upbringing and thanked the people of the North Star state for believing in the potential and strength of immigrants.

“Here in Minnesota, we don’t only welcome immigrants; we send them to Washington,” she said.

Publishes courtesyof Quartz Africa

 IOM Director General Meets with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Chairperson of African Union Commission

The Director General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM), H.E. António Vitorino, met with the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, and with H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa on 27 and 28 October 2018, respectively.

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H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed

In his meeting with H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed at the National Palace, the IOM Director General congratulated the Prime Minister on his robust reform agenda, for making peace with Eritrea and advancing women’s leadership in politics.

Ethiopia’s newly constituted cabinet comprises 50 per cent women and stands out as the only country on the continent with a female president following the recent appointment of H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde on 25 October 2018.

For his part, Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed expressed appreciation for the contribution of IOM in Ethiopia in response to the recent spate of displacements in the south-west of the country, and in enhancing capacities for effective migration governance in Ethiopia. He further expressed the need for support in the area of job creation for the youth – a pressing priority of his government.

The IOM Director General subsequently met with the African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the African Union headquarters, along with commissioners Amira El Fadil Mohammed and Minata Cessouma Samate. The meeting covered a broad range of areas of ongoing cooperation between the AUC and IOM, discussed potential additional areas for partnership going forward, and went on to underline the importance of AU leadership on African migration challenges.

German Ambassador and Gambian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Present Credentials to President Julius Maada Bio at State House

The German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Horst Gruner, and the new Gambian High Commissioner, Ebraima Manneh, have presented their credentials to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio during a brief ceremony at State House.

Ambassador Gruner said it was a pleasure handing his credentials to President Bio. He said Sierra Leone and Germany had enjoyed long-standing bilateral ties which he hoped would further be strengthened during his tenure in the country.

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He noted that the was recognised in the international scene as an example for overcoming conflicts, building peace, strengthening democracy and human rights, conducting peaceful elections and fostering economic development.

His Excellency Gruner disclosed that the German government was fully aware of the dignified role that President Bio was playing at the moment on the international stage and that he was particularly grateful to serve in the country.

“The countries have collaborated in a lot of ways, over the years. The fight against the Ebola virus was one that lasted much longer than expected and Germany was one of the countries that helped during the outbreak. Mr President, I can assure you of the full intention of the German government to stand by Sierra Leone in its quest for better social, political and economic future under the New Direction and towards prosperity,” he assured.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Manneh of the Gambia said Sierra Leone and the Gambia had enjoyed a fruitful relationship dating back to the colonial era. He said the two countries had a lot of similarities, especially in culture, which he cherished so much. He noted that a lot of Gambians had visited Sierra Leone, especially in pursuit of education.

His Excellency Manneh expressed his appreciation to President Bio and his new administration for introducing the free quality education, adding that education was the foundation for development. He promised to use his office to further deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“Over the years, there has been a notable increase in the presence of Sierra Leoneans in The Gambia and Gambians in Sierra Leone. I am convinced, therefore, that there is a huge scope for formal cooperation in several areas like education, tourism, cultural exchanges, fisheries, health among others for the benefit of the two counties. I have followed keenly the recent ECOWAS meeting held in Lome and the role you played in the deliberations of that august body. Despite being your maiden attendance, your performance was remarkable. I have no doubt that your effective participation, zeal and the seriousness you have shown at the summit of our sub-regional body will continue to be recognised by your peers,” he said.

In his brief statement, President Bio said: “I welcome you to our country. You are here to strengthen the bond between our countries and while you are here be rest assured of my government’s support”.

 

 

Sierra Leone: President Bio calls on the UN to address injustice and imbalance in the present configuration of the Security Council

Sierra Leone President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio has called on the United Nations to address this longstanding injustice and imbalance perpetuated in the present configuration of the Security Council.

UNGA20181While addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York – 27 September 2018, President Bio said Africa is the only region without representation in the Permanent category of the Security Council.

“Africa is also under-represented in the Non-permanent category. Africa’s demand for two Permanent seats with all the rights and prerogatives of current members, including the right of veto, and two additional Non-permanent seats is a matter of common justice, and the right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues that affect the African region. It is time that we address this longstanding injustice and imbalance perpetuated in the present configuration of the Security Council without any further delay. Africa is committed to on-going reforms that will make the United Nations fit for purpose.”

Below is the Statement by His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone 

Statement by His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York – 27 September 2018.

Mr Chairman,

Colleague Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is a distinct honour for me to address this august assembly for the very first time as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

On behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, I extend heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Ghana and to the United Nations family on the passing of Mr. Kofi Atta Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. He served humanity and the world with distinction, and in our country’s hour of need, he helped steer our nation out of the deep abyss of seemingly intractable war. May he rest in perfect peace. He always showed us what is possible and what is best in humanity.

Mr Chairman,

Our commitment to building a peaceful and more secure world, as espoused in the United Nations Charter, as well as, our commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and on-going reform processes of the United Nations, resonates with the theme “Making the United Nations Relevant to all People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”  The work of the United Nations should continue to be guided by the values on which it was founded, including, promoting peace, security, human rights, equality of all nations, and the promotion of social progress and better standards of life.

Mr Chairman,

In April this year, Sierra Leoneans registered their commitment to democratic governance with yet another peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent political party to the opposition. We acknowledge with humility the many messages of commendation from various parts of the world for conducting peaceful and credible Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Councils Elections, which led to my election as President. On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, we sincerely appreciate the invaluable contributions of the international community in facilitating and monitoring our electoral process. We acknowledge the role of the United Nations and our development partners for supporting the successful conduct of those elections. We are a successful model of a stable democracy – one that has evolved and matured in 20 years from the chaos and lawlessness of civil conflict.

But stable democracies must be sustainable. Sierra Leoneans voted for a change of Government; they voted for a new direction and the right direction. My Government is ready to maximize our country’s potential for development because we believe that development sustains emerging, successful, and stable democracies like ours. The international community has invested hugely in facilitating and stabilizing Sierra Leone’s democracy. The international community must continue to play its role in sustaining Sierra Leone’s democracy in collaboration with the Government and people of Sierra Leone. In particular, we acknowledge the support of UNDP and UNCDF for their support for our economic transformation.

In addition to our firm commitment to good governance and prudent and accountable management of our nation’s resources, we are ready to foster a conducive and congenial environment for credible GDP growth.  We call on our bilateral partners to help us deliver on the expectations of our people with development funds, technical assistance, and the cultivation of valuable trade links. We cordially invite all credible investors into an open and congenial investment environment where all your investments are guaranteed and protected by our relevant laws and where we have worked assiduously to remove barriers to investment. Help us to sustain our stable democracy.

Mr. Chairman,

This Assembly made a historic pledge during the World Summit held in 2005: A pledge “to strengthen the United Nations with a view to enhancing its authority and efficiency, as well as its capacity to address effectively, and in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter, the full range of challenges of our time”.

A number of gains have been made, including the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, and the adoption of the resolution on Responsibility to Protect. These gains are laudable, but the need for reform is urgent and imperative. We should now endeavor to demonstrate the political will to particularly redress the historical injustice done to the African continent.

The present geopolitical realities are compelling for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council to make way for equitable representation in all Organs of the United Nations.

Africa is the only region without representation in the Permanent category of the Security Council. Africa is also under-represented in the Non-permanent category. Africa’s demand for two Permanent seats with all the rights and prerogatives of current members, including the right of veto, and two additional Non-permanent seats is a matter of common justice, and the right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues that affect the African region. It is time that we addressed this longstanding injustice and imbalance perpetuated in the present configuration of the Security Council without any further delay. Africa is committed to on-going reforms that will make the United Nations fit for purpose.

As the Coordinator of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the reform of the United Nations, we reiterate our concern over the continuous inaction of this body to adopt measures that will lead to Africa taking its rightful place in the Security Council. Unless we are able to contend with the reform of the Security Council – the most critical question of the day – our organization will be seemingly constituted on undemocratic and discriminatory principles.

Let me reiterate the urgent need for comprehensive reform of the Security Council. 1.2 billion of the world’s population of 7.5 billion are African. 1.2 billion of the world’s population continues to contribute its fair share to maintaining world peace and security. About 70% of the decisions made at the UN Security Council ultimately affect those 1.2 billion Africans. Those 1.2 billion people are affected by over 70% of the UN’s resolutions. 1.2 billion of the world’s population therefore asks why it should be excluded from representation on the UN Security Council. Those 1.2 billion people simply want their voices to be fully represented on the UN Security Council.

Mr Chairman,

My Government’s blueprint document for moving our country forward  – the “New Direction” – focuses on taking Sierra Leone beyond the phase of peacebuilding and consolidation to firmly establishing a stable, peaceful, open, and pluralistic democracy that is a responsible and committed member of the community of nations.

At the domestic level, my Government has established priority areas including job creation; access to quality education; youth empowerment; empowerment of women and the disabled; combating graft and corruption and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency; ensuring effective and efficient public service delivery; and strengthening civic responsibility and national cohesion.

Guided by both our specific situation and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our governance initiative and policy actions involve strengthening our democratic institutions, opening up democratic spaces, promoting democratic dialogues, and creating a more just and equal society. We see these as precursors for the sustainable growth of our economy and our development as a nation.

My Government’s economic and development policies, as I stated inter-alia, create a congenial environment for credible private sector investment and entrepreneurship. We are eager to work with and listen to the private sector. Our policies are enabling and our investment framework is attractive.  We can ensure the full legal protection of all investments and we can ensure predictable and profitable revenue streams and returns on investments.

Sierra Leone is at the beginning of adopting renewable energy.  We now need public and private investment for commercial and industrial use, powering hotels, agriculture, and small-scale manufacturing. My country is endowed with significant renewable energy resources in solar irradiation, coastal and offshore wind, mini-hydro, and bioenergy. My Government’s target of 60% renewable energy capacity by 2030 is practicable especially to generate growth in rural areas. Our country, like most developing countries, has been on the expensive and dirty liquid fuel treadmill since independence.

My government is seeking international technical assistance and capacity building for migrating a percentage of my country’s power-generation away from heavy liquid fuel to liquid natural gas (LNG) trucked to site. My government is seeking collaboration between local companies and US engineering companies that have proven experience in working on PowerAfrica funded LNG-Power projects in Africa. We believe that investment in renewable energy sources and LNG will help us meet SDG 7 by modernizing our energy generation systems and this will have a multiplier effect in helping our country meet SDGs for poverty alleviation through job creation and increased investments, health delivery, water, and cities. We are determined to make Sierra Leone the renewable energy hub of the ECOWAS regional block. Our vision is good for our world’s climate, good for foreign and local investors and development, and good for our country.

My Government has a bold vision for science, technology, and innovation. I have established the first Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation We have set a bold and achievable target of 2025 for developing solid ICT infrastructure that will support graft-free governance and the delivery of effective, reliable, responsive, and transparent services from banking and business to education, agricultural extension, revenue collection, healthcare delivery, access to justice, governance, tourism, trade, and the rule of law.

Mr. Chairman,

We have undertaken extensive reforms in line with SDG 16 plus to create a peaceful, just, and inclusive Sierra Leone with resilient institutions. We are engaged in judiciary and criminal justice reform and in collaboration with civil society and partner organizations, we continue to build on gains in justice delivery that take into account disparities in access to justice. We have launched a focused and sustained campaign against graft and waste and misuse of public funds. Our National Revenue Authority has streamlined revenue collection and reduced tax evasion and theft. We have launched a free quality education programme that provides access to basic through secondary education for the girl child and other children of school-going age. We are building, re-tooling, and opening up our governance, healthcare, financial, and other institutions to empower our women, young persons, the aged, and disabled compatriots. We are also reviewing discriminatory laws and practices and we will engage communities in order to change traditional strictures that have excluded those persons. In particular, our young people, like young people the world over are energized and eager to make Sierra Leone a better place. Our development policies and priorities harness their vibrancy and direct it into targeted education and skills training, entrepreneurship, and strong civic participation.

We are working towards a comprehensive biometric identification system so that all citizens can fully participate in the economic and civic life of our nation. In particular, we acknowledge the support of UNDP, KIVA and UNCDF in strengthening our National Digital Identification System. Their assistance modernizes our credit reference bureau that will radically transform the financial inclusion landscape and the ease of doing business in our country.

We are fully committed to promoting a free press, rescinding adversarial public order laws, and protecting and promoting the right of citizens to know and to access information. We have instituted a national civic education council to further ensure the unrestricted participation of every Sierra Leonean in our stable democracy. For all of the foregoing, we need a constructive but intensive and sustained engagement with our bilateral partners and partner institutions.

Mr. Chairman,

My Government is committed to increasing equitable access to quality healthcare for Sierra Leoneans. We call on bilateral partners, organizations, private persons to help us invest in and also develop our critical institutional, technical, human resource capacity, as well as develop infrastructure that ensures the delivery of quality healthcare for Sierra Leoneans.

We recall with great appreciation the magnanimity of the world as we dealt with recent deadly epidemics like the Ebola virus disease, and the sustained interventions of our partners in helping us battle tropical diseases including malaria, cholera, and typhoid. We need more help in all those areas and in expanding and maintaining all immunization levels at a 100%.

My government has increased healthcare investment. But that will not be enough. We call on the international community to enhance our institutional and technical capacity for preventative healthcare, and for managing public health and environmental sanitation issues including waste management and storm drain water management in urban areas.

Mr Chairman,

Sierra Leone welcomes the UN’s renewed commitment to conflict prevention as embodied in its Charter. The world, more now than ever before, needs a stronger United Nations and consistent and effective multilateralism that collectively ponders and cooperatively resolves mankind’s common challenges from trade to climate change, and from world security to our common humanity, and our collective social and economic well-being. Our foreign policy should be driven by the golden rule, impartiality, and cooperation. This is the only way humanity can respond effectively, without hesitation, to the global challenges that we face.

We acknowledge the continued relevance of the Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument, which constitutes the global framework to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. We welcome the Secretary-General’s reform agenda in sustaining peace, including the efforts to reform peacekeeping as one of the most effective tools available to the UN in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security. My Government will bolster Sierra Leone’s participation in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security as a Troop and Police Contributing Country and supporting UN peacekeeping operations, especially with the deployments of formed units or contingents of both military and police.  Sierra Leone stands ready to continue contributing to world peace and security.

Mr. Chairman,

With a strong belief in a shared vision and a common destiny, Sierra Leoneans stand with the world in meeting the world’s challenges. Sierra Leoneans equally look to the world for all the help the world can offer to help consolidate Sierra Leone into an economically developed, open, inclusive, and pluralistic democracy. We are “one, with a faith that wisdom inspires; one, with a zeal that never tires.” We are optimistic because our country stands ready on the threshold of a new direction.

I thank you for your attention.