Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, 27th August 2021.
It could be recalled that in a strong policy manifesto, published in the lead up to the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, the then SLPP candidate, the Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Wonie Bio, promised the people of Sierra Leone a different way of conducting state affairs, placing premium on Human Capital Development as a core element in his overall national agenda.
The foreign policy component of this agenda has seen the establishment of new Embassies/Missions to create expanded avenues for maximising potential benefits consistent with the key national interests of our country.
It is against this backdrop, that the dynamic Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Professor David J. Francis and delegation were warmly received by His Excellency, Atumanni Dainkeh, Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco. The minister and his delegation were in Rabat to officially inaugurate the Sierra Leone Embassy on the 27th August 2021.
In the line of remodelling and projecting Sierra Leone’s diplomatic aspirations, the newly created Embassy of Sierra Leone in Morocco has succeeded in establishing a strong foothold in one of the key countries in the Mediterranean region that is also a crucial player in the Arab world, and increasingly in world affairs.
HE ambassador Atumanni Dainkeh, Sierra Leone’s very first ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco is busy planting and expanding viable diplomatic footprints in vital areas of our overall national goals. His engagement with the Moroccans over this short period has produced several positive results. An agreement has been secured for a considerable increase in scholarships for Sierra Leonean students to pursue higher education in various disciplines in the Kingdom of Morocco, from a token 12 to an encouraging 75 spaces. Ambassador Dainkeh has also obtained a substantial increase in Hajj scholarships from 50 to 250 people. Also, a capacity building study package has been agreed. This would ensure the training of 32 imams with each district providing at least two people for the training program. The Kingdom has also pledged support to the Republic of Sierra Leone in its bid for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council 2023-2024. Additionally, all Sierra Leoneans who have been living in the Kingdom of Morocco without proper documentation will be amnestied and a visa-on-arrival program for holders of Sierra Leone Passport travelling to the Kingdom has been accepted in principle and will form part of the Joint Cooperation Agreement.
The Moroccan Foreign Minister will commence discussions with his relevant colleague Ministers to implement the amesty in a phased manner starting with those who are married to a Moroccan, followed by those with jobs and then the rest.
Finally, the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco has agreed in the spirit of reciprocity, to commence action that would lead to the opening of the Moroccan Embassy in Sierra Leone in February 2022.
In a strategic meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, including other important members of Government, Professor David J. Francis, signed a Roadmap of Cooperation covering the areas of Education, Agriculture, Trade and Investment, Health, Tourism, Youths, Sports and Renewable Energy. Accordingly, several other strategic meetings were also held with the Minister of Harbours and Islamic Affairs, the Director General of the Moroccan Intelligence Agency, Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, and the Director General of Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation.
In his keynote speech during the official opening ceremony of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Rabat, Professor Francis acknowledged the strategic location of the Kingdom of Morocco and maintained that President Bio considers the Kingdom as a reliable partner and friend in Sierra Leone’s development aspirations. “The Government of President Bio has undertaken to effectively rebrand Sierra Leone in this rapidly changing international environment, and we consider the Kingdom of Morocco to be a reliable partner in this endeavour”, Minister Francis underlined.
Following the inauguration, the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Rabat assembled a host of prominent Moroccan investors in a meeting with the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone and his delegation at the Embassy on Saturday 28th August 2021. During this meeting several investment and trade opportunities were deliberated on. The Honourable Minister presented Sierra Leone to the Moroccan Investors as an ideal business environment. Responding to the Minister’s presentation, the head of the Investment Board in Morocco thanked the Honourable Minister and his delegation for choosing to further deepen the existing cordial relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco and assured them of their fullest cooperation and commitment which will be demonstrated by a high-level investment visit to the Republic of Sierra Leone in December 2021. The visit he affirmed, will be focussed on creating visibility for possible investment areas and to familiarise themselves with major actors in the trade and investment sector.