Commemorating the sixty (60) years of diplomatic ties existing between the two countries, Sierra Leone and South Korea have on Thursday 1st December 2022, held a successfully Development Cooperation and Investment forum at the conference hall of the Sahmyook University in South Korea.
Welcoming the participants in the ceremony, the President of Sahmyook University, Dr. Park Doo-ha thanked the dignitaries for attending the Development Cooperation and Investment forum. Dr. Park Doo-ha expressed his felicity for such a momentous gathering of respectable people.
“Today, is a historic day for our university,” said Dr. Park Doo-ha, adding by stating that so many Ambassadors and other dignitaries converge at the university to discuss on investment and developmental issues between Sierra Leone and South Korea. He added that, this is a testament of the diplomatic relationship that have existed between the two countries. On behalf of the Korean Government, he stated that, they look forward to more cooperation than ever before.
“We are Tigers and Sierra Leoneans are widely referred to as Lions,” said the President of Sahmyook University, adding that, when Tigers and Lions work together they can accomplish anything. The Sahmyook University, he said is a friend to Africa and in the nearer future they are looking forward to promote growth and development in Africa. Dr. Park Doo-ha assured that they will also work with the people of Sierra Leone.
In his statement, the Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to South Korea, His Excellency Ambassador Kathos Mattai commended the people and Government of South Korea for the diplomatic relationship existing between the two countries. Ambassador Kathos Mattai went on to say that since the
Establishment of the diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1962, the two countries have been supportive to each other. Ambassador Mattai further commended the Korean Government for always coming to the aid of the people of Sierra Leone, adding that, the City Hall in Freetown was constructed by the Korean Government.
“The Freetown City Council hall was funded by the Korean Government amounting to USD 55 million and built with the help of Korean Engineers,” said Ambassador Mattai, adding that, during the Ebola crisis, Korea sent a team of medical experts and medical supplies to help contain the virus. He further stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Korean Government provided support to
help fight the virus.
“Korean Government donated 19,200 test kits to Sierra Leone through the World Health Organization and 200,000 facemasks through UNICEF. The strong solidarity that we share with the people of Korea in the fight against COVID-19 help us overcomes the pandemic together,” he added, stating further that, as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Korea, he is delighted to note that, the robust friendship between the Korean Government and the Government Sierra Leone.
He said that Korea and Sierra Leone both share similar histories, as we both suffered from civil war, adding that, the people of both countries also share great optimism and hope for a brighter future.
“We share a common vision of peace, prosperity, and progress. This is why Sierra Leone continues to closely collaborate with Korea in various areas including politics, economy, culture, public health, fisheries and education,” he noted, stating further by mentioning the donation of four speedboats, the provision of five protocol vehicles to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the reconstruction of a burnt primary school are among the examples of recent Korean support that have helped strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Addressing potential investors, the Director General of the National Mineral Agency (NMA), Julius Mattai informed the gathering of business magnate that the mining sector of Sierra Leone is ripe and ready for investment. He added that Sierra Leone has a population of 7.6 million people while Korea has a population of 52 million people. He continued by stating that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sierra Leone is at four billion leones whilst Korea is at 1.8 billion USD. In diplomatic relation, he said that it is not about the size of the economy but having meaningfully and sustainable relationship. He lauded that, even though Sierra Leone is a small country in Africa but it is geologically blessed in Africa, adding that, the Geology of the country makes Sierra Leone very unique. He continued by stating that Sierra Leone is rich in minerals such as Bauxite, Gold, Diamond and Iron Ore and lots more.
“Despite Gold and Diamond, we have a lot of minerals that are interest to other countries,” he said, stating further that, Sierra Leone has rare earth minerals that are very critical for the electronics, automobile, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries and hence have been declared strategic minerals in several developed countries, including South Korea.
He further stated that Sierra Leone has 30% of the world’s natural rutile deposit and also one of the largest iron ore deposit in Africa, at 12.8 billion tonnes. He added that Sierra Leone also has gem quality diamond deposit from Kimberlite pipes.
The NMA boss also stated that Sierra Leone has recently completed a comprehensive nationwide airborne geophysical survey and produced several geophysical and geological datasets that lower the cost and risk of mineral exploration and mining investments in Sierra Leone.
Making a presentation on the transport sector of the country, the Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Mr. Adams Steven acknowledged the strides made by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio in transforming the transport sector as one of the viable sectors of the country. Mr. Steven further informed the audience that part of their duties is to formulate policies, providing supervision, and coordinating all transport related issues in the country. He further noted that, the Ministry of Transport is in charge of Land, Air and Sea transportation of the country.
As a result of the complexity of the sector, Mr. Steven continued by stating that the Ministry of Transport work in tandem with other agencies like the Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), the Sierra Leone Maritime, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority and the Sierra Leone Road Transport Cooperation monitor, and enforce full compliance by all players in the sector. He added that, the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority is in charge of Registering of vehicles, issuing of licenses to drivers plying the roads of Freetown and beyond. He continued by stating that, the Sierra Leone Transport Cooperation supervises and operates all government transportation in the country.
“Recently the ministry has tried to change the Transport cooperation to an Authority,
the objective is to privatize the operations of the authority and regulate it,” he noted, stating further that, the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration is a regulatory body in charge of monitoring and supervising all maritime issues in the country. Mr. Steven also informed the audience that the Sierra Leone Ports Authority handles all ports related matters in the country and work closely with the National Shipping Company which serves as a shipping company for the government. He also said that Air transportation has two agencies which are the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority which is the regulator and the Sierra Leone Airport Authority which operates and controls the airports.
He concluded by stating that the Ministry of Transport is a key partner in the
development trajectory of the country and he encourages potential investors to invest in the transport sector of the country.
By Michaela Bonnie
Sierra Leone Embassy in Seoul, South Korea