President Koroma Hosts AU Chairperson

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday 23rd October hosted a high powered delegation led by the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa Mr. Carlos Lopes at State House, Freetown.

Mrs. Zuma was in the country to assess the situation on the ground, efforts made by government to contain the Ebola outbreak and explore ways in which the AU can intervene such as convincing African flights to resume operations in the West African Sub region.

President Koroma described the visit as a signal to the international community that Sierra Leone is still open and does not want to be isolated. “This visit gives us a lot of hope,” he said. He informed the delegation that the country has so far adhered to the protocols of the World Health Organization (WHO) and added that government was quite ready and committed to improve on screening measures already in place at the country’s international airport. The president emphasized the need for flights to resume in order to ameliorate the impact of Ebola on the socio-economic conditions of the people in the affected countries. He mentioned the gains and progress the country was registering when Ebola struck and furthered that the post Ebola efforts will be on re-positioning the country where it was as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Dr Zuma stated that she was in the country to look at what more the AU can do and further liaise with the government. She informed the president of engaging the private sector in mobilizing African business people to assist both in the fight against Ebola and address the aftermath of the outbreak. The AU chairperson also noted she had been talking to the African airlines to resume operations and by extension engaged other foreign airlines to do the same. This, she said will start with the West African countries and disclosed that on the 4th November this year, she will be meeting Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to persuade airlines to resume operations in the three worst affected countries.

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa Mr. Carlos Lopes commended the response of the government in containing the epidemic, and added that the commission was in the country to assess the impact of the outbreak in the fiscal space of the country’s economy. He went on to state that as a commission, they want to be part of the Pan-African response in assessing and addressing the impact of the outbreak in the mining and agricultural sectors as well as the overall economy.

Source : Government of Sierra Leone

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