By Betty Milton, Information Attache Brussels, Belgium
During the 112th session of Council of Ministers of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Francis Kai-kai pledged Sierra Leone’s commitment to the climate change.
This session was held virtually for three days with the Sierra Leone delegation led by the Minister of Planning and Economic Development and was attended by the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium, H.E Samuel Tamba Musa and Saifu George, First Secretary in the Embassy.
The Session considered the report of the Secretary-General of the OACPS and the report of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors submitted to the Council of Ministers for adoption.
Key areas the Minister highlighted in an interview after the meeting was that of climate change, biodiversity and the resolution of the new name for the new partnership agreement which is the Samoa Agreement which has been endorsed by the Council.
This New Partnership-Agreement was initialed by both the OACPS and the EU in April, 2021 following negotiations by both sides and is to be signed later in 2021 or early 2022 in Samoa following the completion of procedures for approval.
As a country where fisheries remain a vibrant sector of the economy, the Minister of Economic Development endorsed the presentation on the state of play of the fisheries negotiations by the Foreign Minister of Jamaica, Kamina Johnson-Smith.
Minister Kai-Kai then committed Sierra Leone to the outcome of the next steps of negotiations on the matter.
During the plenary proceedings relating to the presentation by the Secretary-General of the OACPS strategic plan of the organisation, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai made an intervention on the role of member states in the preparation of the strategic plan.
He drew attention to the lessons learned from the European Development Fund (EDF) and counted on the preparedness of member states in terms of the benefits envisaged from the new partnership arrangement with the EU.
On the issue of climate change and climate financing, the Minister said in the interview that “climate change is a universal issue which we have recognised a long time ago” and as a country, he maintained, Sierra was very vulnerable to climate change in relation to some studies which have ranked the country as the third most vulnerable country to the affairs of climate change in the world.
He disclosed that Sierra Leone will continue to prioritize any action that would help mitigate the impact of climate change and the issue of biodiversity which contributes to climate change. He expressed Sierra Leone’s determination to be part of this global momentum to deal with climate change and sustainable development.
He expressed the willingness to support any legislation or resolution that would enable regulate the exploitation and ensure the utilization and conservation of our resources.
Another crucial area was one that had to do with the issue of digital connectivity and digital solutions programme to strengthen the resilience of education, health and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises systems to COVID-19 in ACPS countries.
With education being the flagship initiative of this government, Dr Francis Kai-Kai maintained that “we continue to support free, quality education” as according to the Minister, “22% of our national budget goes to this sector and a reasonable one goes to health and that of agriculture”.
These are three legs of the flagship programme the Minister emphasised to promote human capital development and which the government remains very supportive of in terms of the resilience of the country to development.