Why Sierra Leone’s children of war amputees denied access to free education?

In August 2018, the new Government of Sierra Leone launched President Julius Maada Bio’s Free Quality School Education initiative. Though designed to help many vulnerable communities, it has failed to extend the programme to the children of war amputees – the direct victims of Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war which ended 16 years ago, says Melqosh Mission International.

According to the IRIN News report, war rebels in Sierra Leone brutally chopped off the limbs of around 27,000 people during one of West Africa’s bloodiest wars. According to the Amputee and War Wounded Association, Sierra Leone barely has 2,000 war amputees alive today.

Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report  recommended that reparations be made to the children of war amputees and war-wounded in the form of free education, but this has not been implemented to date.

In August 2018, the new Government of Sierra Leone launched President Julius Maada Bio’s Free Quality School Education initiative. Though designed to help many vulnerable communities, it has failed to extend the programme to the children of war amputees – the direct victims of Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war which ended 16 years ago, says Melqosh Mission International.

According to the IRIN News report, war rebels in Sierra Leone brutally chopped off the limbs of around 27,000 people during one of West Africa’s bloodiest wars. According to the Amputee and War Wounded Association, Sierra Leone barely has 2,000 war amputees alive today.

Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report  recommended that reparations be made to the children of war amputees and war-wounded in the form of free education, but this has not been implemented to date.

“Sierra Leone is in breach of the International Law of Human Rights to provide reparation for all war amputees. I was very hopeful that this new Government would uphold the promises made in its Manifesto to prioritise the educational needs of children of the war amputees. I was greatly disappointed when schools reopened on the 16th of September and they were not supported.

“I travelled to Sierra Leone on the 3rd of October to appeal to the Minister of Education, Hon. Alpha Osman Timbo on behalf of the war amputees together with the National Secretary General of the Amputee and War Wounded Association (who is an amputee and a former Special Court Officer during the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor), Mr Tamba Finnoh. Our appeal was rejected.”

“I am appalled that even when attention was brought to the Minister of Education of this faux pas, immediate action was not taken to resolve this governmental mistake.”

Eleanor Abdulai, an amputee and an Ambassador for Melqosh Mission International in Sierra Leone said: “We just want our basic rights as any other person in Sierra Leone. We want inclusion, we want employment. As a person with a disability, we need education just as it is given to any abled person.”

Her video appeal to the Sierra Leonean Government on behalf of war amputees and their children has already had over 45,000 views and been shared over 600 times on Facebook alone, watch here http://bit.ly/EleanorAbdulai

Sierra Leone scraps project for Chinese-built airport


Sierra Leone on Wednesday scrapped a $400m scheme for a Chinese-built airport, saying the scheme was too costly.

In a statement, the ministry of transport and aviation said that “after serious consideration and due diligenc”, the government had determined the Mamamah International Airport initiative was “uneconomical”.

All contracts under the project are being terminated, it said.

Sierra Leone’s previous president, Ernest Bai Koroma, signed a loan agreement with China for the airport shortly before elections in March that his party lost.

His successor, Julius Maada Bio, vowed to stop the scheme.

He also lashed Chinese infrastructure projects generally as “a sham” that brought the impoverished west African state scant economic benefit.

The scheme entailed building a new airport around 50km outside the capital of Freetown.

It would be completed in 2022 and managed and maintained by the Chinese.

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But critics questioned the benefit, given that Freetown’s existing airport, Lungi, is operating below capacity.

The government on Wednesday said it was looking into the possibility of building a bridge between Freetown and Lungi airport – a scheme that has been priced at more than $1 billion.

The airport and another major Chinese project, a toll road, shouldered their way into Sierra Leone’s presidential election in March.

Several candidates declared the schemes were unaffordable and should be scrapped or reviewed.

Bio went furthest, going on record as saying “most of the Chinese infrastructural projects in Sierra Leone are a sham with no economic and development benefits to the people.”

China has provided infrastructure and development aid to Africa since the Cold War.

Debt trap

But its interest and presence in the continent have grown exponentially in the past two decades, in parallel with its emergence as a global economic giant.

China overtook the United States in 2009 as Africa’s biggest trading partner.

Chinese loans, meanwhile, have soared, especially in transport and energy infrastructure.

Some analysts have warned of a debt trap as some of the world’s poorest states struggle to repay their borrowings.

Between 2000 and 2017, China’s government, banks and contractors lent African countries $143 billion, according to the China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

I will restore Sierra Leone’s international reputation – says president Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 November 2018:

President Julius Maada Bio has ended his international assignment after a gruelling week in Senegal and Europe, attending summit and meeting with the European Commission and potential investors for the country.

On Monday he met with the UK Member of the European Parliament – Steven Marcus Woolfe in the European Parliament Buildings, where they had dinner with other MEPs.

Steven Marcus Woolfe MEP said that he hosted President Bio to a dinner at the European Parliament in recognition of Bio’s vibrant leadership and excellent start in moving Sierra Leone in the right direction.

The UK Member of European Parliament praised President Bio for his wonderful stewardship and vision within the last six months in uniting Sierra Leone, efficiently managing the economy, showing leadership in the fight against corruption and investing in human capital development through the free quality education programme.

President Bio thanked the UK Member of the European Parliament, his other colleagues and staff of the European Parliament for the dinner reception and reiterated his commitment to restore Sierra Leone’s international reputation.

He said that his determination to fight corruption, effectively managing the economy and investing in human capital development would serve the best interest of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.

President Bio also expressed his commitment to strengthening relationship between Sierra Leone and the European Parliament.


Championing the cause of African youths in agriculture

The Africa Internship Academy: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 November 2018:

Africa as a continent has reported a significant increase in agriculture development. Agriculture is one of the sectors on the continent with a reasonably high level of revenue from export activities.

Export commodities such as Cocoa, coffee, timber, cashew and maize are some widely known produce that earn the continent much foreign exchange revenue.

Youths over Africa vehemently complain and protest against lack of unemployment, considering ‘white colour jobs’ and ‘blue colour jobs’ as the only jobs in Africa.

Trend in agricultural activity inclusion has focused on rural inhabitants with older folks dominating in many countries across the continent, denoting that the younger folks in these rural areas, together with people from the urban centers are not quite interested in this sector.

It is no surprise that even the unemployed who are surrounded with agricultural opportunities refuse to see them, even if they do, they are reluctant or do not take advantage of them.

Most youths, when asked to campaign for agriculture or raise a voice to agriculture will not hesitate to do it, but when asked to engage in farming, they will definitely not hesitate to say no.

Same analogy applies to most agricultural students, if you ask them about their ambition, they may mention International Agricultural Scientist, a Researcher, an Agricultural Officer, a Banker or a Government Servant, a handful will dare say they want to be farmers.

Several documentations and reports indicate reasons for lack of interest on the part of the youths in Africa, including the unemployed ones.

The youth has it that, Agriculture takes much time and efforts which doesn’t even guarantee absolute success. The Contemporary youth craves for quick money within the shortest possible time, if possible, without much hard work, and since agriculture is not a one day business and also involves a lot of hard work and dedication, they tend to lose interest in it.

Agriculture is perceived by most youths as socially non-prestigious. The graduated youth would rather chase eagerly after ‘white and blue colour jobs’ than to work on a farm. Societal stereotype and perceived inferiority complex of agriculture makes it difficult for even parents to encourage their children, in case they decide to venture into agriculture or farming as a career option.

There is not enough exposure of contemporary youths, especially those at the urban areas to agricultural activities. Since urban areas are industrialized and developed, lands there are usually used for building companies, households and other infrastructures rather than reserved for large scale farming.

Family lands which could otherwise be used for farming will rather be sold out to be used for building and other activities. Because youths are concentrated in the urban centers, they get a little or no exposure in the field of agriculture, hence lack the skills and motivation to go into that field.

Agricultural activities seem uncomfortable and unsafe to the youth. People who are dedicated to agriculture are perceived to go through a lot of things, ranging from stress associated with work to unproductivity due to infestations.

Youths usually want to look their best and have a comfortable work condition, and because starting to farm involves digging, tilling lands, watering, removing weeds, burning, and maybe encountering snakes, scorpions, and other earth creatures, they would rather remain at home than to join the farming train.

The evolved African educational curricula fail to include material agriculture. Some schools teach agriculture but mostly the soft aspect of it, with a little or no practical session. This generally affects the interest buildup of youths towards the agriculture.

We as African youths have however been continuously sensitized in the past few years about the need to venture into agriculture as a career choice. Several campaigns have been launched by some youth advocates in various countries within Africa to create a sense of inclusion for youths and to change the dominant stereotype and preconceptions towards agriculture as a career choice.

The Africa Internship Academy under the umbrella of People Initiative Foundation (PIF) stand to defend this course. We encourage all youths who want to venture into the field not to allow for discouragement. There is now a tremendous improvement in the agricultural sector.

According to Debbie Stabenow, agriculture looks different today – farmers are using GPS and can monitor their irrigation systems over the Internet. With the introduction of modern technology and internet, agriculture has been made much easier and quite enjoyable. This is a great motivation to all youths who want to explore the scope

Some governments have also developed initiatives that will help build the agricultural sector and make it more effective than before. With the provision of free seedlings and fertilizers, free farm productivity strategies and other amazing initiatives, more youths are beginning to build interest in the field and are doing exceedingly great.

Some educational sectors, especially the higher ones have been able to inculcate practical agriculture as an effective course of study. The concept is very practical and involves almost all the aspects such as farming and fishing, so aside the theoretical aspects, students are able to identify with the field and build more interest in it. They are also able to gain skills and adopt strategies to make agriculture easier.

According to Gilbert K. Chesterton, true contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare. Most youths are observed not to live life for themselves but rather live life driven by societal control and interference.

The youths need to take responsibility for their lives and choices, follow their dreams and take control of their decisions without fear or intimidation. This is basically the first step to achieve success.

About Africa Internship Academy

Africa Internship Academy (AIA)  (https://www.AfricaInternshipAcademy.com/) is one of the initiatives under the People Initiative foundation. It is an African youth employment accelerator based in Ghana and a self-sustaining social enterprise that trains higher education students and graduates to gain entrepreneurial and employable skills, assign mentors to them to direct them in their career, and also connect them to employers looking for entry-level talents.

AIA’s vision is to reduce the rate of unemployment on the continent by grooming young talents as change agents to transform society and to offer a unique opportunity for future leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over Africa to be groomed professionally, network extensively, experience workplace culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the heavy weights in their chosen industries.

Africa Internship Academy (AIA) which is a YOUTH EMPLOYMENT ACCELERATOR here in Ghana with a continental focus. The platform grooms young Africans with employable skills through an extensive WORK INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAM MODULE.  AIA Modules are focused on EMPLOYABLE and WORK-READINESS SKILLS TRAINING & EARLY BUSINESS ADVISORY SUPPORT.

https://twitter.com/InternsAcademy and https://www.facebook.com/followaia/

About People Initiative Foundation

People Initiative Foundation (https://www.PeopleInitiativeFoundation.org/blog/) is a Pan Africa Youth organization that promotes and supports Africa’s youth to achieve their goals in life. Our Thematic areas: Education & Youth Livelihood Skills Training ;Employment & Employability Skills Trainings; StartUps & SME Incubation Program; Talents Searching / Job Connecting Platform; Mentorship Platform, Internship placements and Social Impact Programs.

These initiatives are geared towards employment, empowerment and job creation for Africa’s youth.

Africa Oil Week – key challenges and opportunities facing oil and gas sector in Africa

Admin-Slonline: 7 November 2018:

Africa Oil Week kicked off with a strong start for its 25th anniversary as delegates converged at the Welcome Reception to celebrate the spectacular opening of Africa Oil Week 2018 and the conference got underway last Monday, 5th November.

The first session on Economic Outlooks was opened with key speakers including Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Norway; David Hicks, Senior Vice President: Upstream, IHS Markit; Jasper Peijs, Exploration Vice President, BP; Mounir Bouaziz, VP Commercial/New Business Development South America & Africa, Country Chair Dubai & Northern Emirates, Shell; Paul McDade, CEO, Tullow Oil and Wale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive, Oando PLC.

The panel addressed the challenges and opportunities the African oil and gas industry is currently facing. The session also highlighted how Africa can remain competitive in this global oil and gas landscape.

“Tullow believes wholeheartedly in Africa’s ability to compete against all other oil and gas producing regions. Africa has natural advantages that other markets simply don’t have. There is no reason for Africa to do anything but grow market share, and Tullow is committed to being a substantial part of that story” said Paul McDade, CEO, Tullow Oil.

nother standout plenary session was the Ministerial Panel led by BBC World Affairs Editor, John Simpson. Six Ministers from South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan and Congo provided insights on their country’s exploration & production strategies.

They explored routes to drive growth in National Oil Companies and the role oil and gas plays within policy and development plans.

A bidding round from the Republic of Congo, a licensing round announcement from Madagascar and a country roadshow from Uganda, once again highlighted the important role Africa Oil Week plays in driving new business opportunities for governments and exploration companies across Africa.

A bidding round from the Republic of Congo, a licensing round announcement from Madagascar and a country roadshow from Uganda, once again highlighted the important role Africa Oil Week plays in driving new business opportunities for governments and exploration companies across Africa.

Tuesday also provided various networking and social functions for delegates including the Ministerial & VIP lunch, Thinktank for Sustainable African Energy (sponsored by Deloitte), PetroAfricanus Dinner (sponsored by Seplat) and the Late Night Networking Reception (sponsored by NOV).

Africa Oil Week is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa on the 5-9 November. For the more information please visit: www.Africa-OilWeek.com

Salone Parliament accused of bid to silence mediae

Protests as Parliament orders TV station to retract report:

Sierra Leoneans have reacted angrily to the demand by Parliament for an apology from TV station for alleged negative report about the House.
Parliament Speaker Abass Bundu ordered the Africa Young Voices Media Empire (AYV) to retract and apologise for the alleged offensive its report on a land dispute.
The dispute involves Ms Veronica Kadi Sesay, a leading member of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLLP), who was accused of land grabbing.
Ms Sesay, according to sources, bought a piece of land which claimed by a third party.
AYV early last month aired interviews with all the three parties, as part of a popular weekly programme on its main TV channel: Caught on Camera.

The broadcaster

Apparently, Parliament was offended by the responses, which suggested popular anger against the lawmakers.
On Tuesday, representatives of the broadcaster appeared before a parliamentary panel chaired by the House Speaker.
Parliament Clerk Umar Paran Tarawallie, said the programme aired live provided a platform for the MP and the House as a whole to be “grossly demeaned” by callers and the other party involved in the land dispute.
The MPs were particularly offended by the fact that callers used the word ‘criminal’ in describing MPs. They say that amounted to defamation.
The lawmakers now want the broadcaster to air another programme retracting the original one and apologise for defaming Parliament.

The freedom

The move has once again heightened concerns over the freedom of expression under President Julius Maada Bio, who came to power promising to repeal the notorious Criminal Libel law, which rights groups say has for decades stifled free speech.
Many Sierra Leoneans took to social media to condemn the action by Parliament.
AYV Director of Operation Samuel Wise Bangura, who led the broadcaster’s team to the House hearing, said the allegations against them were untrue and stressed that Speaker’s order was based on an uninformed point of view.
Mr Bangura said the Speaker did not even watch the said programme and that he was only briefed about its content.
“This is sad for our democracy, a Speaker threatening a journalist that he will not hesitate to incarcerate him if he fails to adhere to his orders, which are uninformed,” said the journalist

Alleged corruption

It is the second attempt by the new government to stifle free speech, according to rights campaigners. Last month, there were similar concerns after the police warned against publicly speaking against the government’s policies.
Parliament, in particular, has come under sustained criticism for its tendency to gag free speech when its comes to its operations.
In 2015, MPs infamously ordered the press to refrain from reporting on alleged corruption in the management of funds meant to fight the deadly Ebola virus epidemic.
Last year, a UK-based accountability campaigner was detained after a damning report by his organisation exposed alleged corruption among MPs.



 Relationship between China and Africa:


1. China invested more than $50billion in African infrastructure projects in a span of 8 years from 2009 to 2017. This is the highest for any country in the world. For example, China recently built a super fast railway line between Nairobi and Mombasa which is worth $3.2billion. They also constructed almost $4.5billion coastal railway line in Nigeria. A $900million dam in Equatorial Guinea. They recently funded for Free Trade Zone in Djibouti. Not just these, there are many more.

2. The annual trade between Africa and China is over $130billion per year. It is projected to cross $200billion by the end of 2018 which is 4times that of Africa’s trade with USA.
3. More than 75% of African students choose China for their abroad study.
4. China is the leading job creator in Africa. Majority of African population is working for Chinese companies.

By the above facts you might think that China is a lot kinder to African nations then any other country including India. But you know, China is an opportunist country, they simply don’t involve themselves in anything until and unless there have a profit in it. From Africa’s point of view, China is a real friend to Africa. But the fact is it’s not so friendly as they think.

Since beginning of 21st century, China has realized about its strength and started trying to dominate over USA at the world level. They want to become the superpower of the world. As a step towards that goal, they started by buying allies. Most of Africa is undeveloped and struggling with many problems. For them to sort out their problems and to develop their country, they need money. China has money, so by resourcing their money into Africa’s development, they’re literally buying them. China had made so much of influence that during 2007 General Assembly Resolution for “Human Rights Situation in North Korea” 45 countries out 54 countries in Africa stood along with China in support to North Korea who is his “best friend”. This is from the political point of view.

From economical point of view, China’s almost a developed country. It’s growth rate has become constant. The reason for China’s growth was its cheap labor in the early ’80s which led tremendous industrialization in China. Now, because of Industrialized China most of the Chinese have been pushed from poverty to middle class level. So, low cost manufacturing is not possible anymore in China. But for it to become economic superpower, they need improve their GDP. With lack of low cost resources in it, China eyed towards Africa, which still has a lot of natural resources to be exploited which can be resourced into Chinese manufacturing companies and to carry in-place manufacturing in Africa itself which has very cheap labor. So they started setting up their industries in Africa and have started to make money out of it. Assuming that their investment in Africa is progressive, they could become world’s economical, political and military superpower in no time.

So, in short my answer to the question, China-Africa’s relation is shown off as China’s helping Africa “with no strings attached”. China’s is having is more benefits out of this relationship than Africa. The way China influencing African countries is very dangerous as the power dynamics shift to China whose ideologies are vastly different and highly aggressive which could lead to disturbance of world’s peace one day.



Sierra Leone dissolution of human rights commission an attack on rule of law


A UN rights expert said Tuesday that Sierra Leone’s decision to de-facto remove all three members of its Human Rights Commission was an attack on the rule of law and must be reversed.

In April 2017 three human rights commissioners were appointed to the commission for a five-year term. However, in June 2018, the President of Sierra Leone, elected in March 2018, ordered the commission’s dissolution, without citing a reason. The commissioners have not been formally dismissed, but in August the new government asked the public to nominate three replacements.

“The Government’s decision to de-facto dissolve the Commission’s current membership undermines the rule of law in Sierra Leone and distracts from efforts to promote and protect human rights, and human rights defenders in the country, the Sierra Leonean authorities should immediately rectify their actions by allowing the commissioners to conclude their five-year term,” said Michel Forst, appointed in 2014 as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) was established in 2004 by an Act of Parliament. The principal objective of the Commission is to protect and promote human rights throughout the country. The UN Special Rapporteur is pursuing the case with Sierra Leonean authorities.


Wobbly start for Sierra Leone’s free Education school programme

Some two million children in Salone went back to school today Monday 17th Sept, in a key test of the country’s free education programme for primary and high school students.

It was a key election pledge of President Bio, who took office in early April, Bio has said he will donate three months of his salary to the scheme, which covers school fees and supplies.

Schools were packed on Monday today 17th Sept and some pupils were unable to get in due to a lack of space.

“We turned down 30 percent of the kids seeking admission at our school due to lack of sitting accommodation. We will not exceed the teacher-pupil ratio of 50 per class,” said Florence Kuyembeh, principal of a girls’ secondary school in the capital Freetown.

But outside, one mother was in tears after her child was turned away for lack of places.

“I’m very disappointed with the free education (scheme). The school failed to admit my kid to the school of her choice due to lack of space,” Safiatu Sesay said.

And others had concerns about just how much of the costs the government was actually going to cover.

“We are happy for the free quality education but the government had promised during the election to provide our children with books, uniform, shoes and school buses but they only paid for school fees,” another parent called Idrissa Kamara said.

Last week, Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa said the government had paid the fees for 1.1 million children in nearly 3,500 schools and would be picking up the tab for another 158,000 pupils.

Despite vast mineral and diamond deposits, Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries and half of the population over the age of 15 is illiterate, according to a UNESCO 2015 report.


Sierra Leone and the World