“Over the years, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, to a large extent, has not taken a pivotal role in the growth of the economy and this is the very first time in the history of our country that tourism has been a flagship programme for the country. During this administration, the Ministry’s resource allocation to do programmes has increased and we have had quite a number of goodwill from partners because the sector is now seen as a flagship programme,” she said.
Chairman of the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Entertainment (FACE-Sierra Leone), Jimmy Bangura, popularly known as “Jimmy B”, said they were gratified by the opportunity to share their work and vision with the President. He said the entertainment industry would not only help in job creation and poverty alleviation but would also help to bring stability in the country, noting that with the political will and necessary support structures, the industry would be a source of job creation for youth.
“Your Excellency, now more than ever, I believe the entertainment industry is in a better position to grow, create jobs, promote cultural and heritage awareness and expand the creative industries. Our Foundation comes in to absorb some of the people from the street or elsewhere and give them a platform so they can also actualise their dreams. Today, I feel very optimistic about the future of our industry,” he said.
In his response, President Julius Maada Bio said he was happy to meet with members of the entertainment industry to start off discussions on the way forward. He said his government was aware of the need to support the industry, adding that he was committed to doing that. He noted that entertainers were a part of the society who have played an instrumental role in keeping the society healthy.
He stated that in the modern world people excel in so many things and it was the responsibility of government to support everyone to reach their highest potentials. He also added that it was the business of government to develop the entertainment industry, especially with its high potential to create employment for people and its ability to serve as a support tool to the tourism sector.
“There is so much in this country. We have the sites, culture and things to show and if we are to succeed as a destination from tourism, we should also combine that with entertainment. People will want to come here to be joyful and be entertained, which is the memory they will take back and that is how we will get the industry going. Also, there should be unity among the entertainers and we will continue to create the environment for everyone to succeed,” he assured.