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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Speaking Points EU Ambassador Tom Vens BAFS Agribusiness and Innovative Farming, 20 February 2020

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Today’s launch is the culmination of many months of intense exchanges and cooperation between my office and colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. What we achieved represents a radical shift in the way we work as partners. For the first time private sector partners are in the driving seat in implementing projects to mobilize the economic potential of Sierra Leone.

I am convinced that this new approach can unlock private investment and exploit significant opportunities in the agriculture sector with a specific focus on jobs for youth.

This reflects our common understanding that the private sector holds the largest potential for generating jobs and growth and it is therefore essential to boost responsible investments in Sierra Leone.

To maximise the private sector investment that we will support through our programme, we identified the most promising value chains. On the basis of this, calls for proposals were organised. And I wish all to play an active role in monitoring progress through these interventions. I invite all to play a part in ensuring accountability.

What we witness today is the result of a highly competitive process. Out of a total of 67 applications, 15 highly relevant projects emerged. They represent the EU and Sierra Leone’s commitment to take our partnership for investment and jobs to the next level and to deliver on the Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs as part of the European Union – African Union Partnership. At the centres of this Alliance are:

  1. Boosting strategic investments for job creation and strengthening the role of the private sector
  2. Investing in people by investing in education and skills
  3. Strengthening the business environment and investment climate
  4. Tapping the full potential of economic integration and trade

For private sector to succeed, it requires a peaceful and predictable environment, a level playing field, security and stability.

Along with macro-economic stability and open financial systems for increased private sector investment these can provide for an enabling investment climate and business environment. We will continue working with our partners to address broader critical governance issues, such as the rule of law, transparency and accountability. We want to continue to join hands to fight corruption and illicit financial flows and to build strong institutions. These are all necessary to create the conditions for robust and equitable private sector growth and job creation.

Therefore these grants are not a stand-alone initiative: They are part of EU’s comprehensive strategy to promote peace, stability and prosperity.

I am very excited that today, with the launch of these programmes, we are sending a clear message about partnership; about a new way of doing business. Today’s launch is only the beginning.

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