The 73 million Euros funding forms the basis of three Financial Agreements signed between the European Commission and the Government of Sierra Leone to support Sierra Leone’s inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth and strengthening of democratic governance.
45 million Euros will be allocated to the State Building Contract which represents the second phase of the European Commission budgetary support to the Government of Sierra Leone; 23 million Euros will support Civil Society Organizations and local authorities to fund and implement development initiatives that respond to the priority needs of communities in a sustainable way; and 5 million Euros will be allocated to the Sierra Leone Component of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme to enhance the country’s integration into regional and international trading systems.
During the bilateral meeting, President Juncker praised President Bio for his impressive leadership and admirable commitment to human capital development, reform agenda, fiscal discipline and efficient economic management.
He was also praised as the leading champion in the fight against corruption and democratic accountability. President Bio was lauded by the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker: “I can only support your fight against corruption. This is good for your country and the European Union in the fight against corruption.”
President Bio thanked the European Commission President for the EC’s support to his new administration and committed to strengthening relations with the European Commission.
Sierra Leone will also benefit from the Erasmus+ Programme which offers opportunities for non-EU individuals and institutions in the areas of education, training, youth and sports. Additionally, Sierra Leone will benefit from the 10 million jobs to be created by the European Union for young people in Africa, aimed at addressing the migration of young people to Europe in search of job opportunities.
This huge financial commitment by the European Commission to support President Bio’s New Direction Agenda, and his several engagements with senior officials of European Union demonstrates tremendous goodwill and confidence the international community has in President Bio and his SLPP government.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to release the $200 million finance package recently re-negotiated by the Bio-led administration after the IMC cancelled its agreement with the former Koroma-led APC administration on allegations of corruption.
As all of this is going on, in the context of the Sierra Leonean President's visit to Brussels, the European Commission and the Government of Sierra Leone launched new projects worth €108 million that aim at supporting macroeconomic stability, government reforms, decentralization and regional competitiveness in Sierra Leone.
Following this occasion, the EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, said: "Sierra Leone’s priorities match the European Union’s ambitions for the country: education, youth employment, an improved business climate and strong governance are all crucial to development. We will work together to boost trade and investment and create job opportunities, especially for the youth."
Of the projects launched, €80 million will support macroeconomic stability and strengthen Sierra Leone's institutional capacity. A large proportion of this budget will be directly disbursed in installments into the national treasury over the next three years, provided that pre-agreed conditions are met.
Decentralization and rural development are at the core of another programme, worth €23 million. Implemented in four districts (Bombali, Kambia, Kenema and Pujehun), it aims at empowering local authorities through technical assistance and direct funding. Additionally, it will work towards strengthening rural civil society to contribute to public policy making and service provision in rural areas.
In terms of competitiveness, €5 million have been allocated to Sierra Leone, under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme, to strengthen the cassava, cocoa and palm oil value chains, by increasing their performance and supporting their growth. This programme will also contribute to improving the business climate, the value chain linkages among the region and the harmonization at country level of regional trade rules and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) regulations.