During his first visit to Sierra Leone, International Development Minister Nick Hurd stressed the UK's commitment to helping Sierra Leone build a brighter future after Ebola and reaffirmed the importance of creating jobs, generating investment and putting young people at the centre of the country's recovery.
Minister Hurd's visit celebrates the longstanding historical ties between the UK and Sierra Leone, where he met President Koroma, Chief of Staff Sesay, Finance Minister Kargbo, Energy Minister Macauley and Health Minister Fofanah to further strengthen our relationship.
Minister Hurd participated in a ceremony at Hastings Logistics Base to mark the donation of the UK's remaining Ebola Response assets and medical equipment to Sierra Leone to help build the country's emergency response capacity. This signifies the next stage of the UK's partnership with Sierra Leone, which helped defeat Ebola and is now strengthening the country's health system to respond to future public emergencies.
The minister also held a high-level discussion with key business leaders to encourage investment into Sierra Leone and boost job opportunities – which are vital for the future success of Sierra Leone and its people.
Young people have a vital role to play in delivering a prosperous future for Sierra Leone. With 70% of Sierra Leoneons under the age of 35, the minister spent time with young people to discuss their aspirations for Sierra Leone and their own lives.
Nick Hurd said:
I am in Sierra Leone 6 months after the country was declared Ebola free to mark the partnership between Sierra Leone and the UK in tackling this deadly disease. The UK led the international response and stood alongside the people of Sierra Leone at this difficult time, now together we must look to the future: to creating jobs, improving education and generating investment to boost economic development. The UK is committed to this strong partnership to build a brighter future for generations to come in Sierra Leone.
During his visit to Freetown, Minister Hurd attended an 'Energy Revolution' event to witness how Sierra Leone is starting to ignite the solar market. He also signed the first of the UK's Energy Africa campaign compact agreements with the government of Sierra Leone. This will outline how governments, businesses and civil society can work together to break down the barriers to the growth of solar energy and help accelerate energy access across Africa.
On signing the compact, Nick Hurd said:
It is unacceptable that today more than 600 million people across sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. In Sierra Leone alone, less than 10% of the population have electricity, and in rural areas where the majority of people live, it is practically non-existent.
Working in partnership with Sierra Leone, the Energy Africa campaign can help to change that. I am very proud to sign the first ever compact agreement on this campaign with the government of Sierra Leone to ignite the solar energy market - helping to power business, hospitals and homes, making sure the poorest people no matter where they live can access clean, reliable and affordable energy.
Since the launch of the Energy Africa campaign in October 2015 African support has continued to grow with countries across the continent pledging to join Africa's solar energy revolution. The new compact is part of the UK's Energy Africa campaign, with 10 nations including Sierra Leone already pledging their support to increase access to energy, crucial for a stronger recovery.
By joining forces with Energy Africa, Sierra Leone is rising to the sustainable energy challenge and will help bring forward universal energy access from 2080 to 2030.