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Friday, 12 April 2013

President Koroma opens UNIDO-supported industrial growth centre in Bo

BO, Sierra Leone, 12 April 2013 – The President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, today opened an Industrial Growth Centre in the south of the country that will be used to train young people in basic skills, ranging from entrepreneurship to trades such as masonry, carpentry, metalworking and tailoring.

At the ceremony in the city of Bo, President Koroma said that “investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and value addition are necessary not only for economic growth and employment, but also for improved social services in both rural and urban communities.”

He added that the “Government, together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other development partners, is committed to the establishment and sustainable management of Industrial/Enterprise Growth Centres in different parts of the country.”

The opening of the Growth Centre in Bo coincides with activities marking the UN campaign to commemorate 1000 Days of Action for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“To date, UNIDO has supported the establishment and rehabilitation of eleven Industrial Growth Centres in Sierra Leone, namely in  Binkolo, Bo, Gbendembu, Kamakwie, Kambia, Koindu, Konta Line, Kpandebu, Newton, Pujehun and Rotifunk, with the Centre in Bo being the largest in the country,” said Taizo Nishikawa, Deputy to the Director General of UNIDO, who is on a visit to Sierra Leone.

The Industrial Growth Centres will help local communities develop their collective purchasing and marketing potential of value added products. They will also have reliable access to low-cost and environmentally friendly energy for operations and for providing other services to local communities. The facility in Bo is powered by a 25 kilowatt solar battery system, the facility in Kpandebu has an 11 kilowatt system, and there is a 16 kilowatt system in place at Pujehun.

“I am confident that this facility will help create new jobs for young people, develop their entrepreneurship and technical skills, and contribute to the growth of local industries, including agro-industries, across Sierra Leone. UNIDO is committed to promoting youth employment through skills training, value addition and manufacturing activities. We are grateful to the Government of Japan and our other partners for their support, and very honoured by the public commendation given to UNIDO and its activities in the country,” said Nishikawa.

Nishikawa added that UNIDO was working with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to conclude the first phase of the fisheries project funded by the Russian Federation. Twenty-one trainers are being sent for a special course in Russia this month so they can continue training at a Fisheries Training Institute being built in Freetown.

Trade capacity building through the development of quality standards and compliance infrastructure and systems remained a top priority for UNIDO’s continued technical cooperation in Sierra Leone, said Nishikawa.

The opening ceremony in Bo was attended by government representatives and members of the diplomatic corps, including Yukiko Harimoto of the Permanent Mission of Japan to Vienna, and Shigeru Hamano, the Deputy Chief of Mission of Japan to Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The facilities in Bo, Kpandebu and Pujehun were rebuilt and equipped by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with funding from the Government of Japan. Other Growth Centres benefitted from funding from the Sierra Leone Multi-Donor Trust Fund (SLMDTF) – a One UN fund jointly allocated by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN Country Team.

During his five-day visit, Nishikawa also met with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Usman Boie Kamara; Energy Minister, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker; Fisheries Minister, Momodu Alieu Pat Sowe, and the Resident Minister for the Southern Province, Muctaru Conteh.

Nishikawa and Minister Kamara signed a joint declaration to develop a new Country Programme in support of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity from 2013 through 2017.

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