The Ministry of Information and Civic Education held a Press Conference on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, chaired by its Minister, Chernor Bah, revealing several significant updates on national matters.
The Minister revealed an increase in the bounty for capturing fugitives, from NLe50, 000 to N Le70, 000. This increase is intended to encourage citizen cooperation with the Police in apprehending the 12 major fugitives, along with others wanted by the law.
He pointed out that all those who helped the police to capture run-away fugitives have all received their rewards. Minister C-Bah further informed the public that, the 12 fugitives on the list are the major ones while stating that the others are also wanted by the Police. He called on citizens to assist the police as the bounty has been increased.
The conference also addressed the pending return of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for continued questioning on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
He informed how the former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s lawyers asked for a break on Thursday with the break ending Tuesday 19th December reiterating how the former President is expected to return to CID on Wednesday 20th December 2023 to continue with the questioning at CID.
Minister Bah provided updates on the Government’s participation in the COP28 event in Dubai, highlighting that the Sierra Leone delegation’s attendance was fully funded by development partners, resulting in no cost to the Government.
He said organizers of COP28 invited almost all the Ministries to attend this year’s event in Dubai maintaining that as financially prudent as the Government of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio is, the Government sent very lean but strategic institutions and agencies to attend the event at zero cost to the Government stressing how the Sierra Leone delegation was supported by development partners.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jiwoh Abdulai, shared that Cambridge University will grant fully-funded scholarships for specific courses benefiting 50 university students and 50 Government officials.
Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, detailed his role as Co-Chair in the Alliance of Champions for Food Systems, launched at COP28. The initiative positions Sierra Leone alongside Brazil, Norway, Rwanda, and Cambodia as countries with robust plans for future food production. He also said it is a platform for countries with strong plans to produce food for now and in the future.
In the health sector, Deputy Minister Dr. Jalikatu Mustapha revealed plans to solar electrify 1,000 health facilities by 2025, with a commitment to extend this to all 1,600 facilities nationwide. The Ministry aims to have 2,000 health facilities by 2030, decreasing the distance citizens must travel for healthcare.
Dr. Jalikatu also confirmed that funding was secured at COP28 to solar electrify 11 tertiary and secondary health facilities.
The Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Ramatulai Wurie, announced a $32 million loan from Eximbank for the construction of the Kono University of Science and Technology, with an additional $2 million contributed by the Sierra Leone Government.
Dr. Wurie also outlined the programs that will be offered at the new University and revealed that admissions are now open, with a call for more women applicants. She disclosed that the following are courses/programs the University of Kono will be offering: BSc. Mining Engineering, BSc. Computer Science, BSc. Information Technology, Diploma in Information Technology, BSc. in Business Information Systems, Bsc. Livestock Management, BSc. Horticulture, BSc. Crop Production, Bsc. Land Resource Management and Diploma in Land Resource Management.
According to her, so far about 80 students have applied and 20% are women adding how the Ministry is encouraging more women to apply.
Minister Bah concluded the conference by thanking Sierra Leoneans for their continuous engagement with the Government’s Press Briefings, encouraging citizens to follow the official social media platforms of the Ministry for cogent and factual information before wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.