“Our embassy working relationship in EU countries is expanding and deepening" -Ambassador Musa
By Betty Milton, Information Attaché, Brussels, Belgium
Our relationship with the accredited countries in the EU is expanding and deepening since I took up office just two years ago, says Sierra Leone's Ambassador to Belgium, H.E Samuel Tamba Musa has disclosed.
The Ambassador has presented letters of accreditation in the Kingdom of Belgium, duchy of Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, and the Vatican (Holy see) with a presentation in Greece already plan. The presentation of credentials opens the way for official engagements in each Country of accreditation.
Belgium is rightly regarded as the hub of the European Union (EU), linked to many countries and organizations, with several development pathways and investment opportunities.
On Sierra Leone’s relationship with the EU, Ambassador Musa stated that the two sides have built ties and have routinely engage on matters concerning Sierra Leone. The Ambassador participated in the Committee of Ambassadors meeting convened by Organization of Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). The OACPS has a framework arrangement, Cotonou agreement through which the EDF is supports the development aspirations of partner countries meetings. The OACPS through the Committee of Ambassador is currently heavily involved in the post-cotonuo agreement has been in existence in the last 25 years.
The Ambassador added that the Mission represents Sierra Leone in other Sub-Committees to present the case for government and showcase the positive developmental strides of Sierra Leone so that the outside world will continue to be interested and committed in supporting the government’s agenda.
“We work on strengthening our relationships with multilateral organizations like UNESCO, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We do this through various exchanges and meetings to discuss and reflect on pertinent issues. These organizations support capacity building initiatives,” he said.
Acknowledging that it takes time to build relationships with companies, Ambassador Musa disclosed that the Embassy had got to a point where “we would have had major successful outcomes but we could not because of the COVID. We have facilitated business missions, tracked and shared funding opportunities. We were going to visit this December with 40 companies and I had written to the Ministry of Trade and Industry but had suspended the mission because of the pandemic. Hopefully when the situation improves, we will get it done”.
Explaining about the challenges faced in the economic diplomacy which the New Direction government is focused on, Ambassador Musa said there are several issues now at play including the COVID-19 pandemic which, he reminded, has seriously affected all the industries and businesses in Europe. ”A good number are focused on protecting their companies than expanding their operations to other countries”., he said.
The Ambassador opined that: “In this part of the world, many public and private institutions have strong ties with former colonial territories and for most of them those ties are not in English-speaking West Africa. For example, in Belgium, they have a fixed number of countries, mostly in French speaking Africa they work with as part of their aid effectiveness policy
“There are challenges with that and the only way to address that is to nurture relationships with the public and private sector authorities s to see the need to expand to other countries and clearly, this is happening now. For example, apart from their former territories, France has come up with a strategy to engage Africa and they want to go into the English-speaking countries,” he said.
Disclosing the role of the EU Delegation in Sierra Leone to the socio-economic development of the country, the Ambassador stated that “The EU, under the leadership of Tom Vens is doing quite a lot in Sierra Leone. And here in Brussels, through the Committee of Ambassadors, we engage the EU to discuss issues affecting our country and this goes to the EU Commission and Parliament. We are doing well”, he emphasized.
When questioned about the transition from NGO development sector to working for the government, the Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Brussels said:
“I am happy to be the representative of His Excellency, Brigadier (RTD) Dr Julius Maada Bio in the accredited countries and the EU. He has given me the opportunity to contribute to the difference he is making in the transformation of the country through his inclusive approach. We contributing to increasing the visibility and rebranding of the country, explaining the progress. I do feel his energy from here in Brussels. the New Direction government is making under his leadership” ... the Ambassador concluded.