By Donald Theo Harding
Over Two thousand five hundred youths, between the ages of 15 and thirty-five years, are poised to be gainfully and permanently employed in Sierra Leone. This was revealed by the European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone Tom Vens on Thursday 16th February 2021 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen.
The Ambassador was launching the fourth phase of the Employment Promotion Programme (EPP IV) which is being supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, co-financed by the European Union. The main partner in the national level is the Ministry of Planning and Economic development. The fourth phase of EPP is aiming to sustainably improve the employment and income situation of youth in agriculture and in micro-, small-, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Tom Vens expressed gratification that the EU was partnering with the government of Sierra Leone to see that jobs are created across the country.
He conceded that human capital development is fundamental for promoting economic growth and sustainable development. “Making a decent living is a challenge, especially in Sierra Leone. This has become clear when one looks at the realities:
He said that the EU has therefore launched, together with the government of Sierra Leone, the EUR 60million jobs and Growth Programme to address the challenges of improving human capital, providing access to viable financing and creating decent jobs. He went ahead and took the opportunity to announce that they will soon launch a call for Proposal to support entrepreneurs and Start-Ups in advancing innovation and technology in the agricultural sector like innovative access to finance, renewable energy and digitalization.
In his remarks, Dr. Francis Kaikai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, thanked the German government and the EU for co-hosting the programme. He reiterated the Sierra Leone/German cooperation dating back 1960. He revealed that he himself is a product of Germany’s support to Sierra Leone. He maintained that the Bio led government and the people of Sierra Leone are forever grateful for the support of Germany and the EU to Sierra Leone. The EPP (IV), he noted are at the heart of the government and if there was anything that rivals it would be that of gender issues.
EPP fields of action includes skills and development, TVET and dual studies, Agricultural value chain development, private sector – Business Loop (B-Loop) and private sector –Facility for Growth (F4G).
Other speakers including the German Ambassador to Sierra Leone Horst Gruner, the Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Hinga Sandy, the Minister of Youth Affairs Mohamed O Bangura and Dr. Victor Massaquoi among others gave meaningful contributions and addressed some concerns from the press and other CSOs.
To Upskill youths in the tourism sector.