Sierra Leone and China are strengthening their diplomatic and economic ties, as President Ernest Bai Koroma continues his visit to Beijing this week.
The Xinhua news agency reports that Koroma, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, engaged in talks Thursday that led to agreements on support for Sierra Leone’s public health system, food security and agriculture, and economy.
“China encourages domestic enterprises and financial institutions to actively engage in infrastructure building and mining in Sierra Leone for mutually beneficial cooperation,” Xi told reporters.
Both sides agreed to draw on the plans advanced during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Johannesburg in 2015. At the summit, China announced major investment plans for China-Africa cooperation over three years, backed by a USD $60 million pledge.
Koroma thanked Xi for China’s assistance during the Ebola crisis in 2014, a major driver for China’s decision to begin joint medical research initiatives with Sierra Leone and commit to better disease prevention and control.
Xi also said China will work with Sierra Leone on climate initiatives and security concerns.
Koroma will continue his visit through December 6, the same day that President Ali Bongo of Gabon is expected to arrive in Beijing for a three-day state visit.
China continues to advance its influence across the African continent, and Xi plans to host a large “One Belt, One Road” summit in China next year. The initiative includes 65 countries across southern Asia and into the Middle East, and spreads into eastern Europe and the African continent.
Image: Government of Sierra Leone