Various projects have been designed by the government to provide job opportunities for young people as well as improve their livelihoods in riverine and coastal fishing communities, said President Ernest Bai Koroma this morning during the official launching of the Youth in Fishing project and the Revised National Youth Policy – 2014 at the Tambercular Wharf in Aberdeen.
The president recalled that, he established the Ministry of Youth Affairs with the mandate to give leadership and to inject a sense of urgency in addressing the challenges facing the youth.
He pointed out that government has taken several actions in this direction – revised the National Youth Policy, enacted the National Youth Commission Act, developed the Youth Development Programme, passed the National Youth Service Act (which will involve the country’s graduates in the development of the country), commenced the National Youth Village Project in Koinadugu district, and expanded Youth in Drainage Clearing Project among others.
The Revised National Youth Policy, according to President Koroma, would serve as the blueprint for the empowerment of young people in key strategic areas including Youth Sensitive Policy Analysis, Education and Skills Development, Agriculture, Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Technology and Innovation, Socio-economic Integration of Youth, Protection of the Environment, Sustainable Livelihoods and Youth Employment.
On the other hand, the Youth in Fishing Project is intended to make more fish available in local markets and at affordable cost. “That is why the project has constructed boats outfitted with 70 Horse power engines. These boats will be distributed across 70 fishing communities nationwide, targeting at least 1,000 youth. And this is just the first phase of a total of 200 Outboard Fishing Boats to be provided by mid 2017,” the president said amid rapturous applause.
He thanked the Alwaleed Foundation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for providing part of the funds for the project and assured of government’s commitment to continue to work with development partners and to implement development projects that will provide not just skills training but also job opportunities for young people.
President Koroma urged beneficiaries (of the first phase of the project) to make good use of the opportunity, to improve their lives and those of their families and create opportunities for others and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. “But you must also ensure sustainable fishing by using appropriate fishing nets,” he admonished.
The Minister of Youth Affairs Hon. Alimamy Kamara thanked President Koroma for his continued support to youth empowerment, noting that his ministry’s business is to implement youth empowerment projects.
He praised development partners for their support to his ministry and observed that not all young people are unserious. Hon. Kamara said the beneficiaries are going to be trained by Maritime Administration, and therefore entreated them to prove to the nation that they are now changed people.
Adviser on Youth Affairs in the Office of the Chief of Staff, Dr Sheku Gibril Kamara called on fishermen to make judicious use of the boats by managing them well and appealed for cooperation to move the project forward.
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Capt. Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe described the project as an example of inter-ministerial collaboration to provide the required technical support to the Ministry of Youth Affairs. He told beneficiaries of this first phase to work closely with their communities and urged them to refrain from using monofilament as it destroys the fishes.
Chairperson of the occasion, former Special Executive Assistant to President Koroma, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden recalled that President Koroma had pledged to support the youth of Sierra Leone since he was in opposition, and during the campaign trail, he also vowed to commit his government to youth empowerment which he has gone far in actualizing.