Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saturday 11 November 2023 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has, in two separate developments, met His Excellency Dr Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, the Saudi Minister of Education and also engaged Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In his meeting with Dr Yousef Al-Benyan, President Bio paid tribute to the bilateral relations between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and expressed gratitude to the Government in Riyadh for supporting his country at all times.
His Excellency spoke about the gains made in Human Capital Development in his first mandate between 2018 and 2023. He disclosed that his government was now focused on consolidating those gains and empowering the youth with the relevant skills for the 21st-century industrial age.
Dr Yousef Al-Benyan expressed delight in meeting President Julius Maada Bio and spoke about Saudi’s educational sector and the upcoming Human Capital Development Summit in February 2024, extending a special invite to him and the government of Sierra Leone. The Saudi Education Minister also indicated his government’s willingness to support Sierra Leone in the areas of an Islamic college, e-learning, technical and vocational opportunities, foundational learning and research and development for increasing yield in agriculture.
In a separate meeting with Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio expressed gratitude to the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for the wonderful hospitality accorded him and his delegation during the Saudi-Africa Summit.
He noted that the meeting was geared toward deepening ties between the two countries. He reminded the Governor that many Sierra Leoneans had performed pilgrimages in the holy land of Mecca, adding that it was time to expand the ties beyond that to explore the wide range of economic opportunities.
The President talked about his country’s natural resource endowment, including over 5 million hectares of arable land and rich minerals and the strong indication of critical minerals like lithium and zircon. He said he was seeking credible partnerships for investment in the country’s agriculture sector, large-scale food production and investment across the value chain.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Timothy Musa Kabba, and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Musa Henry Kpaka, gave a synopsis of the mineral, oil and gas, and agriculture sectors in the resource-rich West African nation.
Governor Al-Rumayyan spoke about the PIF’s multi-dimensional investment structure and assured President Bio of their willingness to explore opportunities along the lines discussed.
The President responded by expressing his delight in the shared willingness and emphasised his government’s strong commitment to protecting foreign investment and addressing challenges.
Both sides agreed to exchange visits and develop a joint framework covering agriculture and extractives.
Present at the meeting were the Chief Minister, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, Minister Kabba, Minister Kpaka, Minister of Health, Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Trade Industry, Ibrahim Alpha Sesay, and Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr Ibrahim Jalloh