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Washington D.C.10th September 2012: An Open Skies Agreement was today signed at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C. between the Governments of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the United States of America. Signing on behalf of Sierra Leone was the, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Honourable Vandi Chidi Minah. (Photo: Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Vandi Chidi Minah and Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy & the Environment, Robert D Hormats)
Welcoming the delegation, the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Robert D. Hormats, lauded the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone in recent years, in developing the economy, democracy, and minimising corruption. These goals, he said, are reflected in international Human Development indices and recognized in Washington. These development strides, he observed, have resulted in a handful of American businesses launching operations in Sierra Leone, in the Tourism, Industries and Energy sectors.
He mentioned among others, the Joule Africa, which has invested $625 million in the hydro-electrical project to raise output from 50 to 380 megawatts by 2017. He described the Open Skies Agreement as a new step forward that will benefit the two countries in terms of free flow of passenger and cargo traffic, the promotion of trade and tourism, while at the same time discouraging government interference in the management of the airlines, and ticket-pricing. He was optimistic that the offshore oil and gas reserves could fetch an income of about $1.5 billion for the Sierra Leone economy in five years. He paid tribute to all those who have made the Open Skies dream possible.
Responding, Honourable Vandi Chidi Minah thanked his host for the warm welcome and extended his appreciation on behalf of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and People of Sierra Leone. He reiterated the importance of the agreement noting that it is in line with strategies for the transformation of Sierra Leone’s airport, and hotel services, the expansion of Sierra Leonean businesses to the US and above all, creating an enabling environment for US investment in Sierra Leone, which he said will lead to, among other things, more job opportunities.
At the ceremony were, H.E. Bockari Kortu Stevens, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the USA, First Secretary Saspo I. Sankoh, and Information Attaché Elizabeth Foray. Also present on the high level delegation from Sierra Leone were the Air Transport Regulations Manager Mr. Abu Bakarr Kamara, The Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Mr. Tommy T. Tengbeh and Chairman of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Victor E. O. Spaine.
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