Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Commissions 70 Boats to Support 1,400 Youths in Seven Fishing Coastal Communities

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has handed over 70 fishing boats to support 1,400 youths who live in 40 communities across the 7 coastal districts of Western Area Rural and Urban, Port Loko, Bonthe, Moyamba, Pujehun and Kambia.

Giving an overview, Project Manager of the Youth in Fisheries Project, Joseph Lahai, said that the initiative established by government was to help reduce unemployment, promote self-reliance, economic diversification, nutritional upgrade and empower the youths in the rural communities to discourage youth migration.

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura, said he was pleased to be part of the handing over of the newly constructed fishing boats and its accessories. He added that the project was to empower and capacitate young people under the cluster of the Medium-Term Development Plan that sought to address issues of unemployment while also ensuring that the youth were self-reliant enough to contribute positively to the socioeconomic development of their communities.

“His Excellency, we appreciate your leadership, mentorship and the political will you have shown to help change the narrative around youths in the country. We appreciate the fact that you loathe corruption and love transparency and accountability,” the youth minister said on behalf of the beneficiary youth groups.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Patricia Nyanga Laverley, said that the Youth in Fisheries Project was a presidential initiative established to support the government’s agenda as a means of reducing the unemployment rate in the youth sector and to promoting self-reliance.

“The project will adopt a revolving loan scheme to recover costs, fishing ponds and boats. Its accessories will be given out to youth groups with a clear understanding of repaying the loan to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, in a separate account distinct from the operational account. The revolving loan scheme will ensure that youth groups pay back the loans on a quarterly and monthly basis, as an agreed percentage of their quarterly and monthly earnings to the Ministry,” she said.

Before his formal handing over, President Julius Maada said they did not just distribute boats and walk away as some people had done in the past, but as part of his government’s commitment to Human Capital Development, the Project Implementation Unit in the Ministry of Youth Affairs had already started training fishing youth groups nationwide in entrepreneurship around fishing, sea safety, minor repairs to outboard engines, national fisheries laws of the sea, and the use of ultra-modern fishing accessories.