By PEL Koroma,Embassy of Sierra Leone,Washington, DC
As a conduit for job creation and development, the Minister of Tourism and Culture Dr. Memunatu Pratt has engaged United States Africa Development Foundation President and CEO Travis Adkins in Washington DC, requesting to work together to change the face of poverty in Africa.
“There is shortfall of skills and entrepreneurship, and it is important to get the youths and women engaged. Sierra Leone has a checkered political history but we have gone through post peace building program. Rehabilitation of young people is key. We need to provide social alternatives, and social capital development is now the way forward. I want you to partner with my Ministry so that we can creat job opportunities for the youths, and enhance women”, Dr Pratt said.
Dr. Pratt further noted that Sierra Leone has huge potential in Tourism and Culture. She intimated that the country has a very rich culture, beautiful Islands, monuments, eco- -tourism, wildlife and hospitality sector where Sierra Leoneans are owning businesses.
“We want to use the diverse culture in the country to promote peace. Cultural diplomacy enhances peace and security. The United States Africa Development Foundation has a way of working with tourism to catch up with the young energy and promote agro-tourism and food security opportunities especially for women”, Dr. Pratt said, emphasizing that the young people should be engaged, trained, and exposed so that they would be able to engage the international market.
President and CEO of USADF Travis Adkins welcomed Dr. Pratt to USADF, stating that women and youths are their focus.
“Agriculture, food security, renewable energy, and entrepreneurship are the major components of USADF. Partnership with the Ministry of Tourism of Sierra Leone will impact broadly. We are currently working in 28 countries in Africa. The enterprises are owned by Africans themselves. USADF invests in what people have already initiated for themselves. We are interested in training, job creation, and ensuring that women generate their own resources “, Travis Adkins said, adding that USADF supports co- created and co- funded projects.
According to Dr. Memunatu Pratt, there is need to grow the youths in entrepreneurship, entertainment industry and film production. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture has counterpart funding from the government of Sierra Leone, and World Bank on social development. She said UNDP is in partnership with the Tourism sector, training youths in coastal communities, women in Arts and Craft, and socio- economic entrepreneurship program. She further said that the hospitality sector is absorbing the youths, while boot camps, beach light, and start up kits for women to get into businesses is ongoing in the country . “We are putting the youths at the center of cultural diplomacy with the intent of moving their minds away from violence”.
Travis Adkins impressed on Dr. Pratt that the technical team at USADF and the Ministry of Tourism should start discussions hinging on how USADF and the Tourism Ministry of Sierra Leone can put plans together on funding areas of interest to USADF.
“We will be happy to follow up. We want to expand on what you do”, Travis Adkins concluded.