By The Communications Officer ODA
Freetown - The Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) has organised a meeting at StateHouse on Thursday 31st January in a bid to revitalize the relationship with the Sierra Leonean diaspora.
The meeting was fully attended by diaspora both returnees and visiting.
Addressing the meeting, the chairman of the occasion, Agibu Jalloh, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs gave an overview of the office and the essence of hosting the diaspora.
Abibatu Koroma, the Communications Officer, ODA noted that there has been a lacuna in communicating with the diaspora due to internet and other logistical problems.
She said that the meeting will be a sequel to series of meetings that the office will be organizing to address concerns of the diaspora.
Ms Koroma maintained that "this year is a year of difference as it will be a good opportunity to revitalize the relationship and network with the diaspora.
She highlighted key achievements that her office has accomplished including recruiting 25 experts that have filled critical skills gaps at various MDA's; a talent data base which has been established to get information from diaspora and a consultative policy framework for engaging the diaspora.
A transformation plan and diaspora engagement strategy has been established together with relevant stakeholders on the way forward. A training on data collection and analysis best practices has also been concluded in order to strengthen the capacity of staff.
The ODA has also completed consultancy on factoring diaspora skilled health officers to come home and contribute in the health sector in country.
She maintained that the ODA is on the verge of engaging the Government of Sierra Leone to fully implement the Transformation plan and engagement strategy recommendations.
The Acting Director, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh welcomed everyone and expressed satisfaction on the attendance at such a short notice which demonstrates the diaspora's acknowledgement for the office as theirs.
He spoke on the necessity to be conducting such meetings as a means of addressing their concerns and to be updated with ODA's activities. He revealed that the office will be attaching personnel to be stationed at Lungi International Airport to give information on the office.
The Acting Director also referenced the duty waiver concession of 20ft container including a car and personal effects given to diaspora who are returnees and want to contribute towards nation building by His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma as a means of helping them get a soft landing.
He affirmed the office's commitment to provide guidance on investment interests and private sector development.
The Acting Director said the office should be a 'one stop center for all diaspora'. He encouraged all to be in touch with the office on a regular basis and said there will be several of such meetings to address issues pertaining to them.