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Interview: China-Africa economic and trade relations forum “an opportunity that can make mountains and rivers to join,” Sierra Leone Deputy Ambassador

Updated: November 16, 2023 Source: Belt and Road Portal
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The 2023 China (Zhejiang) Forum on China-Africa Economic and Trade Relations and China-Africa Cultural Cooperation and Exchange Month is “an opportunity that can make mountains and rivers to join,” commented Saffa-Woya Rogers, deputy ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone to China.


The Sierra Leonian diplomat, who attended the event for the first time in Jinhua city, east China’s Zhejiang province, told Xinhua that he hopes the city of Jinhua and Sierra Leone would be “partners with a shared future.”

Rogers said he was “learning from all the good examples and seeing all the good exchanges” in terms of business and trade between Jinhua and other African countries at the forum, and expected to “seek areas of tangible cooperation” with Jinhua as well.

Calling himself “a product of that good relationship (between China and Sierra Leone),” Rogers looked back on his experiences of studying in China – came to China for the first time in 1997, doing his Master’s and part of PhD studies in Peking University.

He told Xinhua in Chinese that he speaks Chinese and hopes the relationship of the two countries will get better.

The deputy ambassador believed that education and infrastructure are the two areas of cooperation in which China and Sierra Leone have made the greatest progress.


“When I came (to China) in 1997 to study, the students on scholarship were like 37 in total, and it came at a time that they did replacement – were there five students graduated, they would replace (with another) five,” recalled Roger.

Nowadays, there are nearly 1,000 Sierra Leonian students with scholarships offered by China Scholarship Council and the Ministry of Commerce, according to the diplomat. 

“We’ve got a lot of private students here self-sponsored, and we have all the schemes of scholarship, like the Confucius Institute,” he said.

In the University of Sierra Leone, the Confucius Institute was established in 2012, and Chinese language, people and business have been “extended to Sierra Leone,” said Rogers.

In terms of infrastructures, Chinese companies have helped build hospitals, government buildings, a national stadium, academic institutes, and roads in the west African country.

“You look at the main office building which houses up to eight or nine ministries of our government, it’s called Youyi (meaning friendship) Building,” the deputy ambassador gave an example.

He stressed the importance of reciprocity, saying Sierra Leone has given a lot in supporting China at bilateral and multilateral levels.

Sierra Leone jointed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018 by inking the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China on jointly developing the Belt and Road during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

The leaders of the two countries “with a common vision of shared future sat together and signed this gracious all-important cooperation,” described Rogers.

It is no doubt that the two people, the two governments could continue to have each other’s back, continue to stand shoulder by shoulder, and look at opportunities that could benefit each other, he added.  (Contributed by Xinhua writer Luo Jingjing)

Editor: Yang Yifan