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China Daily Website

'Someone that understands us'

Updated: 2013-04-26 11:12
By Zhao Yanrong ( China Daily)

Joblessness is a huge problem in Sierra Leone. The World Bank has put youth unemployment at about 60 percent. While Multi-Kamara was in China he visited a vocational school in Henan province and was shown how young people are trained.

Sierra Leone's education system focuses on high-end and elite education, something inherited from Britain, he says, but the country needs skilled tradespeople. He suggests more exchange programs on practical skills training between China and Sierra Leone.

"We have a lot of students majoring in medicine, engineering, and environmental management. But there are not so many administrative jobs for them. On the other hand, we are short of industrial workers, which is crucial to our economic development.

"We also encourage our students in China to learn about a much wider range of issues, such as the Chinese work ethic and discipline."

Exchanges in education and culture are just as important as the countries working closely together in business, he says.

Last year, the first Confucius Institute was set up in Sierra Leone, with backing from Gannan Normal University in Jiangxi province and Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, said to be the oldest university in West Africa.

"Both young and old people from Sierra Leone have fallen in love with Chinese culture, and the institute is an eye-opener to many Sierra Leoneans," Multi-Kamara says. "The institute has indeed proven to be a powerful means of bridging the gap between people from different cultures and facilitating friendship among countries and people."

It is not just about drawing the two countries' people closer, but about Sierra Leoneans learning from Chinese culture and philosophy, which has been important in China's growth, he says.

Chinese development is ceaseless because it is based on confidence and a clear direction, he says.

"Many African countries have a colonial past, and it is not easy for us to set up a philosophy that comes from our own culture. That's an important thing we should learn from China."

In business, Multi-Kamara says he is confident about relations between the two countries.

Sierra Leone relies on agriculture and mining. Its primary mineral resources are diamonds, rutile, bauxite, gold, iron ore and limonite. Multi-Kamar says most Western countries have moved up the value chain, and the BRICS countries are the major mineral resources buyers in the world market at the moment.

Last year, Shandong Steel Company invested $2.5 billion in Sierra Leone's iron ore mines, and this year the Chinese government has given about $30 million as a contribution to reconstruction of a country that has been blighted by civil war and political instability.

Multi-Kamara says Chinese companies have invested in Sierra Leone with respect to "our internal affairs".

To those who see Chinese investment in Africa as a new form of colonialism, he says that it suits the development needs of most countries in the continent, being focused on businesses working together rather than looking for any political quid pro quo.

"For any government, the best guarantee for people's security is not the capacity of policing and military power. It's the ability to provide the basic needs to their people. China has the experience of dealing with property on a very large scale."

That, he says, is the biggest lesson that China can teach Africa.

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