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Former British Prime Minister Calls for Increased Investment in Sierra Leone

In a visit this week-end to Sierra Leone, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for increased investment in the West African country and urged religious leaders to get involved in preventing malaria.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he came to Sierra Leone to follow up on his initiatives to help the country.

"This is all part of the initiative we have here in Sierra Leone working alongside the President and his team to support them in their work in their priorities," said Blair. "Some of those priorities have to do with health care some to do with agriculture and energy, and of course investments and business.  We want more businesses to come into Sierra Leone to base themselves here to create jobs to create health for the people because we need to get the living standards of the country lifted.”

Former British Prime Minister Calls for Increased Investment in Sierra Leone
Former British Prime Minister Calls for Increased Investment in Sierra Leone

Mr Blair told investors the time is right to explore Africa.

My message is come and invest," said the former prime minister, "but to do so in a good way in a way that would help us with the development of the country. Iinvestment has got to be open and transparent and proper. Tthere are fantastic opportunities here. This is part of what’s happening in Africa more generally today. You know you see this in everywhere in Africa right now there is a buzz about it and an energy and we got to convert that into practical business and jobs and development.”

The former British Prime Minister said he is also looking at ways the religious community can join in the fight against malaria.

“My other charitable foundation is about the religious interfaith [community]. What we’re doing is meeting the representatives of the Christian and Muslim communities. This is part of a project where we fight malaria by mobilizing the resources and the infrastructure of the faith community so that people know how to tackle malaria, how to use the bed nets that are made available to them, how to take the right drugs how to seek the most appropriate treatment."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urges religious leaders to get involved in the fight against malaria.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urges religious leaders to get involved in the fight against malaria.

He says his Africa Governance Initiative is training what he calls "faith ambassadors" who trainmembers of their congregations to help teach 20 families how to prevent malaria.

"So the idea," he said, "is you spread this out, and we hope to reach somewhere in the region of 70,000 families [by doing this] and if it works then we can start expanding this in different parts of Africa.”

Mr Blair was also questioned about the recent bombings in Abuja, Nigeria. He said Mr Blair extremism is an issue that must be addressed.

“Well I was in Abuja a couple of days ago myself," he said. "I am very sorry for the people there and extend my sympathy to the country and to the people affected.  I am afraid this extremism is here in many parts of the world, and we’ve got to face up to it and we’ve got to deal with it."

Before leaving Sierra Leone, Mr Blair visited a nearly 4 million dollar juice factory in the country’s first special economic zone near Freetown.

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