The topic here is now "Poverty Alleviation in Unique Envirnoments." Ernest Bai Koroma is discussing what's being done in the unique environment where he is President, the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Energy is key. Developing its own power, increasing output, attracting investors, but Karoma moves quickly on to agricultre. "We have zeroed in on increasing agriculture productivity." Seventy per cent of the people of Sierra Leone are involved in agriculture but because of the subsistence level of most of the farming, most of these people are among the sixty percent of the population living below the poverty level.
Karoma came to office in a dramatic and suspenseful election. Introducing him, President Clinton said that Tony Blair played a significant role in the making sure the election came out fair and square and democracy triumphed. This BBC story doesn't mention Blair's role. So I've got some homework.
Blair isn't helping. He's talking now but he's not talking about that. He's discussing the role of First World nations and charitable organizations in the the development and modernization of Sierra Leone and other African nations. "The objective is to wave good-bye to the donor community," he says, actually waving goodbye with both his hands. "The purpose is not to engage in a perpetual act of charity."
Julia of Campaign Silo, who is blogging next to me, asks me if Blair "looks broken"? I'm not sure. He sounds nervous. His manner is tentative and his speech proceeds it fits and starts like a balky webcast feed.
The moderator reminds him that his wife wants the group to talk about the particular problems of women in poverty-stricken areas.
Karoma has already talked about the problem of "the girl child" in Sierra Leone where they are trying "to increase the girl childs who proceed from elementary to secondary level." The greatest difficulty in addressing this problem is the number of teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
This is the kind of news that makes me feel like an uneducated dope.
All those girl childs pregnant before they enter high school?
All those girl childs married just out of grade school?
This is the way life is on the second largest continent and here I sit eating my catered lunch, surprised.