Amin Kef Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 April 2021:
In a bid for the city of Freetown and Kanifing municipality of the Gambia to explore avenues to formalize and strengthen ties with each other, the Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr last Friday 9th April 2021 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lord Mayor of Kanifing Municipality, Ahmed Talib Bensouda.
The signing ceremony took place at the Freetown City Hall in Freetown after four days of in-depth discussions of various issues of common interest to the Mayors.
It could be recalled that the Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr on the 5th April 2021 welcomed the Lord Mayor of Kanifing Municipality, Ahmed Talib Bensouda and his delegation to Freetown on a week-long visit which provided opportunities for the team from Kanifing Municipality to see #TransformFreetown at work and experience Freetown as well as share their achievements and challenges.
In her address, Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said that the historical and cultural connection between the two countries is a strong basis for working together, adding that there are real opportunities for exchange between the two cities.
She noted that at the Freetown City Council, the Transform Freetown priorities are grouped within four clusters – Resilience, Human Development, Healthy Cities and Urban Mobility which she said have over the years taken a global proportion.
In identifying the six areas of collaboration with the city of Kanifing, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr revealed that these include affordable housing, climate change, market infrastructure, public transportation, revenue mobilization and waste management, adding that they are going to be mutually shared between the two countries.
She said that they are excited to share the work they have done and to look across Kanifing in order to see the kind of work they have been doing so as to adopt approaches which are good.
The Mayor of Freetown also pointed out that the collaboration is in two ways; the learning of experiences being shared between the two cities. “When you see your city in the eyes of another city leader you actually learn more,” she said.
“It has been a pleasure to have you here and we look forward to seeing this relationship flourish in the not too distant future on the concrete actions that we take in the areas of our collaboration,” she concluded.
Delivering his statement, the Mayor of Kanifing Municipality, Ahmed Talib Bensouda expressed appreciation to the Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr and team for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
He noted that Kanifing Municipality is the largest municipality in The Gambia which happens to be the heartbeat of that nation.
Ahmed Talib Bensouda said it has been a fantastic week-long visit to Freetown, saying during his visit they visited various places which has provided insights for the team from Kanifing Municipality to see #TransformFreetown at work in addition to other experiences gained of which he used the opportunity to commend the Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr and the entire team at the Freetown City Council for their laudable venture in transforming Freetown.
He said his visit has provided the opportunity to have in-depth discussions on various matters of common interests to the cities, furthering that the signing of the MOU between two cities will definitely contribute towards the development of the two nations.
On April 6, 2021, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr was honored by the Penn Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania, for her work in guiding Freetown towards a more sustainable and vibrant future. She was awarded for the #TransformFreetown initiative alongside Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol (England) during the 16th annual Urban Leadership Forum entitled “Mayoral Leadership in Challenging Times.”
The award ceremony was done virtually, and Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was joined by Mayor Talib Bensouda of Kanifing.