Sudipto Mukerjee: Statement at a Technical Taskforce Workshop on Integrated National Civil Register Project in Sierra Leone. Hill Valley Hotel, Freetown

Feb 20, 2014

Hon. Minister, my Friend Dr Max Sesay,  Dear Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen

A very good morning to all of you.  We are all gathered here today in what I believe might become the start of a historic beginning for a life changer initiative here in Salone.

Let me start by wishing you a warm round of Congratulations:

Congratulations for organising this workshop today, which marks the end of a very busy and extremely productive period.  Through this period, several of you have met several times, discussed, debated, analysed, and prepared a road map for the future of the National Civil Register Project for Sierra Leone.   To that end, I hope you will have fruitful discussions and secure agreement on the next steps, who does what with whom, how and when.

Second, many thanks to a number of you in this room. 

             Core government agencies i.e. National Registration Secretariat (NRS), National Elections Commisson (NEC), Birth and Death Office, National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) and many more, for integrated national civil register project

             Election Basket Fund (EBF) partners’ (DFID, EU and IrishAid) for their great contribution without whose support we would not be here today.

Let me also say a few words about the Project:

             Following the successful elections in 2012, UNDP has been engaging to assist this Civil Registration Project.  This build on the extremely successful voter registration and biometric data capture from the 2012 Parliamentary Elections.  

             During the Steering Committee Meeting of Electoral Assistance held last month, strong commitment were expressed by the Ministers of MIA and MOFED.

             I am also aware that H.E. the President Dr Ernest Bai Karoma is a champion for this initiative and recently in a meeting with the International Development Partners, he openly expressed his interest and support for the Civil Register Project.

             I have personally witnessed the build up of a great momentum both at political and technical level within the GOSL.  For me, personally, this is a very interesting period to be here in Sierra Leone as coming from India, I have seen how a similar project is being rolled out very successfully and in a big way.

Through you and your efforts, I wish also to address the people of Sierra Leone, as the success of the project will bring a lot of benefits to the people here.   With active and timely participation of the citizens of Sierra Leone, civil registration can improve the entire socio-political-economic-judicial systems of Sierra Leone such as access to public services, including child care, education, health services, social assistance benefits, disability and retirement pensions, voting, driver’s license, passport, bank account, employment, etc. In an extremely cost effective and meaningful way and let me repeat that this could be a LIFE CHANGER here in Salone.

While this marks the end of the beginning of a very important process, as a way forward, we must all commit ourselves in various ways.  I appeal to the international partners to remain engaged and support to bring this initiative to fruition.  To all of you, I am aware that technical taskforce meeting is held almost weekly.  Please keep up this momentum.  Finally, I take this opportunity to say a special word of personal gratitude to members of my team, Paul, Illuminate, Tomo, Frik,  Marla, Humayun Khan and Gloria for a great job well done – I am very proud of you. Thank you all very much.

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