The Presidential Elections of August 2007, declared the All People’s Congress party’s flag bearer, Ernest Bai Koroma as winner and the new President of Sierra Leone. He came in with a mandate for the next five years dubbed as the Agenda for Change, identifying six broad priority areas as the primary focus for his government to work on. Focusing on the areas of energy, infrastructure, youth employment, growth sector, social services and capacity development.
The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma encouraged Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to return home and serve the country or contribute from afar, as clearly stated in his maiden speech to Parliament. Inspired by this clarion call, individuals representing various Diaspora groups met with the President on Friday October 12 2007 and introduced an initiative entitled "Engaging the Diaspora for a New Sierra Leone"
The aim of this initiative was to lay the foundation for a productive and mutually beneficial partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Diaspora. This was a historic moment in Sierra Leone and a clear indication of the President's commitment to engage the Diaspora in national Development.
As a result of the meeting and the President’s vision to engage the Sierra Leonean Diaspora towards National Development, the Office of Diaspora Affairs was created to serve under the Office of the President in September 2008.
The Office of Diaspora Affairs has many objectives and areas of focus; however its key priority is to work with the government to address critical capacity gaps in the public sector by bringing diaspora professionals and experts to deliver results in specific areas.
The project is a direct outcome of the loss of professionals in various technical and managerial fields due to the decade-long conflict experienced in the country. It is estimated that approximately 30% of the educated nationals left and more than half a million Sierra Leoneans live in the US and UK alone. The war also forced thousands of Sierra Leoneans to take refuge in other Mano River Union States. Thus through what is commonly referred to as 'brain drain', Sierra Leone has lost a large number of its best trained, most educated and skilled nationals depriving the country of its doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, managers and administrators it needs to break the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment. Such losses hamper ongoing efforts to reach the targets of the new government as well as the Millennium Development Goals - despite considerable investments and support by donor countries.
Although this is a new government initiative, the Office of Diaspora Affairs is working towards becoming a one stop resource center for Diasporas. It will serve as a bridge linking Sierra Leoneans from the Diaspora to different businesses and opportunities, Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the country.
The Office of Diaspora Affairs is situated on the ground floor of the Office of Public Sector Reform Unit, 8 Wesley Street, Freetown- Sierra Leone.