On February 25, 2022, the Launching Ceremony of the China-aided Project of Rehabilitation of the Sierra Leone National Stadium was held in Freetown. H.E. Hu Zhangliang, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Honorable Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Francis Mustapha Kaikai, Honorable Minister of Sports Mr. Ibrahim Nyelenkeh and other distinguished ladies and gentlemen attended the ceremony.
Ambassador Hu said that H.E. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the development of China-Sierra Leone relations. He pointed out that the rehabilitation of the stadium is another milestone in the course of China-Sierra Leone cordial relationship and practical cooperation. Ambassador Hu averred that, after the rehabilitation, the stadium will be brand new and contribute immensely again to sports development in Sierra Leone. The Ambassador said that the Chinese side will as always demonstrate utmost sincerity to Sierra Leone while conducting cooperation, walk the talk, keep promise, let facts speak for themselves and prove herself to be a reliable friend instead of paying lip services or imposing her own will onto others.
Honorable Minister Kaikai extended sincere thanks to H.E. President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government and people on behalf of H.E. President Julius Maada Bio and the government and people of Sierra Leone. He said that China is a true friend and the past 50 years of Sierra Leone-China relationship is based on mutual respect, trust, unity of direction, development and promotion of common interest. He assured the Ambassador that the Sierra Leonean side will continue to work closely with the Chinese side to further promote the high quality friendly relations between the two countries.
Honorable Minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh and other dignitaries expressed their sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Chinese government and people for the great support to sports development in Sierra Leone. They looked forward to the hand over of the rehabilitated stadium after the agreed two years’ period.
Honorable Minister Kaikai and Ambassador Hu then jointly turned the sod to officially launch the Rehabilitation Project.
The National Stadium was built by China for Sierra Leone under the former’s government grant and put into use in 1979. The rehabilitation work will include the restoration, reinforcement and redecoration of the main stadium, the swimming pool and its ancillary facilities, the renovation of the athletes’ hostel, the construction of more than 1,200 square meters of new buildings and facilities, the renewal of drainage, power distribution, ventilation and air conditioning, the installation of a new display screen, artificial turf, synthetic rubber racing track and new lighting equipment, etc. The 572-square-meter ring road surrounding the stadium will also be refurbished.
By then, the stadium will be revitalized to one of the most modern and comprehensive stadiums in Africa, extending its service life by at least another 30 years and creating conditions for Sierra Leone to host sports events of international standards, including the Africa Cup of Nations in the future.