32-year-old Salima Bah becomes the youngest cabinet minister in Sierra Leone’s history

Salima Monorma Bah

Salima Monorma Bah, 32, has made history in Sierra Leone, becoming the country’s youngest cabinet minister ever.

She is appointed as the country’s first Minister of Communication, Technology and Innovation. Responding to the news, Salima took to Twitter to express her utmost gratitude to serve the country. She is excited to work with the government and “contribute to the government’s national development agenda”.

Who is Salima Monorma Bah?

Salima is one of the brightest minds from Sierra Leone. She has served in numerous leadership roles prior to her recent feat. She holds an LLB (Hons) Degree from The University of Wales (Holborn College) and LLM from Columbia Law School. She is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone. She is also a Burton Memorial Fellow.

She is also an active member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association and serves as an executive member of LAWYERS a nonprofit organization of female lawyers established for defending the rights of women and children.

Before now, during her stint at the Ministry of Justice, Salima worked as a State Counsel assigned to Sierra Leone’s first-ever Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), and a member of the DSTI Policy Team which is tasked with proferring legal advice and opinions.

Salima had previously worked for the Prosecution Division of the Law Officers Depart, Ministry of Justice. She is well-experienced in matters relating to prosecuting criminal matters and proffering legal opinions on Police Cases and Enquiry Files submitted for review.

The youngest cabinet

Amid economic hardship and political divide in the country, this is the youngest cabinet the country has ever seen since Independence.

President Julius Maada Bio, who is serving the country for the second term after a landslide victory in the June 24 Presidential Election, defeating his closest rival Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, has given more leadership roles to young people than any other president in the history of Sierra Leone.

In his new cabinet, the country’s youngest, most popular and most liked minister, Dr David Sengeh, who served as the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education during the first five years of President Bio’s two terms, has been given a new role – Chief Minister. He replaced JJ Saffa who was the former Minister of Finance.

Another shake-up in the President’s new cabinet is the appointment of Timothy Musa Kabba, a young astute leader, who now serves as the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Dr David Francis.

Not too young to lead and why it matters

60% (600 million plus) of the continent’s entire population is aged below 25, making Africa the youngest continent in the world. In context, all of the world’s top ten youngest countries by median age can be found in Africa. Albeit this number, just a fraction of young people in Africa are given the opportunity to serve and lead in government roles.

In Chile, 36 years old Gabriel Boric is the president. In Finland, 37 years old Sanna Marin is the Prime Minister. In Montenegro, 37 years old Dritan Abazović is the Prime Minister. Unlike Africa, where 90 years old Paul Biya has been the president since 1982; where 81 years old Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the president since 1979.

Countries like Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, and now Sierra Leone are changing the narrative. They are now seeing more young people in government than ever before.

It is important to give young people in Africa the opportunity to serve and lead in important roles in government as they bring fresh ideas, creativity, and technological literacy that can contribute to addressing complex challenges faced by the continent, such as sustainable development, job creation, and social progress, and are more likely to prioritize long-term sustainable development goals, as they have a vested interest in shaping a better future for themselves, their peers, and future generations.

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