Sierra Leone delegation visits Vicksburg, talks to mayor about port

Published 2:24 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. played host Thursday to a delegation from the West African country of Sierra Leone and the Free Republic of Liberland that came to discuss the proposed Port of Vicksburg Expansion.

“They were very much interested in its location and its proximity to New Orleans,” Flaggs said. “It went real well.”

The mayor posted information about the visit on his Facebook page.

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He said the delegation was en route from the Jackson airport when a representative for the group called to set the meeting.

“They got off the plane, got into the rental cars and came straight to me,” he said. “I was just so excited that they were there (Jackson) and that they would come to Vicksburg.”

“This was an unexpected visit,” Flaggs said Friday. “They called me yesterday morning at about 8:30 and asked if I would meet with the delegation.”

Flaggs said in his post the delegation included Waleed Shamsid-Deen, ambassador for the Government of Sierra Leone’s Office of Special Envoy Trade and Investment, and Dame Mbaye, companies administrator and general counsel for the Free Republic of Liberland, a small country in Southeast Europe between Croatia and Serbia. He said the group invited him to go on a trade mission to Africa.

Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Pablo Diaz said the delegation from Africa is not the first international group asking about the port, pointing out economic development officials have been receiving inquiries from international companies but declined to name any specific companies citing confidentiality agreements.

“There’s interest because people have seen the reports (about the port),” he said. “I think there’s momentum behind the project and so people in the industries are asking questions.”

Flaggs said the delegation will return in May and meet with Diaz and Kelle Barfield and Dr. Jeff Holland, the president and vice president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, respectfully.

“I thought Pablo would be the one to give them all the details and everything and not me; I just gave them an overall assessment and that we have been going to Washington, D.C., and would be going to Washington, D.C., trying to get money for the port,” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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