A past teacher recounted the memories of Peter as a student of the National Youth Service who made a passionate and enlightening contribution in an exhibition against Apartheid. Peter has little idea that this little-known exhibition would be the start of his own personal struggle against the abhorrent system. As the Chairperson of the “Afro Caribbean Society”, one of the most popular student associations on University of East Anglia campus between 1988 and 1990, Peter headed a number the Anti-Apartheid campaigns and galvanised student’s support for sanctions to be imposed on South Africa as well as for the freedom of the legendary Nelson Mandela.
So it was with tears of joy that Peter watched Nelson Mandela walk out of jail on that faithful day in 1990.Peter had no idea that he would later have the privilege of being the first Seychelles High Commissioner to South Africa and have the pleasure to visit Nelson Mandela at his office, together with his wife Indra and daughter Guyanne. The opportunity was one the Peter will always treasure.
Peter felt welcomed and amongst family in South Africa and in all the 14 ‘Southern African Development Corporation’ (SADC) member countries as well as the ‘Common Market for Eastern and Southern African’ (COMESA) regional member countries. His move to Tunis as Alternate Executive Director & later Executive Director for 7 eastern African Constituency countries enabled him to further cover other countries of the continent including the ones he represented. AfDb also took him to other non-regional (non-African) member countries of the Bank.
Peter settled with his family in Tunis, from June 2004,as alternate-cum-senior advisor to the Executive Director to the Eastern African Constituency of African Development Bank (AfDB)’s Board of Directors. In 2007 Peter assumed the post of Executive Director until the end of his contract in May 2010.
As an Executive Director of the biggest financial institution in Africa, Peter had a vantage view of the dynamics of development in Africa, more precisely his constituency of East Africa, which included Seychelles. Ironically, the son of someone who went to work in East Africa in search of greener pastures that his birth place could offer, would many years play a critical role in boosting the economic development of the same region which once offered brighter prospects to his parents. Serving East Africa was a selfless and passionate show of gratitude which was appreciated by the constituency staff from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania and Uganda.
In Tunisia, Peter garnered ample knowledge in practical institutional socio-economic and political management of many economies and their development partners. Peter’s time at the AfDB was invaluable for his subsequent Ministerial posting at the head of the Ministry of Investments, Natural Resources and Industries, upon his return home from Tunis in 2010. Indeed, his work at the AfDB, which saw Seychelles move out of sanctions, was a criterion that weighed heavily in the decision of President James Michel to name him as a member of his cabinet upon his return in 2010. Justifying his decision to name the new minister, President Michel referred to his “exceptional work at AfDB”.
Peter’s ministerial portfolios were challenging, especially in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. His pursuit for serious and capable investors was vigorous yet it was the distraught farmers and disgruntled fishers, facing an open market, competitive imported substitutes and a lack of funds and infrastructure, that preoccupied most of Peter’s time. By the time he stepped down from his Ministerial responsibilities in 2014, Peter had achieved many milestones; such as the re-establishment of relations and cooperation with the International Food and Agricultural Development institution (IFAD), the securing of a concessional loan of US$ 3 million for the CLISSA project, reinvigorate cooperation with FAO, secured a US$ 1 million worth of technical assistance from AfDB to formulate the Seychelles National Agricultural Investment Programme (SNAIP), implement insurance cover for farmers and artisanal fishers in an era of more natural and unpredictable weather, and the rehabilitation of the Soil Diagnostic Laboratory amongst others.
In the fisheries sector Peter’s most significant achievement has been the renewed focus on developing deep-water port capabilities at Port Victoria’s Zone 14 and push for more value-addition than the existing tinned-tuna industry. A 125+ meter and 425 meter quays were built on both side of Zone 14 during his tenure. Development of Zone 14 through the reinvigorated Fisheries Project Development Committee (FPDC) took off and despite various obstacles the Zone has been almost fully allocated to prospective investors for various development projects most of which are for further value-addition of Tuna.
One project of great benefit to Seychelles, for which Peter played a critical role, was the installation of the country’s fibre optic cable. In order to join the information super-highway through broadband internet connection, Minister Sinon helped secure an AfDB grant financing to partly finance a feasibility study for the project. One source inside the Ministry of Information Technology explained that ‘the Seychellois people have Minister Sinon to thank for getting the country onto the information highway’.Back home after his six years spell at the AfDB – Peter finds himself back at the People’s House as the Deputy Secretary General in the headquarters of the political party of his late mum and dad. With new and emerging cohabitation politics – the struggle to safeguard the gains of a long struggle is now his main preoccupation.