Chief Minister’s Christmas Message 2023

The 2023 festive period is upon us, and I am privileged once again to be given the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. For me, Christmas is about celebrating what has been achieved in the year closing, a time for reflection, a time to look forward and plan for the New Year ahead, but more pertinent, a time to make an exerted effort to spend quality time with family and friends.

I am sure it is the desire of everyone for Christmas to be a joyous occasion. A time for togetherness, love and happiness. Although this is our hope, it is not always the case. I therefore wish to acknowledge those that are lonely, sad, heartbroken or indeed poorly this Christmas, as I know only too well how Christmas can be a challenge, when we are separated from loved ones by distance or loss. To those of you on this journey, always know there are those who care and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

The festive season on St Helena is unique, extra special. During this time of year, you will experience St Helena’s hospitality, St Helena’s community spirit and of course St Helena’s team spirit. It is indeed magical and reflects the true meaning of Christmas. Events will unfold that will catch your eye and capture your heart. Our primary school nativity plays signify the beginning of the holiday season for me, followed by their Christmas parades and their readiness to bring tidings of good cheer to those in our care facilities. This year, Prince Andrew School also brought the entertainment, when they showcased their gifts in their Talent Show production, which attracted an enthusiastic audience.

In addition to our schools, I wish to pay tribute to our private sector organisations, NGOs, charitable
organisations and volunteers who are all busy, providing much needed products and services that
contributes to achieving a successful and compassionate festive period. Furthermore, it is important
that I also acknowledge those that will be caring for our vulnerable in society, for those that go the
extra mile to ensure that we remain an inclusive society where we can all experience the true
meaning of Christmas. A time of love, hope and joy.

With the end of 2023 drawing nigh, I would describe it as another eventful year for this Government.
We have experienced challenges, but we have made progress and succeeded in fulfilling a number of
strategic objectives, some of which include:

  • Mission Blue officially recognized St Helena’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) as a Hope Spot;
  • We have successfully launched new health promotions and screening initiatives;
  • We were successful in securing and procuring £1.8m worth of essential equipment from the
    FCDO Oversea’s Territories Programme, which will assist us in critical areas to include
    healthcare, emergency services, port operations, road maintenance and airport;
  • St Helena and our UK-based marketing and communications agency won a second industryleading marketing award for Jonathan’s 190th Birthday activities that took place in December
    2022;
  • Repairs and renovations are on the way on Field Road following the successful completion of
    Side Path Road;
  • 14th October 2023, marked six years since the commencement of flights to the island and
    just over a year since resumption of regular services following the COVID-19 pandemic. We
    are also enjoying the recommencement of two flights per week during our peak season;
  • A Renewable Energy Policy was adopted and implementation has begun.
  • We have successfully negotiated a new contract for overseas medical referrals, which is
    demonstrating significant benefits;
  • New Joint Declaration agreed by UK Government and elected leaders of British Overseas
    Territories, which sees us commit to a new, collaborative and ‘modern partnership’ that
    includes plans to deepen bilateral partnerships, enhance transparency and support;
  • We have entered into an agreement with MACS Maritime Carriers Shipping to provide
    freight services to the island for an initial five year term, with the option for a further five
    years, via a dedicated vessel shipping cargo directly from St Helena, Cape Town and Walvis
    Bay;
  • And of course, we connected to the Equiano subsea cable via our Internet Service Provider,
    Sure South Atlantic as of 01st October 2023, which resulted in St Helena experiencing for the
    first time, access to unlimited data plans to name but a few.
    With 2024 fast approaching, I would like to remind you of our ministerial priorities for the coming
    year. They include:
  • Immigration reforms, to ensure the immigration system works with the aim of growing the
    working age population, thereby lowering the dependency ratio, increasing economic
    productivity, and increasing the market size on St Helena. It is envisaged that a new
    Immigration Policy will be implemented by April 2024;
  • Reforms in the Education Sector so that we can improve the standards of teaching, providing
    additional support to the increasing number of learners with Special Educational Needs and
    Disabilities (SEND) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and the utilization
    of more on-line teaching to bolster and provide more sustainability;
  • The development of an IT strategy to modernize IT infrastructure and systems technology;
  • A focus on how to better utilize and develop human resource capacity in SHG to improve
    service delivery outcomes;
  • The continuation of work being undertaken to move to a health system that focuses on
    preventative care, to ensure a better quality of life and, to reduce the pressure on other
    parts of our budget in the longer term;
  • Wharf Infrastructure, to ensure the programme of work to complete the Rupert’s wharf
    facility benefits the Island through better services for merchants and importers, and
    releasing Jamestown wharf as a new leisure area;
  • Renewable Energy, to ensure the island continues on the path towards cleaner, affordable
    and more stable energy;
  • The development and marketing of new economic sectors, in particular focusing on the
    opportunities of developing a financial services sector and those enabled by the fibre optic
    cable connection;
  • And continuing to focus on the development plan to establish an enabling environment for
    private sector development.

All of which I hope, provides a flavour of where our efforts will be concentrated. To achieve such an ambitious agenda however, will require essential ingredients that I have made mention of earlier – togetherness, community spirit and of course team spirit. We need to strengthen Team St Helena, as in partnership we can achieve so much more. I challenge you to take the positivity, the ‘can do’ attitude, the loving and caring approach that the festive season brings with it into 2024, so that we can proudly say that we all played a part in creating a sustainable environment that creates opportunity and inspires social and economic progress ensuing a better quality of life for all. This is the ultimate objective.

In closing I would like to thank you all for your contribution, dedication and hard work during 2023
and I wish you and your families a Christmas that is filled with lots of love and good cheer, followed
by a New Year that brings you all the happiness and success you deserve.

To those of you visiting, enjoy St Helena and what it has to offer, we are delighted to have you. I
hope you are able to make it a unforgettable holiday so that you come back and see us again soon.

Happy Holidays Everyone

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: kimberley.peters@sainthelena.gov.sh