Dilating on the Topic “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Sierra Leone” during a two hours interactive session of “International Business Strategic Advisory Council meeting at the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation Conference Room, Ambassador Stevens told a cross section of Prince Georges County Business Chief Executives that the business and investment climate in Sierra Leone is characterized by reforms bent on attracting and sustaining Foreign Direct Investment as a means of stimulatory private –sector led economic growth and development.
“In Sierra Leone, foreign investments are protected against expropriation, Ambassador Stevens said, adding that, “Every person is protected from deprivation of property. It is contained in the law books of Sierra Leone that no property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired.”
He said that the Investment Promotion Act in Sierra Leone provide guarantees for the free transfer of funds with no restrictions on the repatriation of all forms of earnings and capital including, but not limited to, after tax profits, proceeds of liquidation, expatriate remittances, awards from dispute settlements and repayments of principal and interest on loans contracted abroad.
According to His Excellency “if a dispute arises between the Government and an investor with respect to an investment by the government, both parties will use their best efforts for an amicable settlement. If satisfaction is not gotten, either of or the two parties can seek justice from the United Nations Commission on International Trade (UNCITRAL) and, or the Courts of The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS Community Courts) and other mutually agreeable national or international dispute settlement system.
In order to simplify the investment climate in the Country, Ambassador Stevens said the government established “the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) through an Act of Parliament to serve as a lead public institution in promoting investments and facilitating exports in Sierra Leone.
“SLIEPA is tasked with serving as the one stop shop for investment information for FDI, develop relationship between public and private sector for growth of investment, promote investment opportunities, provide hand holding service for investors, identify potential investors and encourage them to invest and partner strategically to every investor.”
He gave a brief history of Sierra Leone, its strategic location and attributes, population, legal system, climate and political governance structure.
Ambassador Stevens invited the business community of Prince George’s County to invest in Energy and Water, Transport, Tourism, Agriculture, Mining, Fishing and Infrastructure sectors.
“I am inviting you to come and be a beneficiary of the recently adopted investment incentive policy by the government that is bent on providing a frame work for the uniform and objective provision of investment incentives in the country.” said Ambassador Stevens.
Several questions regarding security, the rationale behind the status of Sierra Leone relating to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the status of the government in so far as to the fight against graft is concern. Other questions including the status of the economy of the country, investment opportunities in the inland water ways, information technology and health sectors also formed part of the deliberation.
All attendees were high profiled chief executives including, Pravin N. Sheladia, Chairman, SHELADIA Associates, Inc., Sharrarne Morton, President, Morton Media, a Professor at the University of Maryland, Philippa Palmer who also doubles as Marketing Director, Global Technology Solutions, Dallah B. Herman, CEO, Forward Technologies Corporation, Omni Systems, Catherine Thomas, Executive Vice President, XCBG International Development Group, Eric Henderson, Executive Chairman, BEACON Ltd., Export Management, Major Retired James Henderson RFC (USAF), President, Wealth Management Center and other CEOs of Roots to Glory Tours, Legal Shield, Economic Development Corporation, Prince George’s Community College.
Earlier, Chairman of the International Business Strategic Advisory Council, Dallah Herman, introduced His Excellency Bockari Kortu Stevens and described the meeting to be very important to have the Ambassador of Sierra Leone in their midst not only to update some of them about the business climate in Sierra Leone, but also to have him give authentic and cohesive information about the West African country.