By KABS KANU :
In pursuit of its Agenda for Prosperity and its goal of making Sierra Leone a magnet for international trade, commerce and investment, the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government, under the inspiring leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, is leaving no stone unturned to sell the country’s huge investment and commercial potentials to the international world. Unlike past governments, which were found wanting in showcasing the tremendous resources at the disposal of the nation ,the APC Government has been proactive in its quest to ensure that the investment, mineral and material resources in the country are utilized for the betterment of Sierra Leoneans and generations yet unborn.
Sierra Leone definitely has so much to offer. The country is laden with mineral resources like gold, diamonds, bauxite, iron ore and hopefully oil. The country also produces food resources like cocoa, cacao and piassava ,while having abundant virgin forests and waters for large -scale farming. The commercial atmosphere in the country is also condusive for progressive business and investment endeavours. The APC Government , unlike past administrations, would not sit on these laurels and is doing everything to stimulate international interest in the country’s resources for commercial and trade relations with the international world that would yield dividends for the nation.
THE CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA TOWN MEETING HELPED IMMENSELY TO DRAW ATTENTION TO SIERRA LEONE’S POTENTIALS TO DO PRODUCTIVE BUSINESS WITH THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD
This was primarily why when he realized that he would not be opportuned to come to the U.S. recently, President Koroma wisely decided not to cancel any of the programs set for him outside the UN General Assembly ,but rather he set up high-powered delegations to attend all the functions, many of which were designed to foster profitable relations between Sierra Leone and potential investors and business and commercial organizations.
AS ONE OF THE OFFICIALS appointed by President Koroma to represent him in the U.S. during his unfortunate absence, I want to report that these meetings went well and achieved their purposes of showcasing to the world what Sierra Leone has to offer in international trade , business and commerce and the areas crying for international investment .
THE NEW JERSEY ESSEX COUNTY ECONOMIC SUMMIT WAS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EVENTS
The Presidential Delegation attended two key meetings on behalf of President Ernest Koroma that turned out to be massive success stories in projecting the potentials of the nation.
The First event was the CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA Town meeting in Washington DC on September 17, 2013, under the theme : ” Harnessing the capacity of the African diaspora in Building Africa. Though its emphasis was Africa in general, this meeting showed the world that Sierra Leone was now more than ready to do business with the world.
President Koroma addressed the meeting by video link from Freetown with a powerful and well-delivered speech that put the icing to the cake. President Koroma rightly told the meeting packed with international business and investment executives and stakeholders that “Africa is the new frontier for economic growth and investment. ” He also demolished any negative illusions, perceptions or concerns prospective investors might have about today’s Africa .
Masterfully, President Koroma emphasized that : “Democracy, political and economic stability are taking roots in the continent. Our economies are becoming more open, our societies more tolerant, and our budgets more balanced. Our debt burdens have declined and we are reducing rates of inflation all over the continent. The results are greater growth rates than ever before. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa, one of which is my country Sierra Leone. Foreign Direct investments in the continent have increased more than six folds since 2007; and more than in almost all other regions of the world, we have better rates of return for enterprises that are establishing new marketing networks, new brands and innovative products. Africa’s doing business rankings, transparency indicators and the number of companies in the race to invest in the continent are increasing. All over the continent it is becoming easier to register businesses; tax systems are becoming clearer, investment protection laws stronger, and fiscal management more prudent. Whilst there are some remaining challenges, we are, in Sierra Leone, as in many other countries in the continent, moving on to ensuring international best practices in our mineral acts and providing fiscal incentives for enterprises in mining, infrastructure, agribusiness, tourism, value addition and renewable energy.” Coming from a leader who does not only enjoy international credibility but is a model of the ideals encapsulated in his statement, President Koroma certainly fertilized the ground for prospective investors and business people .
The other meeting that effectively sold Sierra Leone to the international business world was held at Essex County College in New Jersey on Monday September 23, 2013 and it was titled : “The Sierra Leone -New Jersey Economic Development Summit ” . It was coordinated by Mr.Foday Mansaray and a team of Sierra Leone-lovers from the Newark African Commission . The meeting brought together many prospective investors and heads of business organizations and institutions interested in doing business in Sierra Leone. How effective and successful that meeting turned out to be could be observed rom the way the leading New Jersey newspaper, The Star-Ledger, covered the story : Read : “Sierra Leone open for business, says delegation visiting Essex County College ” . See : http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/09/sierra_leone_open_for_business.html. At this meeting, the leader of the delegation, Information Minister Hon. Alpha Kanu, delivered a masterclass, a stirring speech that cleverly revealed the country’s investment and business potentials and stimulated tremendous interest in the country. If effectively followed up, Sierra Leone will reap rich dividends from this meeting.
In recent times, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Wusu Boie Kamara , the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma , Chief of Staff Dr. Richard Konteh and the Deputy Minister of Information, Hon. Theo Nicol, have gone to different countries in the diaspora to tell the world about President Koroma’s Agenda For Prosperity and the country’s investment potentials.
Additionally, the Government of Sierra Leone, led by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kelphala Marah, has just concluded a successful Investment Forum and economic Road Show in Washington DC.
All these initiatives clearly demonstrate the fact that the Ernest Koroma Government is really determined to showcase globally Sierra Leone’s socio-economic and political potentials and importance so that international investors and business organizations and institutions would come in to help the country maximize her abundant endowments in mineral , natural and material resources. This will no doubt bring tremendous benefits to the people. This is the hallmark of a government that knows the heights it wants to propel the nation as it continues its valiant fight to make Sierra Leone the socio-economic and political Mecca of Africa.