President Koroma’s commissioning of the Solar Mini-Grid at Lungi last week-end saw a vivid display of his passion (Local Content Policy) encapsulated in the President’s Recovery Priorities. He urged residents to own the project and protect it from being vandalized by unscrupulous people. The project will not only benefit the government but will provide the enabling environment for young people to engage themselves in business which will improve their lives and by extension provide revenue for the government through the taxes they will be paying.
It could be recalled that the Presidents vision of a better Sierra Leone, prompted him to develop the Local Content Policy and after the Ebola included it in his Recovery Priorities. This policy dictates that Sierra Leoneans should be involved in the operations of any foreign company/Investor doing business in the country. Also that Sierra Leoneans should be trained and be in position to understudy all expatriates working in the country. It further includes the strengthening of farmers with the aim of empowering them and boosting production of all locally produced commodities. It involves the creation of the enabling environment that will promote local entrepreneurship and the development of the private sector.
As a President who practices what he preaches, H.E. saw the need for the development of the Road network as a prerequisite to achieve his dream. Without good roads connecting villages and agricultural centres, farmers will not be encouraged to increase their production. Presently the road network links almost every village with the head quarter towns. Then to encourage farmers he introduced the 2016 Finance Act which gives the ordinary Sierra Leonean, especially farmers the advantage, as it encourages Sorghum Farmers to increase in number and yield. With a ready market in the name of the SL Brewery Ltd. Locally produced raw materials for its beverage is encouraged. Fertilizers and seeds are being given to other farmers who have been organized into groups to boost production of various food crops. These can now be transported via the newly constructed road network around the country. The introduction of Solar power into the electricity grid is a consideration geared towards the development of the various communities in terms of better Health Facilities, electricity for domestic use and the development of individual entrepreneurship; as youths will be able to market cold water, drinks, establishment of small kiosk businesses and cinema houses and keep perishable foodstuffs etc.
In the tourism Industry the provision of electricity will further encourage tourists to visit the country and enjoy our natural beaches, purchase locally produced items like ‘Country Cloth’, masks of Sierra Leone culture and other artifacts. With Electricity privately owned guest houses will be able to accommodate guests from other countries visit this country. In this sphere, several hotels have sprung up to cater for the needs of the tourists thus providing job opportunities for the youths and encourage the development of Vocational Educational Institutes to train the youths in various field especially in hotel management and its related discipline.
The recent De-amalgamation process in the North is a step to further enhance the local content Policy as it will enable individual chiefdoms to develop both in infrastructure and agriculture. Mining Communities will now be able to benefit from what their chiefdom has as they will be part of the negotiations of any investor coming to do business in their community. Agricultural communities will be easily identified and encouraged to do large scale farming and boost the development of agriculture in the country. It will further discourage the exodus of young people from the villages to the city where they hardly find jobs as they lack the skills for the available jobs.