Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), Raymond Kai Gbekie has in a power-point presentation, blended with a convincing presentation in the Dutch language (he studied in Holland), successfully wooed potential Dutch Investors to seal partnership agreements with dozens of Sierra Leone entrepreneurs at the just concluded Investment conference in The Hague, Holland.
Over 30 Sierra Leone business conglomerate, with an estimated combined investments of over 300 million USD from various sectors ranging from agriculture, infrastructure, mining, health, education etc, participated in the “Back to Growth” Investment conference organised by the Dutch government for the three Mano River Union countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia that were mostly affected and devastated by the rescinding Ebola virus disease. The participation of the Sierra Leone entrepreneurs was facilitated by SLIEPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels.
Presenting the agricultural opportunities Sierra Leone can offer to investors, the SLIEPA boss stated that 75% of the estimated 5.4 million hectares of arable land is available for cultivation, adding that an agricultural investor in Sierra Leone will not only be targeting the Sierra Leone market, but the three Mano River Union countries and the ECOWAS region as whole with an estimated population of nearly 300 million people.
Mr. Gbekie encouraged the Dutch entrepreneurs to join their counterparts who are already operating in Sierra Leone.
“Pre-feasibility studies have already been conducted by SLIEPA for oil palm, sugar, rice and cocoa subsectors to prepare the ground for investors”, Gbekie emphasised.
The government of Sierra Leone, according to Mr. Gbekie, continues to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to boost productivity through mechanised commercial agricultural development across the agriculture value chain, and long-term land lease for up to 71 years to support agribusiness investment.
Dilating on the fisheries sector, Mr. gbekie informed his audience that Sierra Leone has a comparative advantage in West Africa, hosting high fish biomass of shrimps, demersal finfish, pelagic and tuna fishery with potential yields.
He furthered that the country has 570 kilometeres of coastline and a continental shelf area of about 30,000 square kilometres that contains commercially viable stocks of pelagic and demersal fish, shrimps, octopus, squid, lobsters and crabs.
“Sierra Leone fisheries are worth over 100 Million USD annually and the sector provides 80% animal protein source for majority of the citizens thereby creating direct and indirect employment for over 500,000 Sierra Leoneans”, the SLIEPA CEO disclosed.
SLIEPA is created to promote investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and provide information to potential investors on matters relating to investments.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Embassy of Sierra Leone,