Come & Invest -President Bio

 

His Excellency President Bio speaking on the 4th May, 2018 in Ivory Coast to business leaders and the private sector at the Interactive Meeting Business General Conference said: “I want to make this open invitation to all of you to come to invest in Sierra Leone to expand our private sector. There are great opportunities for us to strengthen economic cooperation.”

There is no doubt that with the right kind of investments, Sierra Leone can, within the space of ten years, free itself from food insecurity, and build a strong, diversified economy that can withstand any external shock that all Sierra Leoneans can be proud of, as was envisioned by former President Koroma. In continuation of Sierra Leone’s strive to reach middle income status by the mid 2030s; President Bio has said that his government’s task is to create a vibrant private sector. As a first step, in order to attract and retain direct foreign investors, President Bio’s government is busy laying the foundations of a strong state built on the foundation of respect for the rule of law, good governance, transparency and accountability and special concessions for foreign investors.

There is no two ways about it; Sierra Leone, like all other developing countries that have a low stock of capital on their own to invest in infrastructure and economic growth and development, have to look up to direct foreign investment. President Bio impressed this on the minds of the country’s new high commissioners and ambassadors when he told them at the induction workshop that they have a duty to attract and direct foreign investors into the country.

To set the foundation for creating the human resources that the country needs to compete in a dynamic world, President Bio has introduced free primary and secondary education scheme as well as increased budgetary allocation to the education sector to 21%. Government also continuers to invest heavily in modernizing and revolutionizing of the ICT sector in order to empower banking and international communications which are very vital for trade, commerce and investment.

Would-be-investors in the manufacturing sector – local and international – can take their cue that Sierra Leone is a safe place to invest their monies and expect good returns in the example being set by a local capitalist, Jamal Shallop who in response to President Bio’s clarion call to Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad to invest and expand the economy is currently building a US$25 million soap, butter, cooking oil factory in Kissy Dockyard in the capital, Freetown. Many such investment initiatives are sure to drive economic growth through creating thousands of new jobs that generate incomes and create exports that would go a long way in solving reducing poverty as well as earning foreign exchange.

With the economy in the doldrums after the unexpected collapse of the iron ore export industry that the country largely depended on for employment, incomes and foreign exchange earnings, President Bio notes that in the ‘New Direction,’ agenda, the government’s economic focus is on sustainable and diversified productivity in agriculture, agro industries, fishing, and tourism.  It is only when the economy is diversified that Sierra Leone will be able to reduce its dependence on minerals whose prices are always fluctuating in the internal market and thus be able escape vulnerability to externally generated financial shock.

In which regard, Sierra Leone is endowed with a rich variety of economic opportunities in agriculture, agro-industries, livestock farming, food crop farming, fruits and vegetables that require substantial investments in irrigation systems, land management, governance and research. For example, with current expenditure on the importation of rice standing at $150 million and expected to rise to over $200 million as population increases, government is looking for corporate investors that can not only produce the rice the country needs but also for export to other regional countries that consume rice but cannot meet demand from home sources.

Investment in the economy cannot be left only to foreigners. With people like Dr. Samura Kamara, Dr. David Turay, Hon. Chericoco, Dr. Donald Bash-Taqi and others venturing into farming, and President Bio having said that for future employment as ministers, more consideration will be given to Sierra Leoneans engaged in agriculture, Sierra Leone offers many opportunities across the length and breadth of its wide expanse of land for investments in valuable edible tree crops such as cashew, coffee, cocoa, oil palm, coconuts, banana, plantain, vanilla, etc. With the world concerned about deforestation and global warming, investments in forestry is another lucrative area that the private sector can invest in, in planting economic trees for timber, firewood, charcoal, building, medicines, food, and other purposes.

With President Bio having said that investment in the country will be private sector driven, in the fisheries sector, with demand for sea products on an ever increasing trajectory in Europe and Asia, Sierra Leone with over 200 miles of coastline and a wide variety of consumable marine products is a suitable destination for investors.

Sierra Leone’s tourist sector is underdeveloped and underfunded. In the government’s attempt to woo investors into the sector, the government over the past decade has made substantial investments in national security, improvements on security and safety at the Lungi international airport, provision of first class roads linking the capital to other parts of the country, electricity, water and more lodgings. Having put on hold the proposed new international airport at Mamamah, President Bio is looking for investors for a bridge and road linking Freetown with Lungi airport that will also be a short route to Port Loko, Kambia, Guinea and other countries in the interior sub-region, with the country having already attracted over $1 billion dollars for expansion of its port to serve as a regional transshipment hub.

Sierra Leone also offers investors opportunities in the gas and oil sector. In this sector, the government’s primary objective is to generate wealth without compromising the environment. It will thus simplify negotiations for exploration and exploitation as well as review taxation to make the sector more attractive for investors.