By PEL Koroma Information Attache Embassy of Sierra Leone Washington D.C
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in his engagement with the United States Chamber of Commerce described the SLPP government as a liberal, progressive and business friendly government.
Professor David Francis clearly informed the United States Chamber of Commerce that he wants to move away from the old tradition of Foreign Ministers from Africa running to countries with cap in hand begging for donor support, but that he wants to present the unique opportunities to partners who are interested in making profits out of their investments, and at the same time making the country and people of Sierra Leone better.
Professor Francis heartily commended the problem resolving mechanism of his government, citing the case of the S.L. Mining Company that has been recently resolved amicably to the interest of both parties, and the unfortunate situation about the First International Bank, and both has to do with investments stemming from United States.
“We support businesses as a government because no country has developed without the private sector,” he stated.
The Foreign Affairs Minister quickly challenged investors that if they want to make profits on their investments, they should come to Sierra Leone and explore the untapped opportunities in the extractive industry, agriculture, marine, tourism, oil and gas.
The government of Sierra Leone has put in place structures and processes to facilitate a transparent and corrupt free business environment. The Foreign Minister said his government is aware of the excruciating financial challenges their traditional partners are going through as a result of the Global pandemic, so it would be very difficult to go to the same old partners that have been helping Sierra Leone since Independence.
“The narrow focus on Economic Diplomacy has now changed to the broad spectrum of Development Diplomacy. The Pandemic has forced Sierra Leone to start doing things differently, and have reinvigorated the government to fast track in looking at other areas for development and service delivery,” he said, adding that the Airborne Geo-data survey Sierra Leone is undertaking should be used as a concession for development. The agricultural land covers 5.4 million hectares of land and the country is determined to produce rice and feed her people as rice is the staple food, and stop importing rice that costs over US$ 200 million.
In the area of Energy, Professor David Francis guaranteed for a strong energy revolution in Sierra Leone, in the sense that 9 River Streams are under processes that will have to generate electricity power supply, and this will be supported by the solar plants and the hydro services.
Prof. Francis assured the United States Chamber of Commerce of the vast corridors of investment in Sierra Leone and the possibility for value addition in the country that will create wealth, jobs, and skills for the citizens of the country.
“We want to change the mentality. We can actually do it in the country, and today we have gold smelting in the country. And we cannot develop our country on charity”, Prof. Francis emphasized. He mentioned the construction of the Lungi Bridge that the government is about to undertake that will make the city more accessible.