News / Africa

Sierra Leone Seeks Investors in Agriculture, Electricity

Sierra Leone Trade and tourism Minister Richard Konteh
Sierra Leone Trade and tourism Minister Richard Konteh
Joe DeCapua

Sierra Leone hosted a trade and investment conference this week, promising significant opportunities in the private sector. Officials say the West African nation has come far since the end of its long civil war in 2002.

Sierra Leone Minister of Trade and Industry Richard Konteh said his country is rebranding itself, and added it no longer portrays the image of a country recovering from war.

“It’s an opportunity for us to move our rebranding efforts further. We know that there are many misconceptions about Sierra Leone. People still think of the war whenever you mention Sierra Leone. People still think it’s all about savagery. It’s all about amputees. And we are saying that’s not true. Let them come and see for themselves,” he said.

Hope in the private sector

Sierra Leone, he said, is now a nation offering investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, mining, fishing and energy.

The conference in Freetown (11/16-17) was titled Sierra Leone: Africa’s New Investment Destination. The theme was Improving Competitiveness and Sustaining Growth. Konteh believes the private sector holds the key to future growth and development.

“We hope that when they come, we’ll also use them to help build the domestic private sector in Sierra Leone. That there will be partnerships forged for the economic development of the country,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund reports that Sierra Leone’s Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, grew five percent in 2010. And it says the country has shown “robust economic activity” in 2011. That’s due to expansion of its agricultural and mining sectors. But inflation has been high this year as a result of higher fuel and food prices.

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index shows Sierra Leone’s ranking has improved nine positions. And in 2012 will be ranked 141 in the index.

Konteh admits the effects of the global recession have been felt.

“Yes, we are receiving a bit of the aftershock of the economic meltdown. But I think we’re managing fairly well as a country,” he said.

Potential growth

Konteh said the government has invested heavily in agriculture. The United Nations and others have said such investment is needed to help ensure food security as the world population rapidly grows.

“We have received investment for that sector, basically in terms of investments in oil palm and sugar cane and rice production. And as a government we are also investing a lot in trying to ensure that we make this country once again an export country for rice, a net exporter of rice rather than a net importer of rice,” Konteh said.

In order to become a rice exporter, Konteh said greater investment in irrigation is needed. That would allow for the production of several rice crops per year.

Sierra Leone is also staking its future on hydroelectric power. Since the end of the civil war, the country has not had the infrastructure for a strong and reliable electricity supply.

It’s completed the first phase of the Bumbuna project on the Seli River. The government says it has the potential to greatly boost Sierra Leone’s power generation. It’s signed an agreement with the California-based Joule Investments Group to increase output from 50 megawatts to 400 megawatts.

It’s also exploring electricity generation using the river basin’s waterfall. Other smaller hydro-electric projects are planned or being built as well.

Konteh said Sierra Leone is also investing heavily in bio-fuels and green energy. “We are also getting into solar energy generation, initially for rural electrification and individual housing.”

Better image

The trade and tourism minister said Sierra Leone no longer wants to be known for civil war atrocities and blood diamonds. He said that’s the past.

“We want to pride ourselves in our peace-loving nature. We want to pride ourselves in our friendliness. We want to pride ourselves in our religious tolerance. We want to say this is the right destination to come and do business. This is the right destination to come as a tourist. This is the right destination,” he said.

Sierra Leone hopes to attract investors by passing what it calls one of the toughest anti-corruption laws in Africa, which includes criminal prosecution. Also, the nation’s president and ministers are required to declare their assets.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

Key stock indexes in London, Paris and Germany were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs