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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid