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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora