South African Chamber of Commerce President to invest in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (one) Hon. Marie Jalloh has together with her Director of Extension Mr. Bakarr J. Bangura, Head of IFAD Mr. Mohamed Tejan Khella; led the President of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, Mr. Willem Ellis who has shown great interest to invest in rice cultivation in the country. Mr. Ellis’ visit to Torma Bum in the Bonthe District is to assess the agricultural potential the country has, of which he is ready to bring in farmers to invest.
Welcoming the Deputy Minister and team, the Paramount Chief of Bum Chiefdom, Hon. PC Alex Kainpumu expressed his gratitude to see that his chiefdom is receiving investors that will help restore the lost glory. He commended President Ernest Bai Koroma’s leadership for providing them with the biggest rice mill in the country.
IFAD’s Project Coordinator, Mohamed Tejan Khella said the farmers are committed to production to restore the lost glory. He is hopeful that investors will have great interest and zeal to go into large scale mechanization on rice production.
The Deputy Minister, Mrs. Marie Jalloh said she is impressed to see the great potential in Torma Bum, and added that there is a dare need to increase production and productivity, which is a vision of the President. By next year, she said Torma Bum will be a different place. Government, she said want more private sector investment in the agriculture sector so as to flood the market with locally produced food stuffs and export to other countries.
The Deputy Minister said government want farmers to increase production and productivity on rice, cassava, cocoa, coffee, cashew, ginger etc.
Addressing the people of Torma Bum, Willem Ellis said his Chamber has some of the best farmers in the world that produce the best. “I will use my expertise to put a package together to help develop Sierra Leone with tens of thousands of hectares rice cultivation,” he said
”My vision is to establish large scale farming, support supply chains and export high quality products under a Sierra Leone Brand,” Ellis said. The potential investor went on to say that ”All this will be done under a sustainable plan and that benefits of the large scale farming will be extended to the small holder farmers in order to significantly increase and intensify farm development. ”’In partnership with investment companies in the United States, new production methods and other opportunities would be pursued, ” Ellis added.
He revealed that small-scale farmers will be upgraded to catch up with those in developed countries. “Our goal is to ensure that you have improved technologies and to change your lives in the near future,” the Investor said he will work hard to make the project a reality.
A Sierra Leonean Accountant working in the United States of America who pioneered the coming of Ellis in Sierra Leone, Bassie Kamara said the kind of investment they will bring into the country will be of great difference, adding that they will not take land from anybody. “We are here to create standards and to enable you compete with other farmers in the world so that you become self-sufficient,” he told Farmers.
Ellis was taken on a conducted tour of the dilapidated rice mill facilities and land at Torma Bum; Lion Mountain Rice Mill Company in Bo, Mountain Lion Company in Makeni, Golden Mill Rice Company at Gbomsamba Village, and Ronsar Rice and Rubber Plantations in Port Loko District.
Willem Ellis was appointed President of South African Chamber of Commerce in America (SACCA) in October 2014 to facilitate the launch of a national chamber for South Africa in the USA.
He has more than 30 years experience as a global executive and technology entrepreneur and founded ATIO Corporation, an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems integrator in South Africa in 1986. He worked with many leading global companies during his career, across a broad spectrum of vertical industries, including IT, Internet, health care, finance, manufacturing, real estate, biotechnology, agriculture and food processing.
He is an experienced strategy consultant advising large and small companies in the USA on growth. He successfully raised various forms of growth capital, including venture capital, private equity, public equity, and debt.
In addition to his professional career, he headed the Telecommunications Division of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to monitor South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 for freeness and fairness.
In 2008 he lead the US team in a strategic partnership (The Intsimbi Partnership) between USA institutions, the Department of Trade and Industries (South Africa) and the National Tooling Initiative of South Africa to implement a skills development pilot for South Africa’s manufacturing industry. The program graduated it’s first tool-die-and-mold makers in 2014 and currently has more than 1,600 students enrolled.
Willem holds a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
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