Sierra Leone Sets For Major Investments
Living in Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Press AttachÃ© at the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone for about 10 months now, I haveÂ Â been exposed to a variety of opinions about my beloved country. (Photo: Alhaji Jalloh, Information Attache, Saudi Arabia)
While some of the viewpoints are positive, a good number are negative. Sadly enough, the negative views are usually associated with the brutal rebel war that was concluded in 2002.
The general perception of many is that, Sierra Leone is a country that has squandered her opportunities to growth and development. The problem of good governance, mismanagement and misuse of resources are seen as the paradigm of the tainted perception about Sierra Leone.
The reluctance of people to accept my statements that Sierra Leone is a new country is, usually quite evident on the faces of the people. On several occasions, my attention has been drawn to the numerous articles about corruption, lawlessness, inadequate power and water supplies etc. which are being posted on the internet by some Sierra Leone media practitioners.Â
In spite of the pessimistic views held about our country by some people, I have remained very hopeful because it is a country that has achieved quite a lot since the end of the vicious revel war. One thing I have always admired about my country is the determination of Sierra Leoneans that has made it possible for them to overcome great odds to forge ahead.
I think Sierra Leone should not have difficulty in positively marketing her accomplishments, image, reputation, commitment, investor/visitor friendliness, beauty etc. Unlike other war-torn countries, Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress in rebuilding its democratic institutions.
It is also worth mentioning that, most post-war countries take decades to establish democratic institutions and create the enabling environment for the conduct of free and fair elections.
Following the Presidential declaration at the end of the rebel war in 2002, Sierra Leone has successfully conducted two transparent free and fair Presidential and Parliamentary elections, over 100 Paramount Chieftain elections, two nationwide Local Council elections and several Bye-elections. This is contrary to what is generally assumed to be prevailing in Sierra Leone.
Under the Charismatic leadership of our President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone was able to enact the Minimum Wage Law. The enactment of the law facilitated the uplifting of thousands of households from the poverty traps.
The establishment of institutions like the Commission for Human Rights, Commission for Democracy, Independent Media Commission, and National Commission for War Affected Children and, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation are some of the landmark achievement of the country. These are institutional resources which can agitate the rights of the citizens and even instill a love with a sense of patriotism for their country.
It is also worth mentioning that the said institutions either support democratic ideals, free market principles, security, peace and stability, poverty reduction, national growth or developments etc.Â All of these indicate that Sierra Leone is ready for a positive image building or re-branding.
The list of relatively big name companies that are investing in Sierra Leone continues to increase – Sierra Rutile, London Mining, African Minerals, Koidu Holdings, Zain, Africell, Tigo, Comium etc. are creating job opportunities for many Sierra Leoneans with added tax revenues and also foreign exchange earnings forÂ government.
The country continues to enjoy the confidence and support of her development partners like the UK, US, EU, China, Japan, to name but a few for sustaining the peace, tranquility and stability in the country.
This is, therefore, an appeal to the global community for them to recognize the tremendous strides relative to development that have been made in post conflict Sierra Leone. Incidentally, they are the same achievements that should be marketed in the re-branding of the country.Â Under the dynamic leadership of H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone is ready for business and welcomes tourists who plan to visit. The post conflict environment is one of peace and security with investment opportunities for multi-national companies.Â Â
Before I conclude, I want to delve into the connotation of the word REBRANDING as used by His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, which has been widely misconstrued by some political pundits and commentators. The concept of the word REBRANDING is to dispel fears and misgivings which investors have over the years developed about this potentially vast rich country, Sierra Leone, because of bad governance and corruption by previous regimes.
Thus the motive of President Koroma is not to give a new name to our country, but to instill absolute trust and confidence into potential investors and tourists that the country is abundantly rich in vast mineral, agricultural, marine and material resources and that with a very stable and peaceful Government investments in both the Private and Public Sectors can strive with the intervention of the institutions that he has set up to create such enabling environment.
Finally, I think it’s high time for all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, irrespective of tribe, political affiliations and regional background to shed light on some of these erroneous misconceptions.
Alhaji Jalloh, Information Attache, Sierra Leone Embassy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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