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“Peace is a natural effect of trade” Charles de Montesquieu

“Peace is a natural effect of trade” Charles de Montesquieu

I am delighted to announce that British and Sierra Leonean businesses have come together to launch the British Chamber of Commerce in Sierra Leone (BCCSL). The BCCSL will encourage British companies interested in coming and working in Sierra Leone to share their experiences and will give local entrepreneurs a chance to meet British counterparts interested establishing in this market. This will help to broaden out the economic development already underway here as a result of rapidly growing activity in the minerals sector.   (Photo: Ian Hughes, British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, author)

This is exciting because commerce energises and motivates people; it provides wealth, employment and sense of purpose. But it can also bring peace. Prosperous and democratic nations rarely fall into civil conflict because their citizens have substantial stakes in the stability needed to allow their businesses to succeed.

President Koroma is right when he says Sierra Leone is open for business. The economy is growing at a rapid rate. UK businesses interest in investing here is rising across a number of sectors: mining, agriculture, fisheries and infrastructure to name a few. But we have to remember that success cannot be taken for granted. If we want a stable, prosperous future for our children and grandchildren we have to work for that.

The next ten years will be crucial for Sierra Leone’s move from dependence on development aid to what we all want to see: a prosperous and vibrant democracy that stands on its own two feet. Getting the basics right will be important: health, education, roads and power matter but underpinning everything will be economic growth.

Sierra Leone has potential: natural resources, energetic, imaginative people and an astonishingly beautiful coastline. But doing business here can sometimes be very difficult. Yes, Sierra Leone was the sixth fastest climber in the Ease of Doing Business index but from a low base: more must be done. And this is where the Chamber comes in – advocating for business, identifying barriers to investment and keeping lines of dialogue with the Government open.

It is encouraging to see that all political parties recognise the importance of effective use of Sierra Leone’s natural wealth. And we support that. Now attention can be turned to the fisheries stocks in the oceans, commercialising agriculture and supporting Sierra Leone nascent tourism industry. Professionalising Lungi airport, following the recent signing of an agreement with a private British firm, is a good first step. We hope there are many more to come.

Now, over to you: what do you see as the sectors British companies ought to target when they seek to partner with Salone businesses?

Blogged by Ian Hughes, British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone

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