Sierra Leone Accelerates Business Diplomacy
Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Hon. Mrs. Ebun Jusu has said Energy, Infrastructure & Reforms are the key priority areas of the President Ernest Bai Koroma led government. The Hon Minister made this statement on Wednesday October 4,2012, when she paid a one day official visit to the U.S Department of States,Washington DC.
Speaking with representatives from a selected group of African Countries (Sierra Leone, Benin, Gabon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Botswana & Mauritius) at a one day investment dialogue, that was organized by the United States of America, at the Department of State C – Street Washington DC, the Hon. Minister expressed delight at the fact that Sierra Leone was among the chosen few, invited by the United States government to discuss business at the highest diplomatic level and described the action of the United States government “a mark of confidence”.
The Hon. Minister told the gathering – consisting Hon. Jose Fernandez United States Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Stephen Hayes President Corporate Council on Africa, Liban Soleman Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic of Gabon and other very important and high profile personalities, that Sierra Leone is not only a business friendly Country, but is also characterized by Internationally approved “business Best Practices” that has seen an increase in the attraction of private sector investment in infrastructure.
During the four sessions, the Hon. Deputy Foreign and International Cooperation Minister said government’s business policy encourages and supports private investment into Sierra Leone.
Hon. Ebun Jusu gave a synopsis of available investment opportunities in Sierra Leone including Energy, Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Infrastructure and said “our government is continually updating the policy environment for doing business. “It has improved twenty five (25) places in four years in the World Bank doing Business index; and Sierra Leone is also ranked 72nd in ease of starting a business.
She said Sierra Leone has a new Bankruptcy Act in place and has made trade across borders easier with the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
In addition, “we have land digitalization project, a new Company’s Act – wherein an Investor is strengthened and a director liability improved.
We also have streamline construction permits, whereby the organization of the building approval process has been improved and phased inspections reinstated thereby cutting procedures for obtaining a construction permit.
Also in place is a fast track commercial courts in an effort to expedite commercial cases, including insolvency proceedings; a credit reference bureau to improve its credit information system, a new law that provides for the creation of a public credit registry that makes it easier for companies to get credit, attractive fiscal incentives including numerous tax and non – tax incentives; and special economic zone that was created and offering infrastructure and is financed by a United States based company, first step international.
Earlier, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Hon Jose Fernandez welcomed Ministers and delegates including the new Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy to the Washington D C. Mrs. Aisha Sillah from the selected African Countries.
According to Stephen Hayes President Corporate Council on Africa, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is a nonprofit, membership-based organization established in 1993 to promote business and investment between the United States and the nations of Africa. He said CCA is the premier American organization devoted to U.S.-Africa business relations and includes as members more than 180 companies, which represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. CCA’s members range from America’s smallest to largest corporations. They represent a diverse pool of industries from more than 20 key sectors, including agribusiness, energy, infrastructure, security, power, healthcare, telecommunications and finance.
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