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Welcoming Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed to Sierra Leone

Welcoming Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed to Sierra Leone

His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia visited the small West African State of Sierra Leone on 10th June, 2013, following his recent invitation by Sierra Leone’s President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. (Photo: l-r HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and President Ernest Bai Koroma) [Photo credit: State House Communications)

Prince Alwaleed – ‘The Richest Arab’

HRH Prince Alwaleed is the Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC). He was ranked number one in the Arabic and English issue of Arabian Business Magazine’s 50 Richest Arabs List, 2012 with a net worth of 25.9 Billion dollars. The Prince’s wealth reached $ 26.9 billion dollars, according to the latest poll conducted by Bloomberg as of 3rd, June 2013.

Sierra Leone – Saudi Relationship very cordial

The warm friendship that Sierra Leone and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed spanned from the late 1970’s, when both countries signed a bilateral relationship. Since then, the bilateral and economic relationship between the two countries has been growing from strength to strength.  The Saudi billionaire’s visit to Sierra Leone would further strengthen the friendly and mutual cooperation that exist between the two countries and peoples.

The President and His Royal Highness are expected to discuss social and economic issues of mutual interest, and the bilateral relationship between their respective countries as well as the potential opportunities for HRH to develop and grow his investments in Sierra Leone as a whole and in the hotel and tourism industry in particular.

The Prince’s visit to Sierra Leone, according to a Senior Official attached to the Office of the President, can also afford President Dr. Ernest BaiKoroma’s administration the golden opportunity to discuss with his special guest a sea of potentials Sierra Leone has for inclusion in the Prince’s business empire of vast investment portfolio for Africa.

Prince Alwaleed – a heavy weight Investor

The billionaire Prince, who is biased towards investment, is a Western trained businessman. He is a man who has huge investments in almost every nook of the world; he is a man who is ready to invest in whatever legal form of project that he believes can yield dividends; and he is a man who is so compassionate about the abject poverty of nations of the developing countries.

He has investments in Africa in sectors such as Tourism, Infrastructure, Real Estate and Telecommunications. That indicates his interest in that continent for economic and social prosperity.  Prince Alwaleed, for example, has 5-Star hotels in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, to name but a few.

With the vast potential Sierra Leone has, the KHC Chairman may grab the opportunity to heavily invest in that country, given the favourable conditions for business, which have attracted direct foreign investment in several sectors, including the Mining Industry,  Tourism, Agriculture, Marine, Energy, amongst others.

Sierra Leone – a business friendly country

Geographically, Sierra Leone covers an area of 71,710 square kilometers with Liberia to the South – East, Guinea to the North – East; and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. The last national census conducted in 2005, pegged the population of Sierra Leone to 4.9 million; but according to indicators, the population is rapidly growing towards six million.

Sierra Leone has become a choice place to do business and getting better by the second; and you can talk that to the Governor of the Central Bank, Sheku Sambadeen Sesay, who was the country’s Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development until 2008, when he took up his current position.

According to him:  “ Investors have the assurance of the World Bank, which recently promoted the country to the 148th position from the 163rd slot it occupied in a ranking that was considered 183rd  countries the world over.”

At present, the real kick is in the upbeat prediction that Sierra Leone will move even higher in the table in the coming years to be among the top performer in this category in sub-Saharan Africa. The signs are there for all to see. The Administrator and Registrar General’s Office has reduced the time for business registration procedures, while average number of days for obtaining licenses and business permits has been cut from twenty-six days in 2008 to twelve in 2010.

“All these improvement complemented the activities of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) set up in 2007 to provide personalized and high value added services and information to investors and exporters working to develop proven investment opportunities in the country,” says the Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone.

Also in June, 2010, the Government of Sierra Leone went a step further by inaugurating the National Export Strategy (NES) which advocates a strong private sector-led export drive to make the economy grow along the line charted by South – East Asian economies.

President Koroma’s administration is also serious about transforming Sierra Leone’s soft infrastructure, by streamlining tax administration, establishing fast track commercial courts and cutting red tape. Such reforms have seen Sierra Leone climb 20 places in the World Bank’s annual business activities rankings in the last five years, and have also made the country one of the top 5 countries in Sub-Saharan African for investor protection and have increasingly provided atmosphere conducive to establish business.

And now that the Government’s reform efforts have gathered momentum, a growing number of foreign investors have taken into account the investment opportunities that Sierra Leone can offer in abundance.

Sierra Leone’s potentials for trade and industrial activities were highlighted by leaders from all over the world at the Sierra Leone Trade and Investment Forum held in London in 2009. As former British Prime Minister Tony Blair explained at the forum, “Sierra Leone has massive natural resources and wonderful possibilities commercially in agriculture, tourism, mining and other sectors. In addition, for the first time, it has a stable government with a president who genuinely wants to make positive changes in his country and root out corruption.”

Foreign investment success stories in Sierra Leone

According to the widely read European Independent Media Agency, The European Times, foreign investors already operating in Sierra Leone have demonstrated the country’s potential.

French petroleum giant Total is one global investor which has put its faith in Sierra Leone and is thriving there, serving as an example to other multinationals considering an investment in the country, the Magazine reported recently.

“Local cement producer Leocem, part of Heidelberg Cement, was recently the target of around €7.7 million in investment from the parent group, a sign of confidence in Sierra Leone’s future.”

Another successful foreign investor, the Magazine added, is Maersk Sierra Leone, part of the global AP Moller – Maersk group, which has been operating in the country for many years and has established a registered local company in Sierra Leone since 2003.

It has also been reported that Addax Bioenergy, a division of the Switzerland based Addax & Oryx Group, has established a Greenfield integrated agricultural and renewable energy project in the northern headquarters of Makeni, to produce fuel ethanol and electricity from sugarcane.

African Minerals Limited is a minerals exploration and development company with significant interests in Sierra Leone. It is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange, and is now headquartered in London, United Kingdom.


The Company is currently focused on the development of the world class iron ore deposit at Tonkolili in northern Sierra Leone and its related rail and port infrastructure. The project is the largest employer in Sierra Leone and is set to become the largest contributor to the country’s GDP.

London Mining Company is an expanding producer of high specification iron ore for the global steel industry and is focused on identifying, developing and operating sustainable mines.

London Mining commenced sales from the Marampa mine in Sierra Leone in 2012 and expects to reach production capacity of 5Mtpa this year.

Banking System

The banking system has been greatly improved since the establishment of new banks with off-shore headquarters, especially from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These foreign banks are helping to build capacity in the country as they introduce innovations in management and modern payment systems, compatible with today’s global business imperatives. Stakeholders in the financial system are currently gearing up for the take-off of the stock exchange, which is currently functioning in a low-key mode under the auspices of the Apex Bank.

Tourism Industry

The tourism industry is becoming an attractive area for investment given the superb panorama of the beautiful beaches and mountains from the hotels in Aberdeen and other notable areas along the Atlantic Ocean in the Western Area, where the capital is located.

There are numerous places of attraction around the country which tourists would not regret visiting.  Our flora and fauna, and our beautiful monuments like the famous Bounce Island ,where slaves were shipped to America during the Atlantic slave trade, the Tambo Kilimi Reserve in the Tambakha Chiefdom, Bombali District and other areas in Kabala, Shenge, Sulima, Pepel and Bonthe are all beautiful and still remain as major tourist attraction areas in the country.

Sierra Leone is remarkably beautiful, with pristine beaches, green mountains, and jungles that remain largely untouched. It has friendly people with political and religious tolerance. Sierra Leone is blessed with the largest natural harbour in Africa.

The last five years have seen rapid development in the tourist industry, thanks to the shrewd business mentality of President Dr. Ernest BaiKoroma, who told Sierra Leoneans in his 2007 presidential campaign that, if elected, he would run Sierra Leone like a business entity. Today, the rapid development that is taking place in the country is totally unprecedented.

Little wonder that foreign investors are coming to Sierra Leone in droves to invest in various sectors because all the necessary economic strategies have been put in place to make the country very business friendly.

You are most welcome to Sierra Leone, Your Royal Highness

I think Prince Alwaleed deserves a red-carpet welcome not only from President Koroma and his Government, but also from every concerned and patriotic Sierra Leone national; a sort of welcome that would make the Prince feel at home and have him make a repeated come back to our homeland with enormous business potentials and investment opportunities that would benefit the people of Sierra Leone. Welcome to Sierra Leone, Your Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

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