Between prosperity and Sierra Leone’s growth platform
In my last article that dealt with Sierra Leone’s investment potentials, I discussed extensively what the country has achieved from the perspective of providing an enabling business friendly environment, and also pursuing a quest for socio-economic development through His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity. In that article, I looked at the legal provisions that built investors’ confidence to choose Sierra Leone as the destination for investment.
However there are more driving factors that play crucial roles in turning Sierra Leone into a business friendly nation. It is in that light that I am also looking at how the country’s Embassy in China keeps playing pivotal role in the venture of making Sierra Leone a prosperous nation.
China is in the driving seat of today’s changing world. Speaking on the 27th June at the World Peace Forum, Tsinghua University, in the People’s Republic of China, President Ernest Bai Koroma informed the world of how, “from issues relating to trade, investments, security and possibilities of prosperity for most of the world’s people, China moves many of the actions and responses of most of the nations of the world.” Strategically placed in world affairs, China remains to be a rising tiger. It is today the world’s second largest economy, after the United States of America.
Africa, on the other hand is home to the largest number of developing nations on the globe. It is a growing continent, with six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world; her population is increasing at faster rates than many other regions; her cities are growing and over two thirds of the continent’s population are below 35. These growths offer great opportunities for Africa’s future. (Source: President Ernest Bai Koroma on trends in International Security 27th June 2013)
Speaking at the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), July 2012, China’s then President Hu Jintao vowed to remain unchanged in China’s commitment to supporting Africa’s development as they will give genuine “support to African countries’ independent choice of development paths “ as well as help countries in Africa strengthen their capacities for self development. At the said FOCAC Meeting, then President Hu disclosed plans by China to provide “20 billion dollars of credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises”
Because of this strategic importance of China and with Africa having the potential to rise economically in the coming decade (s), the need for a developing nation like Sierra Leone to explore all available opportunities of economic growth and learn from China’s example, this West African nation could effectively position herself for rapid growth.
Sierra Leone and China entered into diplomatic ties in 1971. Since that time, a lot has been happening by way of China’s support to Sierra Leone in many areas, including infrastructure, agriculture and human resource capacity building. And Sino-Sierra Leone support of each other has been amply demonstrated at not only the bilateral level but also at the multilateral international fora.
Sierra Leone continues to treat development as a very serious business. President Ernest Koroma has got the determination to leave a legacy worth remembering when he shall have retired from mainstream politics and governance. He is well placed to ensure the country vigorously drives towards the components of the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’. And here again, China is a key player.
Out of the 20 billion dollars of credit line China is opening to African countries, Sierra Leone is assured of the construction of a new International Airport on the mainland. This new airport will foster trade and encourage greater direct foreign investment that will enhance rapid economic growth.
President Koroma’s recent visit to China is gravitating more meaningful Chinese investments to Sierra Leone. The China Kingho Energy Group has an 8 billion dollar investment portfolio for the country in the areas of mining, railroad construction, hydroelectric power construction, an aluminum smelting plant, etc.
In the president’s delegation to China were the Ministers of Trade, Mines, Agriculture and Foods Security, Waster Resources and Foreign Affairs, all of whom jointly and individually engaged a number of Chinese investors who made valid commitment to invest in Sierra Leone. Amongst such investors are, the Henan Robber Company, COMPLANT, Hainan Gouji, StarTimes Communication Group, etc. Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh, Sierra Leone’s envoy to China, is currently making follow-ups on these commitments to ensure they become fruitful without delay.
With the great importance the People’s Republic of China now assumes on the international scene in areas of socioeconomic development, the role of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing is assuming greater proportion. Currently, the Embassy is restructuring its Commercial Counsellor’s desk to ensure that it meets the challenges especially in broadening its scope to be able to reach out to more investors in the People’s Republic of China and all countries the Mission covers.
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