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AKK is stimulating more Chinese investments for Salone

AKK is stimulating more Chinese investments for Salone

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Republic of China is veteran APC politician, Dr. Abdul Karim Koroma (who was the longest serving education minister in the first APC government; a former foreign minister; a respected author; a man even courted by the SLPP when they were in power).  Because China presents the greatest potential today for  Foreign Direct Investments  (FDIs) for Sierra Leone, without strings attached, China can be said to be the most important diplomatic postings in our foreign missions today.  So, it is hardly a wonder that President Ernest Bai Koroma has chosen a seasoned politician and diplomat like Dr. Koroma, commonly known as “AKK.” (Photo: Dr. Abdul Karim Koroma, aka AKK)

China and Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations on July 29, 1971.   Since 1971, China has been known more in Africa for its infrastructural gifts, prestigious projects – the construction of the National Stadium; the building of Youyi Building and Miatta Conference Center, Bintumani Hotel.   This trend has changed in recent years in Sierra Leone, as it is in the rest of Africa.  Bilateral trade between Sierra Leone and China has been on a continuous increase, jumping from 8.1 million U.S. dollars in 2002 to 32.12 million dollars in 2005.

President Ernest Bai Koroma

President Koroma, AKK will bring more ‘gifts’ from China

In 2004, there was an announcement that China would invest $270 million in the tourism industry in Freetown. About two months ago, London Mining announced that a Chinese company would be investing over a hundred million dollars in its operations.  China is changing.  China is no more embroiled in the Cold War ideological postures of the 20th Century – when former ‘Soviet Block’ countries, or, Socialist countries, would proffer gifts to poor African countries just to win diplomatic friends in the U.N. China is in Africa for business that would be mutually beneficial. Our ambassador in China, AKK, is certainly cognizant of these realities of the economic orientation of the new post Moa Zedong China.

China consumes about 50 percent of the world’s iron ore – and as Sierra Leone’s iron ore deposits are being touted as the most plentiful in Africa, and one of the highest qualities in the world, there is business amity between China and Sierra Leone. It is the job of Ambassador Abdul Karim Koroma (AKK) to ensure that Sierra Leone attracts a significant sum of the $60 billion annual Chinese investment into Africa.

An intellectual like AKK ought to know that he must continually work with ministers in  President Koroma’s government, and the private sector, to help create the climate that would make Sierra Leone a more attractive investment terrain than even other competitors in Africa.   Maybe, that is why AKK is in town.  Sierra Leone needs to make substantial efforts to enhance its productive capacities in a variety of industries.  Sector-neutral and passive policies should be replaced by flexible, well-targeted efforts to spur Chinese Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).  

AKK has to work with local people to stimulate value added industries.  Can the Chinese help us to set up huge mango, pawpaw, pineapple plantations, and canning industries, industries and   have these tropical fruits exported around the world, even to China?   Can AKK direct the Chinese immediately to those industries which will mean stimulating jobs for the teeming unemployed youth population that threaten national political stability? 

Ambassadorial positions in the past have been seen as positions of comfort to reward the big guns of a political party in power.  In today’s world, the situation is dramatically different. There has to be ways to measure the productivity of our ambassadors, and those who are not living up to the expectations of the president should be recalled.   If such standards are used, I am sure that AKK as our man in China would stay there for as long as President Koroma is in power.  He could have influenced the over 100 million Chinese investment in our iron ore industry; and there is reliable information that he has wooed more Chinese investors to come to invest in Sierra Leone. 

There is rumor that the Chinese are poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a new international airport for Sierra Leone along the Songo-Waterloo axis, which would mean that we no more would have to endure the tedium of crossing our river to Lungi International Airport.  I am sure that this airport will be complemented with a fast lane road, and overhead bridge straight to our Crown Jewel beach resorts in Lumley, that would circumvent the dense traffic in our business district of Fourah Bay area.  Ambassador AKK has to attune himself with President Koroma’s vision for speedy growth in order to aggressive marketing of Sierra Leone in Chinese. He is quite capable, this articulate and erudite AKK.

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