With support from Smallholder Commercialization Agricultural Development Project (SCADeP), a team from the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion (SLIEPA) Head Office, led by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma paid a four-day aftercare visit to investments operating in the Northern province of Sierra Leone from the 19th – 23rd June 2019.
In various meetings with the companies visited, the CEO, Mr. Koroma, stated that the purpose of the tour was to understand their current status; including progress and challenges, to engage the community to support their investments, and to hear from them where demands the need for SLIEPA’s intervention. He said the role of SLIEPA is to facilitate investment and to promote export, therefor the Agency is charged with the responsibility to protect and support their investments.
According to the Aftercare and Event Manager, Sally Sulaiman-Gassama, the Aftercare Service provided by SLIEPA, is a range of activities undertaken by the Agency to ensure the retention of existing investors through follow up engagements. She said the presence of SLIEPA in the region is to ensure that the existing businesses have a conducive investment atmosphere. She encouraged the companies to be updating SLIEPA with their challenges and progress on regularly basis.
When updating SLIEPA, the companies highlighted their progress and challenges. The Chief Operation Officer/Director of Sunbird Bioenergy Sierra Leone, Mr. Subbash Abeywickrama, said they have multi product and market concept where they do not only generate Bioenergy, but also embark on the cultivation and processing of cassava and sugar cane into different products for Sierra Leone and the Regional markets. He noted that they are about to complete cultivating ten thousand acres of sugar cane with a current employment of four thousand five hundred locals and an extension plan that will provide up to twelve thousand jobs.
Among other challenges, Mr. Abeywickrama, noted, the ongoing negotiation between the company and the Government for energy supply to the national grid and the need for tax waiver for their machineries.
In a brief statement the General Manager of Ned Oil, a palm oil processing and exporting company in Yele, Gbonkeleke Chiefdom, Toknkolili District, Mr. Mohamed Kamara, said they have fifty three permanent staff, fifty casual workers and two thousand one hundred forty two out growers. He said they produce organic palm oil that are exported to Europe. He however, mentioned few challenges in connection with export procedures and the lack of equipment to conduct quality test of some parameters the European market demands.
Mr. Donald Ola Smart, the CEO and Co-owner of Mountain Lion Agriculture, based in Makeni, also appreciated the SLIEPA Team for the visit. He said they process over two tons husk rice per-hour with a low level carbohydrate content. Mr. Smart said their company works with over four thousand out growers in different Districts, but he noted access to finance as their major challenge.
SLIEPA also visited Kamshew in Kambia District and the community stakeholders where the companies operate.
The CEO of SLIEPA, Mr. Koroma, however, assured the companies and community stakeholders of SLIEPA’s commitment to working with them and the relevant stakeholders to address their various challenges in ensuring a conducive investment climate going forward.
Other staff that participated in the mission were the Acting Director of Marketing and Communications Mr. Francis Minah, Acting Director of Investment Promotion, Mr. Victor Bangura, Deputy Director, Head of Provinces, Mr. Alex .J. Mammy and three other Officers.