The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has with the support of Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP), conducted a three-day aftercare visit to specific companies in the Eastern Province in Sierra Leone. The mission ran from 3rd– 6th July 2019.
When making his statements, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma said SLIEPA facilitates investment and promotes export. He noted the reason for the visits to be the gathering of first-hand information of the status, challenges and possible expansion plans of the companies for SLIEPA’s intervention where needed; saying that SLIEPA has the mandate to protect their investments. “As the New Direction Government is investment focused, it wants each and every credible investment to be sustainable and progressive. Be rest assured that the services we provide to you as an agency are free of cost,” he said.
The Aftercare and Event Manager, Mrs. Sally Sulaiman-Gassama, also noted that the presence of SLIEPA in the Eastern Region was as a result of a ready structured approach to understand the challenges of existing investments in terms of conducive business climate, their relationship with the Government and the community people. She noted investors established in Sierra Leone to be very important constituents in the development sector as they serve as testimonials to foreign potential investors. She encouraged the companies to be updating SLIEPA with their challenges and progress on regularly basis to be escalated to the relevant stakeholders.
Giving a brief statement, Mr. Victor Bangura, Acting Director of Investment Promotion, reiterated that the mission was an aftercare clinic, because the country can’t continue attracting investors without taking care of the existing ones as they serve as ambassadors of the business climate in Sierra Leone.
In his presentation, Mr. John collie, Chief Operation Officer, of Gold Tree, a palm oil producing company in Daru, Kailahun District, said they have a plantation of two hundred and seventy six hectares of palm trees, working with seven thousand smallholder famers in fourteen chiefdoms, two hundred and fifty six permanent employees and about one thousand casual workers. He further said in collaboration with Solidaridad, they have planted seven hundred thousand hectares of out growers palm trees last year with a plan of doing another two hundred and fifty this year and as well noted an expansion plan together with Natural Habitat. He noted that they have a minimum of fifty thousand Dollars per year to utilize on Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) in their operational areas. Palm oil produced by Gold Tree is mainly sold in the country, the Manor River Union and in the sub-Region.
Mr. Daniel Scholler, Managing Director of Lizard Earth, also said his organization is a cocoa aggregator and grower that operates in twelve communities in Kailahun District with its head office in Kenema City. According to him, out of the nine hundred and twenty hectares they have secured, eighty hectares of cocoa have already been planted and three hundred more to be planted this season.
He further stated that they are partnering with other investors to set up a chocolate factory in Sierra Leone by the end of this year for which they will seek advice and a smooth facilitation from SLIEPA.
Mr. David Karimu Dugba, Project Coordinator of Capitol Trading Company in Kenema, explained that they source cocoa beans from individual famers and sell them to Theobroma in Netherlands. He said they are at the moment working towards value addition by establishing a cocoa liquor factory in Sierra Leone.
The SLIEPA team also visited Tradin Organic, a company that buys and exports cocoa to Holland.
In conclusion, the SLIEPA CEO, Mr. Koroma, however, committed SLIEPA to working together with the various companies and the relevant stakeholders to resolve their challenges and to provide them the necessary support for their expansion as a way of ensuring their retention in Sierra Leone.