The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has on the 16th July 2019 ended a nationwide aftercare visit with the support of the Small Holder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP). The aftercare visit covered the Northern, Eastern and ended in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.
During her presentation, the SLIEPA Manager of Aftercare and Event Management, Mrs. Sally Sullaiman-Gassama, said the CEO, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, set up a dedicated Aftercare Unit in SLIEPA to look into the affairs of existing investments in the Country. She said SLIEPA wants to sell the story of existing investments as a testament that the Sierra Leone Government under the New Direction is ready to protect them; ensuring a conducive business environment. Hence the reason for the nationwide aftercare visit; not to only record the challenges they incur, but to also have a holistic update of their businesses and to strengthen the existing relationship and collaboration between them and SLIEPA going forward.
She added that the challenges presented to SLIEPA by various companies nationwide, have to be documented to engage the relevant stakeholders for a dialogue leading to a win-win resolution.
Among other things, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, earlier expressed much concern towards the relationship between the companies and the communities where they operate, saying that for sustainable and progressive investment and community development, there must be a cordial relationship and collaboration between the two parties. He said the hypothesis of the aftercare visit is to ensure a smooth, sustainable and profitable existing investments geared towards achieving the 2019-2023 Sierra Leone National Development Plan.
The SLIEPA Acting Director of Investment Promotion, Mr. Victor Bangura, reiterated the need for a cordial relationship between the companies and SLIEPA and also admonished them to continue being on a good footing with their host communities as social impact investments.
Giving an update, Mr. Brima Kpakra, Operations Manager of West Africa Rice Company (WARC), was established in Torma Bum, South of Sierra Leone in 2012; noting that they are primarily a cultivating and processing rice company, but they as well plant maize, sorghum, runner beans and beans; having one hundred and twenty permanent workers and six hundred out growers. He said their farm covers three thousand hectares and produces 2000 metric tons of rice, 800 metric tons of maize, 20 metric tons of sorghum, 10 metric tons runner beans and 10 metric tons of beans all with thirty percent growth annually, sold in the local market.
Mr. Jorge Lopez Menendez, WARC General Manager noted their relationship with the community people as cordial. He said Sierra Leone needs more investors to invest in rice production for domestic use and export as the country is blessed with vast arable land. He noted the need for more finance, tractors and duty waivers as their main challenges.
Mr. James Momoh Admin and finance Officer of Family Poultry in Bo, stated that they have one thousand two hundred and seventy five layers that lay eggs on daily basis. He said the major challenges they had in feeding for the birds and poultry houses had been significantly addressed by SCADeP; noting that with its support, they are now working with three hundred and fifty out growers working on seven hundred acres of corn in Moyamba District. He noted the need for corn thresher, additional store facility and access to fertilizer as their challenges.
SLIEPA also visited Paramount Chief Victor Brima Kebbie of Sahn-Malen Chiefdom together with his chiefdom authorities and later to Mr. Philip Tonks, the General Manager of Socfin Agricultural Company where they provided SLIEPA with status report including the challenges affecting the company and the communities.
Other companies visited were Sierra Tropical limited (STL) in Sumbuya Lugbu, and Natural Habitats in Zimi Makpele.