The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) from 23rd-27th July 2019 paid a courtesy call on Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Local Council Authorities not to just probe local investment or economic opportunities, but to also strengthen existing collaboration and to record established investments operating in the districts without the knowledge of SLIEPA.
Giving an overview of the mandate of SLIEPA and the mission, the SLIEPA Manager of Investment Promotion and Team Lead, Mr. Hardy Jalloh, said the Agency is mandated by an Act of Parliament to facilitate investment and to promote export in Sierra Leone on cost free; saying that a more collaborative effort is germane to all because SLIEPA covers different sectors cutting across all MDAs. He noted that economic opportunities discovered during the mission will acquire further studies to be incorporated in the subsectors and packaged as additional investment opportunities to attract existing and potential investors round the globe. The Agency offers Aftercare Services to established investments, therefore the list of investments provided and the communities they operate will also benefit from this service, he concluded.
The MDAs and councils heartily welcomed the visit; among other things, the establishment of investments without observing due processes and the lack of effective coordination among relevant institutions were common challenges mentioned by stakeholders dealing with investment related activities; noting that networking helps mitigate these challenges, brings development and improves the lives of the people.
According to the Kono District Council Chairman, Mr. Solonon S. Gbondo, the District is not only good for mining as many people think, but it is as well viable for agriculture with plenty land to plough. He said Kono is the third District for livestock rearing and its soil does very well in plantain, banana, okra, pineapple, maize as new economic opportunities. He informed the guests that farmers get discouraged because they don’t benefit from sales of these products due to bad roads and lack of support for value addition.
Adding to the new investment opportunities, the Acting Head of Kono District Produce Monitoring Board, Mr. John E.G. Bangura, noted that Kono has rich soil for growing of ginger, cassava, and maize. He said they are working with cooperatives to produce different agricultural products and have already started processing plantain powder and garri mixed with sugar, coconut and milk, but the need for more support for a large production is a challenge he established with a conclusion that Kono District produces more cocoa than Kenema District.
Going further, Mr. Simon .D. Sam, the Tonkolili District Agriculture Officer, said their Ministry has tried to put some structures in place; explaining that out of the forty Agricultural Business Centers in the Districts, only four are capacitated. He said there are a number of rice farmers that need market linkages and capacity building on value addition, adding sorghum and sesame as emerging crops that farmers should be encouraged to grow in the District and they are growing onion, sweet potato and soybeans as a test case.Mr. Alimamy .S. Kamara, Deputy Chairman of Tonkolili District Council, also mentioned that mining and agriculture are the main focused of the District. He said in as much as the government is making gains, the education and health sectors still need promotion and therefore asked SLIEPA to remember them should investors show interest in these sectors.
However, Manager Hardy Jalloh, noted that the Agency will conduct further studies on the mentioned new investment opportunities as government seeks to embark of diversifying the economy and for a detailed information on them to be marketed as investment opportunities in the Country.