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Blue Crest College Gets NCTVA Blessing

By Abubakar Harding 

In what can be described as a blessing, the Blue Crest College Sierra Leone (BCCSL) on Thursday 30th March, 2023 received re-accreditation certificate from the National Council for Technical Vocational and other Awards (NCTVA), for the period 2022-2025.

The auspicious presentation ceremony took place at the BCCSL campus, 77 Wilkinson Road, Freetown. Present at the event was the BCCSL Rector and Principal, Dr. Shailesh Kumar, Dr. Abdul Babatunde Karim NCTVA Chairman, Komba Moiwa Accreditation Officer, Papa Njai MMTU Technical Adviser for Blue Crest College, Mrs. Bannister, a cross-section of students of the college and members of the press.

Before presenting the re-accreditation certificate to the Principal of the college, Dr. Abdul Babatunde Karim NCTVA Chairman took time to explain the importance of accreditation and why colleges need to ensure that they are accredited. He warned that colleges who do not meet the specifications of the NCTVA stand the risk of not being accredited or shut down. He commended the BCCSL Principal, Dr. Kumar for being obedient to the laws of Sierra Leone and for ensuring that he is in top form when it comes to performing his role as Rector and Principal.

Receiving the certificate of re-accreditation, Dr. Kumar thanked God, the NCTVA and the Government of Sierra Leone for the cooperation and support BlueCrest has received since 2014 when they established the college lead by Mr. Dev Varyani, Group Chairman . He informed his audience that the BCCSL is all about giving the best education to students for them to be able to make the best of life after graduation. He used the opportunity to commend the students for being cooperative and for studying hard to make the best of the tuition they are getting from the college.

Other speakers including Komba Moiwa Accreditation Officer and Papa Njai MMTU Technical Adviser for Blue Crest College made similar sentiments, reminding the students that they have a role to play in studying and obeying the rules and regulations of the college. They also commended the college administration for emerging as one of the first colleges which pride itself in constantly complying with accreditation rules and practices.

See next edition for more on Blue Crest College Sierra Leone.

Gento Assures Freetonians of Astute, Result Oriented & Sound Leadership 

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

Mohamed Gento Kamara, the well renowned and most endearing Mayoral aspirant, vying under the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), out of growing fear for his growing popularity,  has, of late, become the subject of seemingly real but bogus, misplaced and misguided lampooning by failed cowards as well as jittering opposition forces , who, out of fear that is driven by  paranoid and panicky apprehensions, have sank down so low and even going to the extent of cleverly fabricating grandiose promises of bringing down heaven on earth purporting, in a convincing manner through social media posts, that they form part of Gento’s manifesto; what he intends doing after being elected as FCC Mayor.

Using the Social Media, these fretful and cowardly politicians, hiding under the cloak of their supporters, have made baseless claims and circulated such far and wide that Gento promised free education at all educational levels when he becomes the Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC).

This medium is of the strongest conviction that such a bogus claim, when cognizance is taken of the huge costs involved, is not feasible or attainable  at this material time as it is deemed to be farfetched. That bogus deceptive claim was not in any way meant to enhance Gento’s election bid but rather to denigrate him by putting him in a funny position that will depict him somehow as a personality that does not keep to his promises.

Another of those fabricated lies that the spinsters have been circulating on Social Media is that even though he has not yet become Mayor of Freetown, Gento is so development-oriented that he already has his 100 days plan in office which includes installing street lights on all major streets In Freetown, from Upgun through Bai Bureh Road to Allen Town and also from Upgun through Blackhall Road to Calaba Town; from Upgun Kissy Road East End Police, Kissy Old Bypass Road to Allen Town, Upgun to Cline Town/Cline Town through Fourah
Bay Road to East End Police area; Siaka Stevens Street to St. John and all the major streets/important public places in Western Area, among other ambitious plans.

This medium, out of its thorough investigative skills has proven beyond all reasonable doubts that was never said or promised by Gento.

It must be noted that Gento is mainly focused and zestful of changing the face of the Freetown Metropolis but in doing so he will never promise what he could not deliver, this medium was reliably intimated.

Agreed that embarking on beautification of the city will obviously include the installation of street lights, however, such is not part of any laid down plan of Gento but understandably with time and availability of funds such a venture could be welcoming as long as such will help in enhancing tourism and also positively project the capital city’s image.

Having failed in their initial attempts, the political saboteurs have decided to make mountains out of molehill by giving distorted interpretations to a religious tolerant statement that Gento made at a mosque in Freetown last Friday but was contextually misunderstood.

Their interpretation or say misinterpretation of the Mayoral aspirant’s assertion that many Muslim brothers and sisters are leaving mosques to go to churches because they believe they will secure jobs and that the majority of the unemployed people in the country are Muslims, as him preaching religious hatred or division when in actual fact he was hammering home the salient point of love for one another regardless of religious orientation or leaning..

However, as Gento himself stated in a recent media programme if anyone misunderstood his message in the mosque and thought that he preached religious tension, he is sorry but that was not what he intended to do.

As a matter of fact he even told the congregation that him, being a Muslim, he will chose a Christian as his  running mate with the intention  of not only demonstrating but promoting religious tolerance which he  said must be consolidated as an important hallmark of the Sierra Leonean State.

But the family background of Gento even speaks loudly to religious tolerance as opposed to the contrary as he is a Muslim who is married to a Christian lady having a mother who is an ordained Pastor. The interaction among them has always been based on mutual respect and not their religious orientations or leanings.

According to Gento such acts of sabotage and vitriolic attacks are inevitable in any political race as they are concocted and unleashed just to score cheap political goals but merely considers them as mere distractions which will not take him off his course to deliver the city of Freetown from the clutches of greedy personalities who, as a result of their self aggrandizement instincts, failed woefully to provide basic social amenities for residents and make Freetown more habitable when they were given the opportunity to do so.

He made it categorically clear that he is not in the political race to display wealth or just for the sake of getting power but rather to better the livelihoods of Freetonians leaving behind enduring infrastructure and legacies that are deeply rooted in the genuine implementation of sound developmental oriented policies.

He has underscored, on various occasions, that when cognizance is taken of the fact that the vast majority of residents of Freetown are finding it difficult to access pipe borne water supply , sanitary conditions are nothing good to write home about, suitable market spaces are not available leading to street trading, the growing number of destitute and beggars becoming eyesores, putting up buildings in prohibited areas that causes floods and other disasters then there is a need to provide sound leadership in the Freetown City Council to overcome those challenges.

Gento has, on countless occasions, made it abundantly clear that for development to transpire there should be no room for nurturing tribalism or promoting religious tolerance. He still continues to call on all to be united at all times also constantly reminding that we must be each other’s keeper.

He said if residents of Freetown realize that Council is really working in their interest they will be willing to pay taxes including the local tax.

“It is simply because there is nothing to show as being done out of tax payers’ money that is the main reason why most Freetonians are unwilling to pay local taxes,” he convincingly intimated adding that when he becomes the FCC Mayor he will work assiduously to change that narrative and make people know that the payment of taxes is necessary if development is to transpire.

From investigations mounted by this medium it has become crystal clear that residents of Freetown are fed up with the infighting rocking the Council based on tribal bigotry and lack of cohesiveness brought about by the erstwhile Mayor.

Most individuals that this medium contacted said they have rejected outright the notion that it is only someone with a Krio pedigree that is only eligible to be elected as Mayor maintaining that such is erroneous as there is no existing legislation that sanctifies or speaks to that.

Some have expressed the conviction that democracy can only be seen at play when everyone is given the franchise; the right to vote and to be voted for.

The vast majority that this medium engaged said they have seen the light and come to the rude awakening that the only way out for Freetown is Chief Mohamed Gento Kamara adding that those sitting on the fence must make no mistake but to join the race ahead of casting their votes for the man of the moment.

Assurances have been given that indeed Gento will serve as a good Mayor whose name may have been destined to go down the annals of the country’s history as the Freetown Mayor who never let his residents down but rather worked assiduously to fulfil and translate their aspirations into reality as well as responding adequately by providing basic amenities in addition to the radical transformation of one of the oldest cities by making it a befitting metropolis and an envy in the West African sub region.

Victoria Mokuwa Wins Le Pageant de Afrique Competition NYU 2023 – 2024 Miss African

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The New York University held a beauty pageant on the 25th March, 2023 referred to as “Le Pageant de Afrique Competition” at the Einser & Lubin Hall on 60 Washington Square S, 10012, New York. In attendance were college students and non-New York University Students with college and State Identification Cards with Cocktails/ Refreshments served from 5:30 – 6:00PM and the event beginning at 6:00pm prompt.

The African Students Union of New York University organized the event in order to shine a light on the various African countries represented at New York University.

Six Contestants were chosen, based on a voting that was done by the students to compete for the title Mr. and Ms. Africa 2023 amidst live performances, explosion of talents and fun.

Out of all the contestants that participated in the competition, Ms Victoria Mokuwa, a student studying International Relations at New York University and represented Sierra Leone emerged as the NYU 2023 – 2024 Miss African. Upon pronouncing her as the winner, congratulatory messages started pouring in with many celebrating her success saying it speaks volumes of how Sierra Leoneans can accomplish big things.

Worthy of note is that the African Students Union is an organization created by the African students of NYU that exists to provide a healthy space for meaningful discussion, exploration and celebration of all things politically, socially, and culturally African.

It is dedicated to provide a forum for African Students, students of African Descent and students interested in the African Diaspora to come together and share their similar regional interests.

The Student Union intends to foster and promote the preservation of African culture within the continent through meetings and events while focusing on African culture specifically as they welcome people of all backgrounds who have any interest in the continent.

Of significance is that the Union strives to create an environment where people who are educated on African topics or wish to be can come together to learn, discuss, and have fun!

BBC Media Guide Names “The Calabash” as a Trusted Media Source of Credible News

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Calabash Newspaper was named among other media entities by the BBC Monitoring Press as one of the most trusted media sources of credible news related to Sierra Leone.

According to an independent assessment, Media freedom in Sierra Leone has its limits as media rights monitors say high-level corruption is a taboo topic.

It was stated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that despite a genuinely diverse media landscape “journalists are sometimes targets of arbitrary arrest and detention”. It notes that the main threat comes from “politicians who often use the police to try to control reporters or hinder their work”.

Also underscored was that challenges facing broadcasters include unreliable power supplies, poor funding and low advertising revenues.

There were also dozens of radio stations named, most of them privately owned.

The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) is the national state-owned broadcaster.BBC World Service is on FM in Freetown (94.3), Bo (94.5) and Kenema (95.3). Voice of America and Radio France Internationale broadcast on FM in Freetown.

Dozens of newspapers were said to be published in Freetown, despite low literacy levels and most of them are privately-run and are often critical of the Government.

According to Reporters Without Borders Poverty, irregular power supplies and illiteracy act as curbs on internet access as by December 2021 there were 1.04 million internet users comprising just 12% of the population (Internetworldstats.com).

The Calabash came fourth after Awoko, Concord Times and Standard Times.

Other media entities listed were The Sierra Leone Telegraph for print media and for the electronic media there were the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) – state-owned terrestrial network with limited coverage, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) – state-owned national broadcaster (Radio),Radio Democracy in Freetown, Kiss FM in  Bo, Skyy Radio in  Freetown, Capital Radio ,a private station in Freetown and Voice of the Handicapped in  Freetown

NP (SL) Ltd Offers Vital Lessons for any Successful Indigenous Business Venture 

NP-Sierra Leone Limited (NP-SL Ltd)

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In a very positive way, NP (SL) Ltd sheds a ray of hope for individuals who are contemplating and really on the verge of establishing business enterprises. The reputable importing and marketing petroleum business entity speaks volumes of how any ambitious group of Sierra Leoneans, with good initiatives and set objectives, could make major achievements when they come together and invest solidly.

Today, NP-SL is the leading petroleum marketing company in the West African sub-region simply because 35 Sierra Leonean nationals were determined, committed and shrewd enough to plough their end of service benefits into the setting up of the company.

Such a positive move or venture, if carefully emulated by forward-looking and ambitious individuals who are desirous of establishing successful enterprises could lead to the realization of fruitful dividends and deepen could best be driven by the private sector.

Though NP-SL Ltd is an indigenously owned company, however, its shareholders and Management are not afraid to take risks by venturing into various parts of the country. NP-SL Ltd believes in breaking new grounds and this has been the driving force behind its expansionist drive.

By taking risks new experiences are learnt as to how certain things better which in turn helps greatly in ensuring that effectiveness in service delivery is highly enhanced.

To make the purchase of fuel very simple NP-SL Ltd introduced the NP Smart Card, which enables organizations and individuals to purchase fuel at ease without using physical cash. By introducing this latest technology, it avails its customers the convenience of conducting smooth transactions at Filling Stations as long there is credit in the NP Smart Cards.

Making use of latest technological discoveries to enhance business transactions is now in vogue and for business entities that are nascent it is advisable , where possible, to make use of latest innovations to ensure growth.

If there is any company that strictly adheres to the Local Content Policy that entity is indisputably NP-SL. The Management always ensures, as a matter of policy, to give employment to only Sierra Leonean nationals. It is the same in all the other countries where the company operates.

Adherence to Local Content helps to reduce cost, instill a sense of ownership and improves competencies. Such could be well harnessed for the successful growth and expansion of any business entity.

Still within the realm of local content, the company manufactures a cooking device known as NP Gas which comes in different sizes. It has been proven to be a very good device which can be refilled with gas that could be secured at any NP Filling Station.

It has been established that using charcoal and wood for cooking purposes poses health hazards and depletion of our forests. Against such a backdrop many have commended the company for making it possible to get access to NP gas cookers, which are indeed safe and friendly for domestic use. Gas is as well available at the company’s filling stations which individuals can purchase at affordable prices.

Individuals eager to establish thriving business entities could really draw inspiration from NP-SL and if concrete efforts are made to translate them to the letter then dreams could crystallize to tangible realities on the ground.

Leone Rock Metals Challenges Government

Last week, Leone Rock Metals Company, a subsidiary of Kingho Rail and Port Company, officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CTC Mining Company, a Bauxite mining company in the country, for the use of the railway and port storage facilities, in contravention of the notice of termination of its contract by the Government issued recently to the company.

This action by Leone Rock Metals has been seen as an open challenge to the authority of the Government and a clear violation of the notice of termination issued to the company by the Government. It could be recalled that recently the Government of Sierra Leone, which is the Landlord and owner of the rail and port at Pepel in northern Sierra Leone, issued a notice of termination to Leone Rock Mining with its subsidiary, Kingho Rail and Port Company, which had earlier been contracted to manage the rail and port facilities of the Government and people of Sierra Leone.

The said agreement between the Government and Kingho, was for six years, but with a caveat that after two years, the said contract can be reviewed, and if the Government is not satisfied, it has the right to enter into another agreement with a third party. Now, the Government has signed a contract with Arise IIP to manage the rail and port at Pepel and to further expand same for other rail users to have access to it.

However, the said notice was questioned by Kingho and an insinuation that they were going to take legal action against the Government on the termination of the said contract. But, as we go to Press, no such notice of Court action has been received by the Government to warrant it to put any hold on the desire to continue with the new contract entered into with Arise IIP. Thus, the said termination still stands, in the absence of any restrictive order from any competent court of law on the action of the government.

Against this back drop, the recent signing of the MoU with CTC Mining for the use of the rail and port is considered null and void, and an open challenge to the Government and people of Sierra Leone, who are the owners of the facilities.

CSOs Call on President Bio to Give Assent to the Tobacco & Nicotine Bill

By Millicent Senava Mannah

Over fifty five Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) across the country have called on President Bio to append his signature to the existing Tobacco and Nicotine Bill, which was enacted by Members of Parliament in order to translate the bill into law. They made this passionate appeal during a workshop organized by FOCUS 1000 at the CCSL Conference Hall on King Harman Road on the 30th March, 2023.

It will be recalled that the Parliament of Sierra Leone unanimously agreed to pass into law the Tobacco and Nicotine Act of 2022 on the 3rd August 2022. It is now over six months that the Parliamentarians acted but people are yet to know whether the President have assented it or not.

Giving an overview of the Workshop, Sulaiman Stom Koroma, the Consultant and Public Officer of FOCUS 1000 intimated that engagement was organized to give the Civil Society Organizations an idea about what the Bill is about.

According to him, Parliament passed the Tobacco and Nicotine Act into law stating that according to the law, after Parliament passes a Bill, the approval of the President is needed before it is been used.

He maintained that, from last year to now they have not seen the President signed it into law further disclosing that when they enquired from Parliament they responded by saying it was sent to the President.

“We are in a position wherein we cannot tell where the Bill is, or who is in possession of the Bill,” he lamented adding how they could not tell whether the President has signed it or not disclosing how it is against such a backdrop that they are calling on these CSOs to join them in the fight.

He said the need to pass the Tobacco and Nicotine Act came at a time when the country ratified the WHO framework on the Convention on Tobacco Control which is aimed at protecting present and future generations.

During the engagement, CSOs had the opportunity to learn about key provisions in the bill.

Civil Society Organizations who witnessed the engagement made lots of positive contributions as well as a passionate call on the President to sign the bill.

The representative of Defense for Children said cigarette smoking should be banned once and for all further expressing disappointment at the security forces saying instead of implementing the law they are also into cigarette smoking.

He maintained that some of those who make the law are in cigarette smoking, adding that there is a high level of hypocrisy in the country. He promised engaging his congregation on cigarette smoking and the harm that are related to it.

The Institute for Governance Reform representative, Gabor Gervai, noted that people must not wait for laws to be passed for them to protect their own lives stating that Tobacco and Nicotine can cause Cancer and the need for people to desist from it. “Don’t gamble your own lives,” he admonished.

Lynton O. R. D. Jones, Esq, who happens to be a Parliamentary Counsel and Legislative Drafter, explained in detail key provisions in the Act that the importers and other business people must follow. Lawyer Jones also pointed out the penalties attached for those who may disobey the law.

Head of Communicable Diseases, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), Dr. Santigie Sesay revealed that tobacco-related products contain about 5,000 toxic substances, adding that the most dangerous compounds are nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.

Dr. Sesay continued that tobacco causes various kinds of cancer in the human body, adding that tobacco kills half of those who smoke it. He added that smoking leads to disabilities and diseases, noting that it is harmful to every organ of the human body. “For anybody who dies of tobacco, it leaves 30 people with a serious illness,” he disclosed.

Dr. Sesay also mentioned that 3,300 deaths in Sierra Leone are attributed to tobacco, noting that 900 of the above figures died as a result of second-hand smoking.

He revealed that 4,000 children between ages 10 and 14 years, whereas, 955,000 adults aged 15 and above use tobacco daily.

“In 2017, tobacco cost Sierra Leone’s economy SLL 403. 9 billion (15% of its GDP),” Dr Sesay revealed.

National Peace Matching/Walking/Jogging Day – April 29th 2023

On 29 April 2023, the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) will be organizing a National Peace Matching/Walking/Jogging Day under the theme “I STAND FOR PEACE”. This event is hoping to attract up to Five Million Citizens from all works of life across all 16 political and administrative districts in Sierra Leone. Participants will include members from the following groups:

  • Youth Groups
  • Women’s Groups
  • Market Women
  • Old Folks
  • School Groups
  • Football and Athletics Groups
  • Bike and Kekeh Riders Association
  • Ghetto Boys and Girls
  • Professional Institutions (Bankers, Lawyers, Journalists etc)
  • The Business Class (Mobile Companies, Mining Companies, Trade and Export Companies etc)

Prior to the event, IPCNC will engage Leaders of these various groups in all the districts and hold meetings with them to plan this Nationwide event. Some of the issues to be discussed in the meetings will include: Time, Assembly areas, Routes to be used, Security arrangements, Duration of the event, Logistical arrangements (Tee Shirts, Banners, Placards, etc that will be carrying Peace Messages).

On the Day of the event, IPCNC and Partners, alongside Security Personnel will accompany participants in all the 16 districts during the match/walking/jogging. Everyone participating in the event will be wearing printed Tee shirts with the inscription “I STAND FOR PEACE”. Citizens will be encouraged to come out with traditional social event instruments like; drums, trumpets, Vuvuzelas, Pot Covers etc, to make the loudest noise for Peace. There will also be School and National Brass Bands to accompany the processions.

The media will be invited to cover such events and broadcast through news bulletins and other media programs.

It is expected that there shall be a Presidential Address at the end of the Event.

SLeCAD Trains Agribusiness Companies, SMEs, and Cooperatives on Advocacy Skills

SLeCAD’s Executive Secretary addressing participants
SLeCAD’s Executive Secretary addressing participants

The Sierra Leone Chamber of Agribusiness Development (SLeCAD), with support from the International Trade Centre (ITC) through its West African Competitiveness Project (WACOMP), on the 22nd to 24th February, 2023, conducted three-day training for 30 Agribusiness Companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Cooperatives on advocacy skills and public private dialogue.

The training was hosted at the Royal Hotel on Magbroka Road in Makeni and participants were drawn from Kono, Tonkolili, Port Loko, Kambia, Bombali, Western Area Urban and Rural districts.

The objective of the training was to build on the advocacy and lobbying capacities of existing cooperatives, SMEs, Agribusiness companies and sector associations to improve on the Business Environment and Trade Integration for the Cocoa, Cassava and Palm Oil value chains in Sierra Leone.

ITC has been working in close cooperation with SLeCAD, an organization with long standing expertise and broad membership in the agribusiness and agriculture sectors in Sierra Leone and around the globe.

The activity relates to providing support to key institutions like SLeCAD in the provision of services to their members and engagement in effective policy dialogue with the Government on sensitive topics for farmers, producers and exporters including access to inputs, product inspection rules.

In his opening statement, SLeCAD Executive Secretary, Ahmed Nanoh welcomed participants to the training session and encouraged them to use the session as an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in advocacy, to ensure the improvement of the business environment and trade integration for cocoa, cassava, and oil palm that are key commodities for export for S/Leone that will create jobs and wealth, reduce poverty and enhance economic growth in support of the Government’s New Direction Agenda.

He said the business environment has a lot of challenges and red tapes in the Government corridors and that it needs high-level advocacy skills of the agribusiness value chains operators to unlock the Agribusiness and Agro-industrial potentials for the betterment of S/Leone.

“This could only change if the private sector continues to engage the public sector to bring the desired changed,” he stated.

He encouraged participants not to mix politics with business as it will always end to be a defunct business, adding that the agribusiness sector is the largest private sector in the country and if properly managed it would be able to create the needed jobs for the youths, and women in S/Leone where there will be no need for the citizens of S/Leone to go for greener pasture overseas.

He said should Sierra Leone manages the agriculture sector well the country will be one of the best economies in the sub-region, but said that could only be achieved through advocacy and public private dialogue.

He further emphasized that the training will also provide the  introduction to the principles and key functions of trade-related advocacy and policy dialogue, share practical examples on how trade-related advocacy and policy dialogue can contribute to improved livelihoods and performances of  members and clients, improve on participants’ skills to discuss key linkages between domestic business environment and international trade agreements, help to address opportunities and challenges for Sierra Leone’s businesses in the agricultural sector.

Siaka Kawa, ITC WACOMP National Coordinator, commended the effort of SLeCAD in advocacy and confirmed that ITC finds it vital to partner with SLeCAD to champion the training of agribusiness private sector companies, SMEs and Cooperative in the cocoa, cassava and oil palm to improve on the business environment especially in the area of export promotion and trade integration that will help the Sierra Leone economy to grow and reduce poverty.

He said ITC was excited to support the training since it will unlock the potential of the agriculture sector and promote internal and regional trade key to the economic growth of every country.

He encouraged the participants to be focused and take the training serious in order to enhance their business growth through improved business environment.

Fatmata Baby Sankoh, Coordinator for Kalamerrah Women’s Farmers Association, thanked ITC, EU, UNIDO and SLeCAD for offering the Agribusiness Companies, SMEs and Cooperatives the opportunity to be trained in advocacy skills to enhance the improvement of the business environment that promotes agribusiness growth.

She said she is coordinating over 1,500 farmers producing Palm, but stated that the value of Sierra Leone palm oil in the world market has drastically fallen due to poor quality and lack of improve processing materials. She said that there has been non check and balances in the supervision and regulation of the palm oil sector and making the country to lose huge foreign currency that currently is negatively impacting on the depreciation of the Leones against the US dollar. She concluded by encouraging all agribusiness private sector players to work with the Chamber headed by Ahmed Nanoh to improve on advocacy and make their business competitive and profitable.

Trade Minister Assures of Government’s Commitment to an Investor-State Arbitration Dispute Mechanism

Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy, informed participants at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Working Group III: Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform 45th session, that the Government of Sierra Leone is committed to creating the enabling environment to attract foreign direct investment and to protect investors’ rights.

The Minister also acknowledged the need for States to have the right to regulate and be protected to achieve the goals and principles of sustainable development.

“Sierra Leone welcomes the work of Working Group III, particularly on the structural reform option and the proposed establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court to address the current ISDS concerns. We also recognize the value of the significant work to improve the system through bilateral tools and incremental reform,” the Minister said.

Dr. Sandy also took the opportunity to commend the important efforts of the team at the Secretariat in increasing the profile of the work of the Commission and its Working Groups, particularly on investor-State dispute settlement reform. He made reference to August 2019, when Sierra Leone experienced its first investor-State arbitration dispute, adding that although the claim was based on rights held under a large-scale licence agreement to mine iron ore in Sierra Leone, it has been settled.

“It became apparent to the Government of Sierra Leone that the identified and considered concerns regarding ISDS, including cost, were real and impact paralyzing” he said.

The Minister said that the value of the claim was hanging over the Government like the sword of Damocles, adding that the cost of the arbitration, including fees for representation, adversely impacted Government’s decisions to assert a right or defence over the usual duration of ISDS cases, particularly for a least developed country.

The Minister went further to speak about the vital resources that are needed to be spent on development programmes to fulfill the development aspiration of the people, citing the flagship “Free Quality Education Programme”, to which Government has devoted over 21% of the national budget in past years, in commitment to Human Capital Development.

In his conclusion, the Minister stated that finalizing the Code of Conduct will be a concrete demonstration of the laudable work the Working Group can get done, working together on its important mandate on the possible reform of ISDS.

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