Sierra Leone & Finland End Successful Investment Forum

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

It could be recalled that this medium reported in one of its recent editions that the first Sierra Leone Finland Investment Forum commenced on the 11th October, 2022 and ended on the 12th October, 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. Organized by the Sierra Leonean Consular Office in Finland, the Sierra Leone/Finland Investment Forum provided an opportunity to hear about Sierra Leone’s business environment and current business opportunities and to meet Sierra Leonean companies and Government representatives.

Even as HE President Julius Maada Bio was taking the kickoff to mark the start of Sierra Leone’s first ever Women’s Premier League football tournament, in a historic ceremony held on the grounds of Makeni’s Wusum Field over the weekend, a strong Sierra Leonean contingent was heading back home to Freetown.

They had just attended a major three-day summit with their Finnish counterparts in Helsinki, Finland.

The high powered  delegation which was led by the Hon Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security,  Abubakarr Karim, also included personalities like Ambassador Bond Wurie, Special Adviser to H.E. President Julius Maada Bio; Mrs. Yvonne King-Odigboh, Sierra Leone’s Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Bockarie Kalokoh, Deputy Minister 2, Ministry of Finance; Emily Gogra, Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education; Prof. Maada Mustapha, Head of National Investment Board and Dr. Dauda Kuyateh, Director of Private Sector Development Unit at the Ministry of Finance.

Also participating in the summit were senior representations from Trade and Investment, Office of the Vice President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and from the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce.

On the Finnish side were Ministers and other senior Government officers heading critical departments. These included the Finish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The discussions which centred around promoting cooperation between the two countries, in identified areas, were geared towards supporting the New Direction Government of President Julius Maada Bio in driving forward Sierra Leone’s Mid and Long term National Development Plans. The broader goal, as reiterated at the summit, is to build a resilient trade and viable economic relationship between Sierra Leone and Finland.

The keynote speaker at the event was the Finnish Under Secretary of State for External Economic Relations, Nina Vaskunlahti, who underscored the necessity as well as the benefits of the two countries working together to promote mutual interests within the practical framework of positive agenda items.

The docket of the three-day program largely revolved around the theme of education and supporting efforts in that direction, including possibilities of assisting in the school meals project and teacher training programs. Also high on the agenda was the need of working together to explore and promote investment opportunities in healthcare and tourism.

The speakers looked at the key challenges in all the identified areas, against the backdrop of pertinent lessons learnt from the COVID- 19 pandemic situation.

They acknowledged the serious challenges posed by the effects of the Global Climate Change and proposed ways to assist with the adaptation of people, places and systems to the evolving realities

The participants additionally mapped out courses of action to speedily translate the various discussion points into practical end results.

In fact, even as the three-day summit ends, pursuing the submitted initiatives is set to vigorously continue in different formats on various related platforms as all parties work towards ensuring the marriage of discussion points to tangible policy initiatives, guaranteeing final implementations on agreed areas.

On Tuesday 18th October 2022, for example, the Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Emily Gogra, participated in the First Ministerial Meeting on “the Schools Meals Coalition” in Helsinki. The opening remarks for that occasion were delivered by Ville Skinnari, the Finnish Minister for Development and Foreign Trade.

The rationale of the first Ministerial meeting on ‘School Meals’ was firmly predicated on the increasing realization that the current global living cost crisis poses the potential of putting the education of millions of children at risk. School meals have been internationally identified as “multi-sectoral game changers” in helping to ensure enrolments and maintain healthy attendance.

It is hearty to note that the international community is visibly moving towards the policy positions so readily adopted by the New Direction Government of President Julius Maada Bio who has all along underscored the importance of strengthening education as a means of effectively developing Sierra Leone’s Human Capital.

It is easy to see why global partners are increasingly warming up to Sierra Leone and why they are happy to support the sound policy initiatives of President Julius Maada Bio.

Mr. Sorie Obai Kamara, a long term resident of Finland and the head of the Sierra Leone Consulate Planning Team, played a vital role in facilitating this summit.



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