By Alim Jalloh
Over 50 investors from across the globe attended a 2-day Trade and Investment Conference held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Aberdeen, an event that was organized by the Government of Sierra Leone through the relentless efforts of Her Excellency, Agnes Dugba Macauley, Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom in collaboration with SLIEPA.
The program, which commenced on Monday 28th October and ended on Tuesday 29 October 2019, attracted business moguls in the country and frank discussions were held on various issues.
In an exclusive interview with Deputy High Commissioner after the program, she disclosed that the conference was a follow up of the June Forum held in the UK which was attended by President Bio and team disclosing how the investors who came were from the UK, China, Germany and Nigeria. “They are in the country to have first-hand information about the country’s preparedness for investment,” she intimated adding that the investors have various interests in the fields of Infrastructure, Fisheries, Education, Tourism, Energy, Agriculture etc.
“These investors wanted to meet and talk with the authorities on their respective areas of interests,” she also disclosed. She expressed pleasure over the presentation made by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Banks and other organizations.Her Excellency further disclosed that her relationship with Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora is cordial and they are thinking of forming an association to further trade between Sierra Leone and the UK. She added that she has been stressing to investors that Sierra Leone is not only ready for investment, but ready to implement what they entered into and is hopeful that the visiting investors will make up their minds positively, as the concerns among many had been the peaceful situation in the country, which is a prerequisite for investments to thrive.
Speaking on the measures taken by the Government in respect of foreign currency transactions in the country, the Bank Governor allayed the fears of investors that the moves were laws that were in existence long before the present Government took power and were being followed by investors. He further maintained that all investors following the dictates of the law have nothing to worry about. Sierra Leone’s fiscal policy is investor friendly. He stressed that investors can transfer their profits overseas and remit funds into the country but they will have to go through the banking system.
“The Government will not allow investors leave the country with suitcases loaded with money, albeit profits made. This is to ensure financial stability in the country,” he pointed out.
On his own part, the Minister of Trade, Dr. Hinga Sandi, said that the Government is not taking hasty decisions to get investors in the country, but is taking careful steps to ensure that the investors coming to invest in the country are credible and good and will provide job opportunities for Sierra Leoneans.
The conference is geared towards boosting investor confidence so that at the end of the day it will be a win-win situation for both the country and the investors. Sierra Leoneans will be able to learn from investors and be in positions of trust. He is hopeful of a positive outcome from the conference.