“Sierra Leone is Ready for Business”
An exclusive interview granted Nana Sifa Twum (African Echo) by Professor Septimus Kaikai, Saleone Minister for Information & Broadcasting
Six years after the civil war that nearly wiped away the nation of Sierra Leone, the country is now conducive for investment as a result of a vigorous recovery programme embarked on by the government.
Sierra Leone is ready for business and investment and it is the appropriate time for the investor community to come in to support us. The Sierra Leonean Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Professor Septimus Kaikai, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the AFRICAN ECHO in London.
Attractive areas open for investment include agro based processing initiatives, tourism and in the areas of mining. These areas are so much saturated with many competitors and the returns would be very lucrative ‘with low risk but very high and attractive rewards’.
Nana Sifa Twum (L) talks to Prof. Kaikai
He said the war did not in any way destroy the beautiful ecology of the country and that international hotels and other hospitality institutions could take advantage of that to invest in the country. Turning to the state of the economy of Sierra Leone, Professor Kaikai stressed the need for the country to speed up it’s dynamic development through the initiation of radical and human-faced social policies and programmes to improve the lot of the people, adding that ‘the world will not wait for us if we continue to fight among ourselves.’
Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war when the Revolutionary United Front
(RUF) launched its first campaign into eastern Kailahum (Sierra Leone) from Liberia in March 1991. Foday Sankoh was head of the military wing of the RUF that alledgedly included in its ranks NPFL members from Liberia and
Forced recruitment of children was also an early feature of rebel strategy. The intellectuals in the RUF opposed the methods being used, but within the first year of the rebellion these individuals had been eliminated as Sankoh took over the movement. Among the victims were so many civilians including several thousands of women and children. After the several cease fire events initiated by renowned international organisations in May 2000, a new cease-fire was necessary to reinvigorate the peace process Professor Kaikai, said that the government has not relented on its determination to ensure sound economic freedom for the citizenry. According to him the government measures has not only ensured improved national revenue but more importantly has whipped up the confidence of the people in their government.
Saleone is ready for business- Prof. Kaikai
Before the outbreak of war, corruption and mismanagement in the diamond sector was one of the main reasons why Sierra Leone became, according to UN figures, the poorest country in the world but today the story is different.
‘Diamond export earnings have risen from only 10 million dollars in the 1990s to a record high of 140 million dollars in the year 2005’. Professor Kaikai observed. ‘This was not an easy task but there was the need for us to do what is right by fighting corruption and all other vices in our economic streams’.He added.
With the breakdown of state structures and the effective suppression of civilian opposition, wide corridors were opened for trafficking of arms and ammunition and drugs, all of which eroded national/regional security and facilitated crime within the country and between Sierra Leone, Liberia and even Guinea.
He said the figure was expected to increase between now and next year because all the avenues for the smuggling of the commodity have been blocked. The youth who were also engaged by the warriors to fight in the war have been encouraged and re-engaged in meaningful and gainful employment.
A percentage of the income, according to Professor Kaikai, is committed to the development of the local jurisdictions of mining just to accelerate the pace of rural development.
He also expressed the optimism that, the government’s micro economic programme and other social policies to impact a high level of poverty reduction from 70 percent through the provision of jobs were on course. He said the government has provided funding and logistics for the youth to go into agriculture to cut down the rate of unemployment and also to maximise food productions and raw materials to feed the industries.
The Sierra Leonean Minister for Information and Broadcasting expressed the commitment of the government in a process to unify the people and work towards their general psychological makeup. He said the majority of Sierra Leoneans were traumatised
as a result of what they had to go thorough, the killings and personal loses.
The need therefore for reassuring the people was very crucial in national development. ‘We have also made some significant strides; our hospitals were either brought down or completely looted or destroyed. The roads were equally damaged.