This will see USD 400 million to be invested over the next few years in the country’s Agribusiness sector. In keeping with the government’s drive to create employment opportunities for the people, 4000 jobs will be created through direct employment, contracting and out-grower opportunities that will raise the incomes of farming and rural communities.
In a statement at the signing ceremony, the Head of State said, “Never before has Sierra Leone witnessed such a large investment into the Agribusiness sector. Commercialized Agriculture on 30,000 Hectares (70,000 Acres) is new for us. Irrigation technology will play a critical role and this is something we believe is a great innovation for our Agricultural sector. Such large amounts of money and land area were normally associated with extractive industry in Sierra Leone, while this investment is about cultivation of harvesting of crops and manufacturing of ethanol for local consumption and export to Europe.”
This investment in the agribusiness sector of Sierra Leone, is in line with President’s Koroma’s commitment to an energy policy that will improve rural electrification and encourage independent power producers (IPPs) to participate in the country’s power sector.
Expressing his government’s priority to reducing carbon emissions, the President went on to say that “as a country that has been actively promoting environmental awareness and adopting policy positions that will help to sustain our planet, we are proud that this investment will help to establish a bio-fuel industry in Sierra Leone and to improve our environment. This investment will also see the production of between 15 and 30 MW of electrical power which will be exported to the national grid and help to beef up our power capacity.”
In reiterating his government’s efforts to diversify development opportunities in different regions of the country. Dr Koroma stressed that the investment is across sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Water, Manufacturing and Trade) and is a great example of how Government can work together to generate good and useful benefits for the people. And this is all happening in the north of the county which has not previously attracted large scale investment.
He told his audience that diversity of economic development is an important goal of this government and that his government is committed to seeing each and every district in every corner of the country have the opportunity to receive and realize large scale investments that will bring benefits to the people and not just a few.
The President also impressed upon those attending the ceremony that Sierra Leone offers many benefits to an investor – Affordable land; rapidly improving road transport links per our infrastructure program; a large deep water port which will soon be privatized to improve efficiency; strategic geographic location that offers low cost access to lucrative markets in Europe and the America Duty free access to US and EU; reasonable priced labour with a skilled workforce; and a government that is very strongly private sector oriented and willing to work with business for development.
In concluding, the President said that this is just one of many investment projects that are on the horizon, and that his government has proactively fostered the development of sugar projects and oil palm projects that will see other large scale investments of this type in the country. He also thanked Gandur for coming to Sierra Leone for this MOU signing and thanked Addax for their vision and for coming to Sierra Leone to do this investment thereby demonstrating confidence in Sierra Leone.
He went on to thank the communities of the three chiefdoms for being willing to receive this opportunity and working alongside the investors to make it a comfortable process. He told the team that their patience and commitment will be rewarded. Lastly, he said “Let me also thank the people on both sides who have worked on negotiating this MOU. It has been a laborious process with some difficult moments but today I am sure we are all proud as we stand here to witness the signing."
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.