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Back to Growth: Sierra Leone Has Re-opened for Business

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

By Rebecca Perlman

For the first time since Ebola struck, the slogan “Sierra Leone is open for business” appears to be more than just an uplifting soundbite. With two major trade delegation visits in the past six months, several high profile international investment forums on the Mano River Union and a Post-Ebola Recovery Strategy that prioritises private sector-led growth, the signs are certainly encouraging.

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Ten years on from the end of its civil war, Sierra Leone was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. And it is easy to see why. The country’s shores are lined by white sand beaches rivalling the Seychelles, mining opportunities extend well beyond the country’s famous diamond reserves, and the huge potential in renewable and non-renewable energy was beginning to be realised. Taken together with largely untapped potential in agriculture and fisheries, one need not look far for investment opportunities.

As levels of inward investment grew following the end of the war, the Government increasingly found itself faced with what President Koroma has referred to as “a phalanx of lawyers and accountants on one side of the [negotiating] table, outnumbering our own side ten to one.” The impact of this imbalance between the Government and international investors has stretched beyond the boardroom to the very heart of Sierra Leone’s development agenda. Foreign investment, and the increased prosperity that comes with it, can help Sierra Leone reclaim the levels of growth enjoyed before the Ebola crisis. In the longer term however the Government’s focus on getting “a fair deal” in negotiations with international investors will be critical to translating wealth creation into sustainable, inclusive growth for the country as a whole. This was the case before the Ebola outbreak and it is all the more important as the country moves from crisis to recovery.

The role of commercial contract negotiation in advancing Sierra Leone’s development lies at the heart of international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF)’s Fair Deal Sierra Leone free legal assistance programme. Set up in 2010, the programme seeks to help redress the imbalance at the negotiating table and support the Government of Sierra Leone with increasing levels of inward investment. Over the past 6 years, HSF has provided more than £2million worth of free legal advice to the Government on commercial contracts, disputes, legislation and policy. During the Ebola crisis, this included pro bono assistance on force majeure and material adverse change issues as well as holistic advice on investor relations and crisis management. More recently, HSF produced Sierra Leone: An Investor’s Guide together with Standard Chartered Bank and Prudential plc. The Guide provides an independent, private sector perspective on Sierra Leone’s investment landscape with the aim of rebuilding confidence in the country as an investment destination.

We have seen that the right sorts of deals with the right kind of investors can support development outcomes from water supply to education and skills development. For instance, agricultural investments with smallholder programmes can both focus on skills and development training, and provide markets for smallholders, stimulating further production and helping commercial businesses reach more scale more quickly. One example is Carmanor Ltd, a UK firm which has invested in African Lion Agriculture with Sierra Rutile. Carmanor has installed a palm oil mill to mill fruits it purchases from smallholders that currently lack access to market and is developing a 13,000 hectare estate with port facilities over the next 10 years.

The post-Ebola recovery effort has emphasised the need for a strong private sector in Sierra Leone and the importance of the Government’s relationship with it. The Government’s renewed focus on improving infrastructure, broadening the tax base and creating jobs for the people of Sierra Leone reveals a desire to reflect on what could have been done differently in the period leading up to the crisis and to reclaim the country’s pre-crisis growth. In order to achieve this, Sierra Leone will need to rebuild investor confidence abroad and at home.

Promotion of the country’s investment opportunities is a good starting point. Recent examples include an investment forum hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November last year and the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA)’s new “Sierra Leone Back to Growth” investment promotion video. However investors will want more than an overview of the many opportunities within Sierra Leone. The investment framework and the perceived and actual ease of doing business in the country will be critical to increasing levels of inward investment and to reclaiming the trajectory set by the Agenda for Prosperity.

There does currently appear to be greater political will for reform in Sierra Leone. As one minister recently stated, “we should never waste a good crisis”. The Government seems determined not to do that. In particular, SLIEPA is looking to centralise the country’s fiscal and non-fiscal regimes into one easy-to-access investment code. The Government is also considering specific reforms to the agribusiness investment framework. Another key focus is on the standardisation of processes across different Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the development of model form documents for use in tenders and deal negotiations.

Sierra Leone now stands on the threshold of the next chapter in its history. Effective long-term investment will be critical to securing the country’s future and preventing history from repeating itself. International supporters stand ready to assist as the Government capitalises on the increased political will for change so that the private sector can come into its own in the long-term recovery effort, identifying and driving the opportunities that Sierra Leoneans and leading businesses stand ready to grasp.
Rebecca Perlman is a lawyer at leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). In 2014, Rebecca was seconded to the Office of the President of Sierra Leone through HSF’s award-winning Fair Deal Sierra Leone pro bono programme. Rebecca represents HSF on the UK’s City Ebola Taskforce, which was formed following a private sector briefing by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on its actions to support the Government of Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis.

The Taskforce has produced a new Investor Guide for Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the FCO, UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the GoSL. The Guide was drafted by a team of Herbert Smith Freehills lawyers, together with Standard Chartered Bank and Prudential plc, and was launched by President Koroma of Sierra Leone at the United Nations International Ebola Recovery Conference in July 2015. The Guide is available for download at http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/insights/guides/sierra-leone-an-investors-guide.

APC New Jersey Inaugural ceremony and Fund-Raising Dance on April 30, 2016

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

FLYER 2

At UN, Forest Whitaker calls on leaders to ensure benefits of global goals ‘touch everyone’

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocate Forest Whitaker, addresses the General Assembly High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the SDGs. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

 

21 April 2016 – Peacebuilding advocate and Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker addressed world leaders today at the United Nations, asking them to ensure that the benefits of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can touch everyone worldwide.

Last September, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which features the 17 global goals to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

As Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation for the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as well as one of 17 SDG advocates appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January, Forest Whitaker took to the podium of the UN General Assembly at the opening of a High Level Thematic Debate on achieving the goals.
The Agenda deals with hunger, eliminate it, eliminating poverty, educating our people, allowing women to have complete gender rights along with everyone.

“[I wanted to get leaders] to, in an inclusive way, have the people themselves help to push forward these SDGs, to give the individuals this concept that they need to have of empowerment to know that they actually can make a difference and make a change in some of these motions,” Mr. Whitaker said at a press conference.
Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, speaks to UN News on why it is important the Sustainable Development Goals are met.
His second objective, he said, is to get leaders to help “swarms of people” around the world come together to move the important agenda forward for the planet. Since founding his peace initiative, Mr. Whitaker has been involved in empowering youth, especially in Uganda, South Sudan, Mexico and the United States.

“The Agenda deals with hunger, to eliminate it, eliminating poverty, educating our people, allowing women to have complete gender rights along with everyone. It’s been an exciting time to be able to talk to [leaders] today,” he said.

“Throughout history and throughout times, it’s the groups that push things forward. Of course we have to have those leaders who will point a way, a direction for us to go, and then those others who are with them, to be able to push forward the Agenda and become the mechanisms that can make it work. So I’m very optimistic that we can do this,” he added, assuring that “we can make things happen.”

CULLED FROM THE UN NEWS SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambassador Afsatu Kabbah discusses economic, trade and cultural links with Ukraine

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner, Ambassador Haja Afsatu Olayinka Kabba meets with the Ambassador of Ukraine, H. E. Dr. Valerii Aleksandruk who is also accredited to Sierra Leone.
Both Ambassadors discussed bilateral relations.

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However, H. E. Ambassador Haja Afsatu Kabba spoke of the Economic, Trade and Cultural relations. She further told her Ukrainean counterpart of the stability of Sierra Leone with regards to Security and the conducive atmosphere of Investment. She also spoke of the Post Ebola Recovery and His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda For Prosperity.

H. E. Ambassador Dr. Valerii Aleksandruk promised to strengthened and double the Scholarship program for Sierra Leoneans to continue their academic courses.

He also promised to look into two (2) of Sierra Leoneans Studying Medicine and incidentally left Ukraine because of the Security situation then in that country.

By: Alusine Mohamed Fofanah
Information Attache
Sierra Leone High Commission
Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Logus blames envious detractors who are not happy with the peace and stability in the APC

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

By KABS KANU :

The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma,  yesterday expressed serious disappointment with  the dirty politics being played in the social media by detractors of the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) .

logus koroma

In an exclusive interview with the COCORIOKO Newspaper , the minister once again dissociated himself from an act that surprised many people in the social media when the minister’s Facebook account  was seen  sharing a very negative post that was levying defamatory  allegations against the Chief Executive Officer of Sierra Rutile Limited, Mr. John Bonoh Sesay and the Attorney General, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, two gentlemen that some social media commentators have linked with ambitions to aspire for the presidential flag bearership of the APC  at the forthcoming elections.

Mr. Balogun Koroma quickly responded  and denied  sharing the negative post . He complained that his Facebook account had been hacked by the culprits who shared the article against his party comrades.

Mr. Koroma told Cocorioko yesterday  that the aim of the culprits was to create division within the ruling APC . The minister stated that he could not have shared the post because first of all, the men involved were his bosom friends for whom he has the highest respect , and secondly, he grew up in the APC and knew that the issue of succession to the presidency was always decided at the National Delegates Conference chaired by the reigning Chairman of the party , who is also the Head of State.  “We have a process for determining the Standard Bearer of our party and it is by consensus at the National Delegates Conference. So, we do not need to fight. ”

Mr. Koroma also said that the culprits , who are detractors of the party, knew that he was the National Elections Coordinator of the APC and thus it was a plot to set him up against Messrs Bonoh Sesay and Fitzgerald Kamara, who are also his personal friends.  He affirmed profound respect for both men.

Mr. Koroma complained that there were people in the social media and the opposition who were not happy at all with the peace and stability in the ruling APC.  He suggested that these detractors “want to see the APC  torn asunder with internal strife and personal agendas as is happening in the opposition SLPP,”   but he said he wanted to assure every partisan of the APC  that the ruling party will never go the way of the SLPP. “We are a responsible and focused political party “.

He attributed the peace, tranquility and stability in the APC –which the detractors and opposition were jealous of — to the strong leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is also the Chairman of the party. Mr. Logus Koroma said that since President Koroma came to power in 2007, there has been unprecedented peace in the APC and the country, due to the strong and inspiring leadership he had provided.

“We used to have splinter groups under Presidents Siaka Stevens and Joseph Momoh, but this has not happened during the reign of President Koroma. There were students and labour unrests and even abortive coup plots but for 8 years we have been free from these disruptive events . We have peace at both party and national levels, so you can see why our detractors and the opposition are so upset and busy trying to sow seeds of discord and chaos in our midst”, Mr. Koroma emphatically stated.

I want the public to know that there is no power struggle in the APC. We are at peace and President Koroma is firmly in control”, the Transport Minister stressed.

 

 

Ministers/Deputies, Anti-Corruption Commissioner Subscribe to Oath

Monday, April 11th, 2016

 

By State House Communication Unit

Newly appointed ministers, deputy ministers and the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Thursday 7 April subscribed to the oath of office at State House following their parliamentary approval.

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The chairman of the ceremony Cabinet Secretary and Head of Civil, Dr Ernest Surur quoted Section 57 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, which states that duly approved ministers by the House of Parliament will only enter their official functions after they had taken and subscribed to an oath administered by His Excellency the President as inscribed in the Third Schedule of the said 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

Addressing the new ministers and ACC commissioner shortly after administering the oath of office, President Koroma reminded them that the ceremony has not only marked the end to the process, but also ushered in the beginning of their new assignment. He urged them to hit the ground running in order to live up to expectations of the people of Sierra Leone.

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He said before Ebola struck, Sierra Leone was considered as the second fastest growing economy in the world and now that the epidemic was over “we should work hard to move forward as a nation”.
The president ended by congratulating the new ministers and wishing them the best in their new assignments.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Ahmed Khanou, newly appointed Minister of Sports profoundly thanked the president for considering them among millions of Sierra Leoneans, and promised that they would not misplace the trust reposed in them.

President Ernest Bai Koroma Receives Sierra Leone’s Consul in India

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

By State House Communication Unit

airtel vp visitsHis Excellency President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma Tuesday 22 March 2016 received in audience the Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa who also doubles as Sierra Leone’s Consul in India, Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal at State House in Freetown.

The meeting was to inform the head of state about the current implementation of a $78m power transmission project in the country, the transformation of Airtel into Orange, among other projects.

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Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma extended his profound thanks and appreciation to the government and people of India for the warm hospitality accorded him and his entourage during the India-Africa Forum Summit held last year.

The president expressed hope that discussions and meetings held with business executives during the summit will be translated into good ventures, stating that government is working towards building a national grid to support other sectors. He encouraged Mr. Mittal to secure a package to look at the area of investment which his company is interested in.

President Koroma described the Airtel-Orange deal as a laudable venture, saying that there will be no vacuum as government is set to ensure that every partner complies with the law and do the right thing.

Vice president Bharti Enterprises thanked President Koroma for receiving him at State House after the India-Africa Forum Summit and announced the ongoing implementation of a $78m power transmission project for Freetown which has already been approved by the Indian Government, amongst host of other deliverable programmes for Sierra Leone.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr Samura Kamara, outgoing Minister of Information and Communications and now Special Adviser to the President Alhaji Dr Alpha Khanu, Minister of State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Mr. FBL Mansaray, Presidential Spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay and other senior officials of MoFED.

MRU Ambassadors to the EU appeal to NATO

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Three Ambassadors from the Mano River Union (MRU) States of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to the European Union (EU), have made a passionate appeal to the NATO troops based in Belgium to help the three countries build modern Military hospitals as a way of tackling disease outbreaks such as the rescinding Ebola virus disease (EVD).

ambassador ibrahim sorie 1

 

Hon. Ibrahim Sorie (Sierra Leone), Dr. Ousmane Sylla (Guinea) and Dr. Isaac W. Nyenabo 11 (Liberia) made the joint appeal on Thursday, March 17 whilst delivering lectures to the Special Operation Forces (SOF) team at the Chievres Air Base of NATO troops in Belgium.
The three Envoys were invited as Special guests to provide orientation on the EVD in the West Africa sub-region with special emphasis on how it started, it causes, effects and impact on the political, economic and social lives of the citizens.
In their presentations, the Ambassadors catalogued the roles and responses from international organisations such as the UN, WHO, UNICEF, UK, USA, France and EU towards the Ebola fight in their respective countries as well as the impact of the military assistance in the fight to defeat the virus.

The trio also outlined their respective countries’ post-Ebola recovery plans as specified by the governments of the three countries that were mostly devastated by the disease.

The Ambassadors further appealed to the NATO contributing countries to help in advocating for a debt relief for the three countries.
“Our economies were doing well before the outbreak of Ebola. However, all those economic gains were mercilessly battered during the Ebola crisis with the closure of businesses and mining companies, thereby rendering thousands of citizens unemployed. Our governments are now fighting hard to stabilize the situation, but will find it extremely difficult to implement the post-Ebola recovery plans at the same time servicing international debts”, the Envoys appeal.

Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the MRU States, Ambassadors of the three countries in Brussels have been working collectively to mobilise international support which eventually culminated to the March 3rd and July Ebola conferences in Brussels and Washington respectively.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), is a military alliance of European and North American democracies founded after the Second World War to strengthen international ties between member states especially the United States and Europe. At present, NATO consists of 30 contributing countries.

By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Head of Media & Public Affairs Dept.
Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone,
Kingdom of Belgium (Brussels) /EU.

At CSW Session at the UN : “We should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies”

Friday, March 18th, 2016

16 March 2016, New York) During a public conversation at UN Headquarters today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka called on global leaders to do more to ensure gender equality and promote women’s empowerment.

“For me, it’s just really obvious. We should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies—duh!… I take the positive attention that we’re getting right now as an encouragement to be making sure that we are doing even more and indeed participating in a global movement to address this in every country around the world at the same time,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “This needs to be seen not as a women’s movement but as a global movement… We need to challenge folks to step up.”

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets U.S. football icon Abby Wambach at UN Women’s High-Level Event on Gender Equality and Global Call to Action on Equal Pay. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
A self-proclaimed feminist, he gained global acclaim for his matter-of-fact response to a question about why he appointed a gender-equal Cabinet last year: “Because it’s 2015.” At the high-level event today, Prime Minister Trudeau explained that in order to be able to appoint such a cabinet, his team deliberately sought out women to come forward as candidates. He also stressed continued efforts to retain women in leadership and foster better work-life balance in the workplace.

“To any world leader that tells me: ‘I’d love to, I just can’t do that with the current configuration’… I say ‘Well, what are you doing to change that configuration and draw out those extraordinary women who can’t be the leaders we need them to be’?” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “This is the way the world needs to go and this is the way we’re going make it go—together.”

During the intimate and candid conversation, he said Canada still needs to do more to reduce wage inequality and confront violence against women, particularly against indigenous women. UN Women’s Executive Director stressed the importance of national legislation to end discrimination, achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and strong leadership “to dramatically change the landscape”.

“We insist in UN Women that the struggle for gender equality is not just for women—it is for everybody, and those with authority and power, especially; they must lead from the front,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The Prime Minister had the authority to appoint a 50-50 cabinet. Leaders must use the authority that they have.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an “Armchair Conversation on Gender Equality” on 16 March 2016. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an “Armchair Conversation on Gender Equality” on 16 March 2016. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Stressing the importance of engaging more men on gender equality, Prime Minister Trudeau said: “Why is it that every time I say I’m a feminist, Twitter explodes and news media’s feeds pick up? It shouldn’t be something that creates a reaction.”

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka thanked the Canadian Prime Minister for his feminist leadership and ceremoniously pinned him as the newest champion of UN Women’s signature HeForShe campaign, which seeks to engage more men for gender equality. “This fight is big; it needs to be diversified; and mobilizing and working with men and boys has been a critical strategy for UN Women,” she said.

Moderated by Sade Baderinwa, Emmy Award-winning journalist of WABC Channel 7, the discussion was the first segment of a two-part high-level event on Gender Equality and Global Call to Action on Equal Pay organized by UN Women during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60).

The second part featured video messages from Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, and Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, and a lively discussion among panelists Renana Jhabvala, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Jill Shenker, International Organizing Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Abby Wambach, Olympic gold medalist, Women’s World Cup winner and U.S. football icon.

Echoing Prime Minister Trudeau and Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka on the need for joint efforts, Ms. Wambach said: “We all just have to come together to fight this battle, to have one giant voice, and we can actually make more policy to make sure that none of these injustices continue to happen.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets U.S. football icon Abby Wambach at UN Women’s High-Level Event on Gender Equality and Global Call to Action on Equal Pay. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Students and Administration Must Remain Engaged – President Koroma

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

 

By State House Communication Unit

On Wednesday 16 March, student representatives from Fourah Bay College (FBC), National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS) and senior members of the college administration had the opportunity to meet with President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma to discuss their concerns following a protest staged by the students, calling on the administration to address issues of registration, accommodation, social facilities on campus, transcripts among others. The president urged the college administration as well as students to remain engaged in order to amicably address the concerns of students as well as seeking their welfare and access to quality education.

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President Koroma admonished the students to develop sterling character that should be integral to their academic pursuit and also ensure that they comply with the rules and regulations of the university. He reaffirmed government’s commitment to improving the educational sector by increasing support to universities and schools, increasing government Grant-in-aid support to 70% and every other aspect of the educational sector. With this, the president expressed hope that the students will go ahead with their registration, pay 50% of the remaining 30% of fees that should be paid by them and further hold detailed deliberations on the overall concerns and issues highlighted.

Infrastructure, he said, has been a major challenge but assured that the BADEA project which will start soonest would address the issues of accommodation and provide adequate classrooms for students. He urged the college administration to fast track some of the action points and work as quickly as possible to improve facilities that are required for a conducive learning environment.

Prior to the president’s intervention, there were resolutions reached during a pre-meeting with student leaders, FBC administration, the Minister of Education, the Secretary to the President, the newly appointed ministers of Youth Affairs and Information and Communication that the students have been given an additional week for registration coupled with the two weeks earlier given. This would now mean that the deadline for registration will be on the 1st April 2016. Added to this, 50% of payment of tuition fees should be made, and Dr Minkailu Bah clarified that students with two trailers should only pay for the two modules failed and not to pay for the entire year.

It was also resolved that government will also fast track the implementation of the BADEA project. The administration also put together a proposed governance structure for students which will be dialogued by both parties. It was also agreed that by April, students would be given the opportunity to form student representation on campus.

http://www.statehouse.gov.sl/…/1483-students-and-administra…