Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 September 2019:
It’s been more than 15 years since the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war – and later a devastating Ebola outbreak – both of which combined to make an underperforming economy difficult to revive.
Sierra Leone has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Africa, indeed in the entire world.
Nearly two in three youths in the country are unemployed or underemployed. This reality pushes thousands each year to seek work abroad, often through irregular routes.
To boost youth employment – and combat irregular migration – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Sierra Tropical Limited (STL), one of Sierra Leone’s largest agribusiness companies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last week at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7) which took place in Japan.
The agreement stresses the need for Sierra Leonean youth to acquire the skills needed for the local labour market, through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), especially in agriculture and machine maintenance. TVET training materials will be developed by both parties.
“When opportunity, especially to go abroad, is presented, most young people seize it because they presume, they do not have better alternatives at home,” explained Sanusi Savage, Head of the IOM Office in Sierra Leone.
“Job creation for youth and capacity building are crucial for African countries, and this collaboration is fully in line with the objective of TICAD. We are pleased to collaborate with Sierra Tropical Limited and hope to expand our collaboration in other African countries,” added Abdel Moneim Mostafa Hassan, IOM Senior Regional Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa.
Sierra Tropical Limited was established earlier this year by Japan’s Itochu corporation, which acquired holdings of Dole Foods, one of the world’s oldest commercial growers of tropical fruits, especially pineapple.
Itochu has announced it will contribute to the development of the local community through the business.
Itochu’s $40 million plan to begin commercial production of pineapple in the Republic of Sierra Leone, follows similar holdings the company operates in Thailand and the Philippines.
Itochu has already started test production of pineapple in Sierra Leone, and aspires to commence full-scale commercial production as soon as it can.
Earlier this summer Itochu signalled its plans for human resources development with IOM. Its Sierra Tropical unit plans to increase job opportunities through the business, starting in the Bo District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.
In April this year, IOM launched the project ‘Reducing the Risk of Irregular Migration through Promotion of Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship’ in Sierra Leone.
This new project, which is funded by the Government of Japan, will contribute to youth and women’s empowerment through vocational and entrepreneurship skills training with private companies, mainly, Sierra Tropical Limited.
In 2017 and 2018, IOM assisted 1,492 stranded Sierra Leoneans with voluntary return along the main African migration routes.
This is another good news.If we can solved the youth unemployment crisis in our Sierra Leone,then the sky is the limit to what we can achieve,together as a nation. But why is such an important project being located in BO, a stronghold of the SLPP? Why not on neutral ground, not belonging to either the SLPP or the APC? Using politics to navigate investments is never a good idea.
Mr Wiecha – Its always a pleasure to have your presence on this highly respected Forum. You are like a light house,whose beams tirelessly swing back and forth, showing oncoming ships the way. Indeed,your positive,sincere comments clearly indicate to me,that you love and cherish Sierra Leone very deeply. Thank you Sir!
The Marmalade Factory is a great idea, and I would suggest that you write a comprehensive business proposal,highlighting the total amount of Capital investment needed to begin, expenditures to be incurred in administration,and sensible,reasonable, projections of profit margins,and lucrative returns to be expected in the years ahead. There are many people looking to invest in Sierra Leone,but most of them,not knowing where to start.
A solid proposal will grab their unwavering attention very easily. Again,this is one of the reasons why I am one of the biggest advocates for thriftiness in government spending – No needless waste of meager resources, or the usual over indulgence in things not urgently needed. With every penny being accounted for and saved, the coffers of government will always continue to overflow,and those excesses in revenues can be given as small business loans to industrious people with promising business ideas, like yours. Again, If this SLPP government was as smart as they claim to be, they will not be depending only on Foreign Investors to create jobs, but using their skills and ingenuity to create home based opportunities. I look forward to seeing if all the political rhetoric,deafening noises,and praise singing,will eventually become a reality..Rising Sun Will Rise Again.
Another encouraging news for our sweet mama Salone. However, judging by our past history, one will need to thread cautiously before jumping into celebration. Signing MoU and making proposal is just the first step, we need to wait and see until actual implementation is achieved. All patriotic Sierra Leoneans are fervently praying and hoping for things to turn around from the current hardship.
We have heard of too many proposed projects without any word of implementation on the ground. The Lungi Bridge Project, the mega-hospital project, the Airport Rehabilitation Project, now the IMO Private Agribusiness. It’s high time one of these proposals is translated into reality for the citizens to see that the administration means business.
Let’s start the implementation of at least one of these proposed projects in order to start providing some much needed employment for our unemployed youths. Time to move from policies on paper to programs and projects execution. The shopping is taking too long. Show us what you are doing, for real!
This is a good first sign to fight youth unemployment and to develop the countryside. It will make sense on the way of decentralisation in connection with building up middle sized regional centers, places with infra-structures like markets, schools, health care and also places for entertainment and sport. A small idea at the end – if I was younger and have the financial means, I would establish a marmalade factory for export and for Sierra Leoneans (after a while they will like it).