Japanese firm to create 3,000 jobs in Sierra Leone pineapple production

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 September 2019:

The government of Sierra Leone has won a major foreign direct investment deal with a Japanese company – ITOCHU Corporation, who has agreed to establish a pineapple farm and processing plant in Sierra Leone.

The first phase of this development will cost around US$40 million, which has already been approved.

More than 3,000 jobs are expected to be created by Sierra Tropical Ltd – the operating company of ITOCHU Corporation in Sierra Leone.

The pineapple farm and processing plant will be located in the southern district of Bo, where the company will package fruits for export to Europe, Canada, and the United States.

Speaking on the margins of the TICAD7 Summit in Japan about this much needed job creation initiative, president Julius Maada Bio applauded the ITOCHU Corporation, for its investment in developing the largest pineapple producing and processing facility in Sierra Leone.

President Bio said that ITOCHU’s investment is significant on several levels, and would help Sierra Leone increase its agricultural competitiveness and export capacity.

He added: “ITOCHU shares our vision that despite the narratives and misgivings about commercial investments in agriculture in general, there is indeed great promise, stability and profitability in investing in agriculture and investing in Sierra Leone in general”.

Explaining the importance of such investment in the country’s agriculture sector, the president said: “We envisage from ITOCHU’s investment, huge gains for value-chain addition, the opportunity for out-grower schemes for our smallholder farmers, and development of a local industry that supports the production, processing and retail to input supply chains.”

Last week, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ITOCHU Corporation and its subsidiary Sierra Tropical Ltd. to facilitate the financing of the project,

According to the IFC press statement published on 27 August 2019, the IFC CEO, Philippe Le Houérou, said: “The project will support Sierra Leone’s economic growth in the long term by creating thousands of new jobs and developing a long-term sustainable industry. It showcases how public-private partnerships can be effective in delivering greater impact in places where it’s needed most.”

Mr Yoshihiro Seki, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; Mr Ichiro Aisawa, Member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of Japan-African Union (AU) Parliamentary Friendship League; and Mr Yoshihisa Suzuki, President and COO of ITOCHU Corporation also spoke about the initiative.

In other engagements in Japan last week, President Bio held a series of meetings with several potential investors such as Mitsubishi Corporation and Nippon Foundation about investment opportunities in Sierra Leone.

During the meeting with Mitsubishi Corporation, the Chief Executive Officer of BBOX Mansoor Hamayun, spoke with president Bio about the possible expansion of electricity in rural areas.

At the Nippon Foundation meeting, Chairman of the Foundation – Yohei Sasakawa and president discussed capacity building of Sierra Leone’s agriculture sector.

Sierra Leone needs hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in key economic sectors, to create jobs for the growing number of young people that are out of work, and this investment decision by ITOCHU Corporation will go a long way to boosting foreign direct investments in the country.

17 Comments

  1. Will the President make sure that the PINEAPPLE PROCESSING PLANT be constructed in SUMBUYA? Most ideal area in my view. Another area would be BAUYA. DISCUSS.

  2. A good and better administration will benefit millions of her citizens. May God bless the “NEW DIRECTION AND PEOPLE OF SIERRA LEONE”.

  3. Hurray for Sierra Leone taking the journey out of darkness into his marvellous light. Long live our President the Right Honourable Dr Julius Maada Bio.

  4. The new direction is actually trying to make life for its citizens better. That is why the president is traveling the length and breath of the world. I wish you well in all your endeavours Sir.

  5. This is a glimmer of hope. If it becomes reality, the probability is high for other investments to follow, which will largely depend on the behaviour of the government in ensuring that there are not too many red tapes to overcome – a complete put off for any investor trying to get a foothold in a particular economy.

    Typically government ministries are the barriers in driving off investors or force them to curtail their involvement in the economy, in that by the time they are through with bribing one minister or civil servant after the other, their capital has been severely depleted. They then pass on the information to their home government that Sierra Leone is an extremely difficult country to invest in. And so their compatriots who were waiting in the wings to bring their money in, divert it to other countries.

    President Bio should therefore be very alert as to what goes on at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, never taking the word of the minister and his permanent secretary for granted. Indeed the President should consider reassigning the minister to another job within the administration and make himself minister of trade and industry to demonstrate that he is deadly serious about attracting investments both local and foreign.

    Such display of sensitivity will not go unnoticed around the world, where word will quickly spread that Sierra Leone is one of the most welcoming nations in the world in the investment arena, and that depending on the nature of the business one wants to set up, one could arrive by plane in the morning from London or anywhere and be in business in less than twenty four hours because the President of the country himself is in charge and he does not suffer fools easily.

    The Japanese have the third largest economy in the world; they did not acquire this status by any other method but by dint of hard work and foresight, especially when one considers the fact that it was a devastated country when the second world war came to an end with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans forming the background. We can learn a lot from them in how to turn an economy around. Good job President Bio, keep diversifying whom you approach for investment to save the country from being held to ransom by any one person or nation.

  6. President Bio’s travels to Japan in order to attend the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, in my estimation, is a necessary undertaking worthy of attending. The travel and the meeting may yield needed assistance that will lead the government to show, in due course, and in absolute concrete terms that the travel was indeed well worth it. In other words, to “bring home the bacon”, (in local parlance, to put food on the table).

    The President’s attendance with direct interaction with potential investors, are sometimes necessary, because of the prestige his presence delivers. However, in my estimation, the issue here is not about President Bio or his government officials going overseas on government business, per se, but rather the present economic and financial dire straights the country finds itself in, the so-called “Bread and Butter” issues that is creating all this fuss about the governments travels.

    If the country was in any better shape economically or financially, then who cares if the president is traveling all the time on business or otherwise, as long as the “bread and butter” issues are adequately addressed to the satisfaction of the people of Sierra Leone. See, a hungry man is an angry man, that’s what is been exhibited here.

    Recall President Bio has earlier invoked his executive prerogative to limit international travels by government officials, except when the particular travel is statutory in nature, the likes of United Nations, Ecowas, African Union, Mano River Grouping or some other absolute necessitated travels as he sees fit.

    The frequent travels are not the solution to the conundrum that has been the hallmark of Sierra Leone for such a long time.
    But rather the modalities that must be put in place that will eventually alleviate the country from a tired, poverty stricken, so-called third world country, to a middle class, vibrant nation that it’s citizens have been yearning for quite a while now.

    It’s not like people get used to been poor, far from it. No one, who wallows in abject poverty, is ever-comfortable living in it. Therefore instead of going on unlimited (junkets) travels to each and every destination of all kinds, and all conferences, (whose limited travels the president has rightfully instituted), governmental travels must also be limited to international excursions with a view of learning a thing or two about how to develop a country and what steps are absolutely necessary and which modalilities must be put in place to achieve such a pivotal goal (economic development) that the country and it’s people desperately needs.

    In this regard, a particular country, amongst others, comes to mind that I would recommend the president and his government officials must be visiting, either collectively, in groups or individually to learn how this particular country, which used be just like Sierra Leone, or worse, have picked up the pieces and itself, from the doldrums of dejected people to one of today’s much talked about economically developed country.

    This singular South East Asian country, amongst others, has patently manifested itself with the ingredients necessary for survival, turn-around and prospers in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. This country is none other than Vietnam.
    And today, Vietnam is attracting all kinds of investors, and investments, businesses relocating to engage in manufacturing and processing of raw materials into instantly usable outputs, tourism, and other services, and exporting those manufactured products.

    If American or European based service companies can utilize South East Asian citizens to manage service (Cell Phone and Internet) call centers, so can Sierra Leoneans who can manage American or European call centers as well. Think about this. With adequate training and education, Free Quality Education (FQE) or is it Quality Free Education (QFE), however you call it, it can be done in Sierra Leone. But first, an educated people. Hence, Free Quality Education. This could be a gateway for future business attraction.

    To be sure, I can state somewhat categorically, that the government has put some of the necessary modalities in place to achieve great things for Sierra Leone and therefore; the government is on the right trajectory in transforming the country,
    So how did this growth miracle happen in Vietnam? For one thing, it was not overnight. Matter of fact it took three decades to transform this agricultural based economy to a modem services and manufacturing economy.

    And Sierra Leoneans are already getting antsy after one year of Bio’s administration, one year of Finance Minister’s in office, and one year of the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone in office. Ridiculous. What folks need to, and must remember, is that Sierra Leone is literally starting from scratch with the Bio’s administration. Infact, Sierra Leoneans must count their blessings for experiencing such a patriotic governance, which seem to exhibit all the characteristics and trade marks of a government genuinely bent on changing the narrative of the country, not just a slogan, but with actual performance.

    According to analysis from the World Bank and the American based Think Tank, Brookings Institution, Viet Nam’s economic rise can be explained by three main factors: “First, it has embraced trade liberalization with gusto by signing free trade agreements with other countries, regional as well as internationally. It signed a free trade agreement with the US, and in 2007 it joined the World Trade Organization. Since then, further ASEAN agreements followed with China, India, Japan and Korea.

    Second, it has complemented external liberalization with domestic reforms through deregulation and lowering the cost of doing business. By largely eliminating bureaucratic, and unnecessary barriers of starting a new business, zero tolerance of corruption and or bribery, whose infraction could be met with the full force of the law, and above all, is enforced.

    Finally, Viet Nam has invested heavily in human (education) and physical capital; (building of roads, bridges; Lungi Bridge?, Community Heath centers, continuous electricity, Schools for neighborhoods’ children, instead of going far away to attend school, all this predominantly through public investments, not necessarily from donor funds, but locally generated, tax based levies, from businesses and taxes from commerce and services.”

    Vietnam has rebounded after the 20-year War ended in 1975, (Sierra Leone’s civil war was ten years), and nothing to show for after the end of the war. Viet Nam’s economy was one of the poorest in the world. Not anymore, after radically changing the way it does business and an unparallel determination to give its people a better life, the country is now a middle class, business friendly environment, with unlimited potential to even do more for it’s people.

    I leave you with this heartbreaking narrative from a President of a French speaking West African country, who assumed office upon the death of his father, who incidentally, or by design, (mostly by design), ruled this poor country for thirty, yes, 30 years.

    In an interview on Radio France International (RFI), he had indicated how shameful and embarrassing it is, particularly for the presidents to travel to the US, or Europe and some other developed country, and see from over the country’s cities while in the air plane, the lights and all, well built and maintained airports, roads, schools, and communities upon landing.
    But when you return to Africa, any African country, what you see is largely darkness. African must get rid of greed and corruption.

  7. Who in their right mind will not applaud any good initiative or job opportunities for our one and only sweet mama Salone? Irrespective of our political inclinations, I have the firmest belief that most Sierra Leoneans will cheer any government of the day if premium is placed in developing our country.

    So like many others, I am extremely elated for this wonderful news. My prayer is, may the investment promised comes into fruition and may our leaders do the right things to ensure that no impediment is created that will hinder the success of the Japanese intentions.

  8. Delighted to hear of Japanese investment in Sierra Leone. They are honest, serious, genuine hard workers. I’m pleading for our Sierra Leonean workers not to let us down. From pineapple, there is much more to come. Good luck.

  9. Michael Koroma, please read the article whose link you provided again. It says: “The new farm will be constructed within two years, and Agrotop and ISA will continue to provide management and know-how transfer services for ten years.” Many foreign direct investments don’t happen overnight. They take time to develop and implement.

    As in the case of the poultry, the article clearly states “within two years”. So some patience has to be exercised. President Bio is a resilient man. He is determined to turn the stubborn economy around.

  10. I personally believe that if the Free quality education continues to be successful, then our human capital will be enhanced, – then we can see what the Japanese government will do in our country in terms of development. They are the biggest investors around the world when you consider the amount of electronics and automobiles they manufacture.

    So having a credible government is the first thing they always consider because I suspect they gave some information to this government about past development projects, that they have sponsored which triggered the arrest of Dr. Richard Konteh of the APC.

    I hope and pray that the new direction will continue to maintain their credibility, because within the next 10 years I believe that Japanese investors will likely build an electronic factory in Sierra Leone which has the capacity to employ thousands of our citizens.

  11. Fantastic news. All the best from TOKYO to FREETOWN. Thank you very much President Bio and your team for securing this investment. What an ECONOMIC success by the Bio ADMINISTRATION. Whether you like President Bio or not, whether you LOVE SLPP or not, or whether you are UPSET because he does not come out to discuss the issues to bring understanding, this is a great victory for our COUNTRY, ECONOMY and our PEOPLE. LONG LIVE THE PRESIDENT!

    President Bio’s travel this time has brought a major breakthrough. 3000 jobs? OH BOY. That was unimaginable few months back.
    Has he proven his critics wrong this time around? Absolutely. Talking to myself. Good that President Bio and his team bagged this investment.

    I was keen to see/hear what President Bio got from the Japanese after hearing that IVORY COAST was able to get a deal with TOYOTA (to construct an assembly plant) and NIGERIA was able to get US$50 Million for some sort of MOU. With this breakthrough, the Bio administration has been saved from attacks from his critics.

    Finally, I thank the President and his team and pray that the ALMIGHTY GOD continue to guide and protect his efforts in bringing jobs to our beloved country. AMEN AND AMEN.

  12. If this becomes a reality, it will give much needed boost to the SLPP government. What a great and timely opportunity this is. They shouldn’t let such a mouth watering promise from the Japanese slip out of their hands. Now Ambassadors have to follow up and tie all loose ends, until all deals are finalized. Good news for Sierra Leone. Bravo, Mr President.

  13. Thank you Mr. President. We hope to see such initiatives come into our beloved country. May the Almighty Allah grant you all what you wish for Sierra Leone. Ameen!

  14. This is good news for Sierra Leone, if it comes off. I say “if it comes off” because president Bio has made several such announcements in the past – since he became president; and we are still waiting to see those projects actually taking off or in progress. Jobs, jobs, jobs, Mr President!

    Take for example the poultry farm that was promised by president Julius Maada Bio in September last year. This was a $60 million promised investment. I really do hope that these are not just empty promises that are going to leave our people very disappointed, hungry and angry.

    Please see link to the poultry farming story reported by this newspaper:

    https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/60-million-poultry-farming-investment-for-sierra-leone/

    Mr President we are behind you 100% but please don’t disappoint us Sir. We need the jobs very badly and fast.

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