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.