President Bio discusses Sierra Leone investment opportunities with Arab delegation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2019:

Yesterday, Monday 8 April 2019, president Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone held talks with a high-level official delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following his visit last month to the Arabian Peninsula nation.

The President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had urged investors to visit Sierra Leone, the natural resource-rich West African nation that is looking for genuine investors to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the New Direction government.

Welcoming the delegation, which included public and private investors, Chief Minister Professor David Francis told the potential investors that the country was an emerging destination of choice for Africa and other developed countries.

He added that under the leadership of President Bio the government would ensure that all investors and their investments were protected.

“We are proud of the bold steps and your initiative of coming to our beloved country to invest. Sierra Leone has been ranked as the third most peaceful country in the world. This will be backed up with the political will to ensure that you are not only protected but your investments were also secure,” he assured.

Professor Francis noted that he wanted those investors to be part of the drive to transform Sierra Leone, thereby turning the country’s challenges into a unique opportunity.

Head of the delegation, His Excellency Sultan Al Shamsi, who is the Currently, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs said he is happy to visit Sierra Leone and to bring along investors to explore possible investment potential in the private and public sectors.

He said that key areas of interest would be agriculture, education, energy, health, women’s empowerment through job creation and the empowerment of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“It is very promising and important coming here to Sierra Leone to partner with the government and find ways the two countries can make investment better. One thing that is important and fundamental here is the commitment by the government to protect investors and their investments,” he said.

President Julius Maada Bio welcomed and thanked the delegation from the UAE for their time and effort to come to Sierra Leone to discuss business.

“When we last visited the UAE in search of investment opportunities, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE assured me that he would send a delegation to Sierra Leone for this said purpose. I didn’t expect it to happen soonest. On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, I welcome you here and I pray that your engagements will be fruitful,” he told the delegation.

President Bio also told the delegation that the country is looking for credible investors who would explore the many opportunities of the country, through their various interests and assured of their protection.

3 Comments

  1. It is now common knowledge among corporate compliance officers that perform due diligence on third parties is a must for large organisations who want to invest in other countries.

    Still, too many countries continue to use a standardised, one-size-fits-all method to assessing their universe of third parties — screening all third parties against a set of databases, for example and dropping the ones that exceed some predetermined level of negative results.

    That approach inevitably causes errors in one’s perception of risk. Hence we see regulators around the world push companies to use a risk-based approach to due diligence. Their guidance confirms that different market segments and different parts of the Middle Eastern world carry different risks.

    Compliance programs in Sierra Leone need to acknowledge that fact too, and respond accordingly to countries who want to invest in Sierra Leone. That means certain business activities, parts of the world, or even specific third parties will require investigative due diligence: probing, thorough procedures that verify all the information about a company’s highest risk third parties.

    Rather than relying on a simple screen or self-certification, a risk-based approach like this, calls for Sierra Leone to dig deeply into their third parties. Why is the firm working with this customer? What is the purpose of the transaction? If the investing customer happens to be a business, who is the ultimate owner? If the customer is a person, where does he or she get their money from? What, has the customer done in the past? How will Sierra Leone monitor the customer?

    An ability to answer those questions is the foundation of an investigative due diligence program which Sierra should have in place. Some countries may fear that these investigative due diligence procedures bring along an enhanced price tag. Compliance programs that use a risk-based approach to due diligence can do the job, and in a way that does not have prohibitive costs.

    There are regions where sanctioned companies or oligarchs exist — Russia, Ukraine, Iran, North Korea; and more recently, Saudi Arabia — are obvious candidates for risk-based due diligence. The same is true for China and other countries with traditionally higher bribery risks. Sierra Leone can say the same for specific industries that regulate (financial services) or have an abundance of government-owned entities (defense contractors).

    Specific third parties can also call for higher scrutiny regardless of where they are. The reasons might range from past red flags and criminal offences to politically exposed persons (PEPs) serving in some senior capacity. The engagement also influences the risk level: a customer using a financial firm for a steady, predictable savings accounting is one risk; a customer using the firm to manage international wire transfers every week is quite another.

    My argument would be that it is not possible for Sierra Leone to prevent all abuses and corruptive attitudes by customers, unless Sierra Leone deliberately “de-risks” and refuses to do business with whole categories of third parties – say, declining any money-service business along the Sierra Leone-Liberia border, or any business with all citizens from China or Saudi Arabia. Regulators, however, a frown on de-risking, and the practice invites complaints from innocent would-be customers caught in the net.
    By
    Dr. E. L. Johnson Ph.D.

  2. so, one of the key areas, Sultan al Shamsi said, would be women’s empowerment!? May be with this he should start in his own country. And whats with democracy?

  3. God bless Sierra Leone.
    Thank god good Sierra Leoneans in believing in their country’s foundation of development.

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