Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 October 2019:
Yesterday, Thursday, 24 October 2019, President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone addressed potential investors at the Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi, where he assured business leaders that Sierra Leone is a perfectly conducive ecosystem and destination for credible business investments.
The President said that resource-rich Sierra Leone has lots of potential for investors looking for value-adding processing opportunities, and is open for business. He assured investors of the safety of their investments, and repatriation of well- earned profits from what he described as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa today.
The President said that his government is offering predictable package of incentives and aftercare for new businesses to start and grow.
He said that Sierra Leone is seeking to establish close and meaningful partnerships to collaborate in delivering the government’s economic and human capital development programmes – education, healthcare, and food production.
Sierra Leone, he pointed out, is looking to strengthen and deepen existing collaborative ties, based on mutual trust and respect.
Speaking about Africa’s relationship with Russia, President Bio said: “Africa and Russia share a strong sense of history and solidarity. Russia’s long history of bilateral cooperation and technical assistance has transformed the lives of millions of Africans throughout the post-independence period. Africa and Russia are at the threshold of negotiating a new and promising relationship.
“Africa offers an increasingly integrated market of 1.2 billion people; largely untapped mineral, hydrocarbon, and fisheries resources; investment opportunities in tourism, infrastructure and agriculture, and a talented youthful population eager to explore the power of science and technology, and innovation for development. This is the new Africa at peace: integrated, and brimming with an opportunity that is open to Russia; and which our individual governments are working hard to develop,” he said.
As Coordinator of the Committee of Ten African Heads of State, President Bio also used the opportunity to reiterate that Africa is firmly committed to the common African position on the reform of the United Nations Security Council. He said he anticipates further discussions with the Russian Federation on the all-important issues in its relations with African states.
“Russia Federation has been a very good friend of Africa and we look forward to lowering all barriers to our relations, while forging innovative, bolder, but closer and mutually beneficial relations. As a continent and as a country, Sierra Leone looks forward to consistent and enduring partnerships with the Russian Federation,” president Bio concluded.
In his welcome address, the summit host – President Vladimir Putin, said that promoting economic opportunities is central to the building of Russia’s relationship with African countries.
He said that developing closer business ties would serve common interests, contribute to the sustainable growth of all countries, help to improve quality of life and solve numerous social problems.
He noted that a lot of efforts had gone into preparing for the Africa-Russia Forum, and that several events have been held over the past year, in promoting specific areas of Russian-African cooperation .
African countries, Putin said, are becoming increasingly attractive for Russian businesses because Africa is fast becoming a global economic growth centre.
“Integration processes unfolding in Africa provide additional opportunities for cooperation. We welcome the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as part of the African Union and are willing to work with this new entity. We support establishing close working contacts between the EU Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission. As an active participant in the EAEU, Russia will do its best to facilitate the convergence of trade regimes in the African Free Trade Area and the EAEU common market,’’ he assured.
Chairman of the African Union – President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who also serves as Co-chair of the Forum, said he is highly appreciative of the attention given by the Russian Federation to strengthening cooperation between Russia and Africa.
He said that the Africa-Russia Forum is a platform aimed at promoting investments and cooperation, and commended the Russian Government for organising the Forum.
The two-day forum, which ended yesterday, marked an important and much-anticipated milestone in laying the foundation for the promotion and enhancement of trade and economic relations between African economies and Russia.