Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 September 2018:
President Julius Maada Bio wooed investors at the opening ceremony of the 4th Investing in Africa Forum held in Changsha, Hunan Province, where he told business leaders that Sierra Leone is now open for Business.
Addressing hundreds of participants across Africa, China, Europe, United States and Asia last Thursday, 6th September 2018, president Bio said: “This Forum is a unique platform for policy dialogue and knowledge exchange, mobilizing investment and facilitating trade.”
President Bio told the business leaders that as a new government nothing could be more exciting than addressing investors about the continent and Sierra Leone.
Highlighting the huge potentials for investment in Africa, President Bio said: “African continent which accounts for about 13% of the world’s population is endowed with vast arable land, conducive for agriculture, huge deposits of extractives including minerals, gas and oil, holistic and attractive destinations for tourism, large coastline with substantial fish stock, young and capable labour force and growing middle income class.”
Despite these potentials, President Bio stated that according to the World Investment Report, Africa attracts less than 3% of global Foreign Direct Investment compared to 49.8% share for developed economies, 33.3% for developing Asia and 10.6% for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Worse still, Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Africa dropped by 21.5% from US$53 billion in 2016 to US$42 billion in 2017,” president Bio said.
Even though the Forum was about investing in Africa, President Bio also used the opportunity to market Sierra Leone to the investors.
A very persuasive and confident President Bio told the audience: “My country Sierra Leone with total population estimate of 7.1 million has huge potential for investment. It is peaceful and democratic; has vast arable land for farming; enormous deposits of minerals including diamonds, gold, rutile, bauxite, iron ore etc; great potential for oil and gas; large coast with huge potentials for fisheries; rich tourist attractions such as beaches; conducive weather; youthful and capable labour force; robust policy, regulatory and legal framework and above all, a determined political leadership to promote private sector investment.”
Determined to attract investors to Sierra Leone, president Bio concluded his address with an invitation to investors: “I will therefore like to inform you that Sierra Leone is now open for business and assure you of my Government’s determination to creating the enabling environment for private investment.
“I particularly look forward to investments in infrastructure, agriculture, marine resources and tourism in order to diversify the economy.”
President Julius Maada Bio and president Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo were the only two Heads of State invited to address the investing in Africa Conference in Changsha, Hunan Province, China.
The invitation of president Bio demonstrated that in less than six months in office, he has not only demonstrated leadership on the Africa Continent but also shown economic discipline in governance that is enviable.
Other speakers at the Investing in Africa Forum included the Vice Minister of Finance, China, Vice Chairman of China Development Bank, Vice President of World Bank – Africa Region.
The 4th Investing in Africa Forum was organized by China’s Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, The World Bank Group and the Hunan Province of China.
President Julius Maada Bio was accompanied to the opening ceremony by his wife Mrs Fatima Bio, Chief Minister – Professor David J Francis, Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa, and other senior government ministers.