Sierra Leone needs accountable and sustainable investment practices

Alpha Amadu Jalloh (The FOX): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 March 2024:

This op-ed emphasizes the need for accountable and sustainable investment practices in Sierra Leone, highlighting the challenges posed by opaque agreements, environmental degradation, and economic disparity.

It calls for a shift towards greater transparency, inclusivity, and long-term planning to ensure that investments benefit the country and its people.

Sierra Leone, a nation rich with abundant natural resources and potential for growth, stands at a critical juncture in its economic trajectory. Yet, despite its immense potential, the country has struggled to attract substantial investment that translates into tangible benefits for its people.

The current investment landscape in Sierra Leone, marred by lengthy bureaucratic processes, opaque agreements, and lack of accountability, not only deters investors but also perpetuates a cycle of dependency and underdevelopment.

One of the primary issues plaguing Sierra Leone’s investment climate is the protracted timeline it takes for investors to navigate through regulatory hurdles. With over two hundred and forty days required to invest, the process becomes burdensome and discouraging for potential investors.

In contrast to other African nations like Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana, where multi-billion-dollar projects thrive, Sierra Leone lags behind, struggling to attract meaningful investment that creates jobs and stimulates economic growth.

Furthermore, the quality of investments in Sierra Leone often falls short of expectations. While other countries boast visible infrastructure developments and thriving industries resulting from foreign investment, Sierra Leone too often witnesses substandard projects and agreements that fail to deliver on their promises.

The lack of stringent due diligence requirements for investors, including collateral, allows for the proliferation of “mushroom” investment companies that exploit the country’s resources without contributing to its development.

The consequences of these flawed investment practices are dire for ordinary Sierra Leoneans. Despite being blessed with abundant natural resources, many citizens struggle to meet their basic needs, with hunger and poverty rampant.

Families, especially those with school-going children, bear the brunt of this economic stagnation, as opportunities for upward mobility remain elusive. The disparity between the wealthy elite, often connected to foreign investors, and the impoverished masses continues to widen, exacerbating social tensions and undermining national stability.

Moreover, Sierra Leone’s natural environment faces grave threats from irresponsible investment practices. From unchecked sand mining operations to poorly regulated infrastructure projects, the country’s ecosystems suffer irreparable damage, endangering both biodiversity and the livelihoods of local communities.

The lack of environmental safeguards and enforcement mechanisms further exacerbates these challenges, perpetuating a cycle of degradation and exploitation.

The time has come for Sierra Leone to reassess its approach to investment and prioritize sustainable development over short-term gains. This necessitates a paradigm shift towards greater transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in all investment dealings.

Government leaders must demonstrate the courage to uphold the best interests of the country and its people, rather than succumbing to pressures from vested interests.

Moving forward, Sierra Leone must establish clear criteria and standards for investment, ensuring that prospective investors demonstrate genuine commitment to the country’s development. This includes rigorous due diligence processes, robust environmental impact assessments, and mechanisms for community engagement and benefit-sharing.

Additionally, the government must renegotiate existing agreements to ensure they align with the nation’s long-term development goals and prioritize the welfare of its citizens.

At the heart of this transformation lies a commitment to fostering a culture of accountability and transparency in all facets of governance and investment. By holding both domestic and foreign actors accountable for their actions and decisions, Sierra Leone can chart a new course towards sustainable prosperity and shared prosperity for all its citizens.

Sierra Leone stands at a pivotal moment in its quest for economic development and prosperity. By reimagining its approach to investment and embracing principles of accountability, transparency, and sustainability, the country can unlock its full potential and pave the way for a brighter future for generations to come.

The time for action is now, and it is incumbent upon all stakeholders, both within Sierra Leone and beyond, to rise to the challenge and seize this opportunity for positive change.


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