Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 March 2019:
Sierra Leone’s vice president Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has announced major changes which the Bio led government will soon be implementing to boost tourism and other key sectors of the economy.
Visiting Njala University last week, the vice president spoke about the government’s intention to put university education at the centre of government’s drive to improve the country’s workforce and bridge skills gap.
He said that the government will increase university budgets so as to improve not only the buildings and facilities, but to improve learning, research and innovation. Universities are a major component of nation building, because they play a leading role in research and development.
Vice president Jalloh also spoke about the potential of the marine sector. But he said that regrettably Sierra Leone earns only $17 million revenue from the marine industry, through licensing fees issued to foreign trawlers. This he said is unacceptable and must change.
Sierra Leone lacks the infrastructure for marine processing, packaging and exporting, he said. And this needs to change if the economy is to grow and jobs created.
The government he said is putting appropriate structures and policies in place to make the necessary changes.
But government he said cannot undertake the massive investment needed to grow the marine sector. The private sector must take on this role.
The role of government he said is to create the necessary climate and conditions that will promote and stimulate private sector investment that will in turn create jobs.
The vice president said that the private sector in Sierra Leone has experienced prolonged periods of contraction because of bureaucratic hurdles, especially in establishing new businesses.
This problem he said applies to both indigenous and foreign investors. He added that the president has created an investment board which acts as the key policy making body for all private sector investments.
The aim of the Bio led government he said, is to expand the private sector to create jobs and grow the economy. This will then enable government to earn more revenue through taxation, rather than borrowing or seeking international aid.
“Government does not directly create jobs but creates the necessary environment that enables the private sector to create jobs, ” Jalloh said.
Speaking about developing the country’s tourism industry, vice president Jalloh is clear about what needs to be done.
“We are working towards putting infrastructure in place to declare Sierra Leone a visa-free country, which means so many people around the world can just jump on a plane and come to Sierra Leone and get a visa on arrival.
“This country does not have a lot of foreign Missions across the world so the best way you can encourage tourists, business people and investors to come is to make things easy for them.
“We are also looking at instituting an eVisa system which means you could sit down in your home and apply for your visa electronically to come to Sierra Leone. We are investing in infrastructure.
“Tourism means a lot for the future of Sierra Leone. We see it as an entry point for re-branding Sierra Leone. We want to send a strong signal to the world that Sierra Leone is open for business and also for tourism.
“We see the tourism sector as one of the vehicles to drive diversification of the economy. We see that it is able to stimulate growth and also build an economic base that offers jobs for boys and girls across the country,” said Jalloh.
You can watch vice president Jalloh speaking about these big changes here: