September 3, 2018
By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing
President Julius Maada Bio has urged Chinese investors to invest in his country, while assuring them that his government has put policies in place to support the businesses of investors.
President Bio, who was addressing both the Sierra Leonean and business communities in Beijing on Friday, 31dt August 2018, also assured investors that his government would create an environment where the rule of law prevails to enable investors conduct their businesses in the country without fear.
“Come to Sierra Leone, invest and employ our Sierra Leonean compatriots and we will ensure that we create an avenue for you to make profits from your investments. We have a new government that is serious about investment and we will do everything to protect it,” he asured.
President Bio said, “Our brothers and sisters from China, you are invited to come to Sierra Leone. If you had once being there and hurt, come again this new administration will surely heal your wounds.”
Speaking on bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and China, President Bio said it has existed for 47 years now, adding that it has been tried, tested and proven reliable always.
“During the Ebola and mudslide incidents in Sierra Leone, the Chinese government supported us. Those things that China did for us have never gone unnoticed. Currently, everything I see between us is mutual benefit. We will have to restructure this relationship in going forward so as to ensure its sustainability,” he said.
President Bio called on the government and people of China to transfer skills and knowledge to Sierra Leoneans, noting that, “the Chinese government is able to feed 1.4 billion people within the country and if it transfers skills to us, we will be able to feed the little over seven million people in Sierra Leone. We don’t want to only feed the minds of Sierra Leoneans with quality and free education but we also want to produce food that will feed all of them in the country.”
Also speaking, First Lady Fatima Bio told the business community to come and invest in Sierra Leone because the country now has a disciplined leadership that is determined to positively transform at all cost.
“We know that there was a relationship before but this one will be better. We will do everything possible to ensure that investors are protected in the country,” she said.
Head of Chancery (HOC), Republic of Sierra Leone Embassy in China, Unisa Sahid Kamara, said Sierra Leone has seen great reforms since President Bio took over as president, including appointing committed ministers that are supporting his ‘New Direction’ agenda.
“We will always support the “New Direction” through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” he said.
Kamara said Sierra Leone’s 47 years of bilateral ties with China has seen significant development in the areas of infrastructure, health, electricity, health, education, among others.
The head of chancery noted that the economic policy and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) have ushered a new era in the partnership between Sierra Leone and China.
“This embassy in Beijing is accredited to serve 11 countries, including Japan, Australia Commonwealth, India, Malaysia, Singapore, among others,” he told the gathering.
He, however, expressed grave concern over foreigners who hold Sierra Leonean passport and are causing problems in the name of Sierra Leone.
“They are committing crimes in the name of Sierra Leone and our Chinese counterparts have started to look at some Sierra Leoneans with suspicion. This ugly development has affected members of the business community here in China. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves as Sierra Leoneans,” he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Alie Kabba, thanked President Bio for appointing an ambassador to the Embassy in China after it had gone over a year without an ambassador.
He pledged his ministry’s support to the embassy in China, under the administration of President Bio’s “New Direction” agenda.
Representative of the Sierra Leonean community in China, Brima S.C. Zoker, called on the “New Direction” administration to establish a website, which will provide regular updates on the country’s tourism, bilateral ties, imports and exports, among others, noting that if this information is available, they would be able to explain to investors about the business opportunities in Sierra Leone.
“The thing that pains me seriously is that most times people say come back home and contribute to national development, and when we go back home there is not even a defined office where we can be able to seek job opportunities,” he said.
Zoker called on the ‘New Direction’ administration to create jobs for students returning from China to enable them impart knowledge learnt over the years out of Sierra Leone.