December 7, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Some thirty Sierra Leonean businesses with an estimated combined investment of over US$300 million from various sectors – agriculture, infrastructure, mining, health, education – have signed a partnership agreement with dozens of Dutch entrepreneurs at the just concluded Investment conference in The Hague, Holland.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), Raymond Kai Gbekie, after he made a presentation to woo potential Dutch investors who participated in the “Back to Growth” Investment conference organised by the Dutch government for the three Mano River Union countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia that were mostly affected and devastated by the Ebola outbreak.
Presenting agricultural opportunities that the country can offer to investors, the SLIEPA boss stated that 75% of the estimated 5.4 million hectares of arable land is available for cultivation, adding that an agricultural investor in Sierra Leone will not only be targeting the local market, but the three Mano River Union countries and the ECOWAS region as whole, with an estimated population of nearly 300 million people.
He encouraged the Dutch entrepreneurs to join their counterparts who are already operating in the country, adding that the government is trying to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to boost productivity through mechanised commercial agricultural development across the agriculture value chain, and long-term land lease for up to seventy-one years to support agribusiness investment.
Gbekie informed his audience that the nation has a comparative advantage in fisheries resources in West Africa, hosting high fish biomass of shrimps, demersal finfish, pelagic and tuna fishery with potential yields.
He said the country has 570 kilometers of coastline and a continental shelf area of about 30,000 square kilometers that contains commercially viable stocks of pelagic and demersal fish, shrimps, octopus, squid, lobsters and crabs.