January 19, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
A delegation of trade investors from the Kingdom of Belgium is in Freetown to look at investment prospects following the end of the deadly Ebola outbreak in the country, although a 22-year-old lady was recently confirmed to have died from Ebola in the Tonkolili District.
The delegation is led by Secretary of State for Foreign Trade in Belgium, Peter de Crem, who led a roundtable discussion forum held at the plush Radisson Blu Hotel yesterday.
Mr. De Crem said theirs is the first high profile trade delegation visit to Sierra Leone, adding that they would also visit Guinea and Liberia – the other two nations affected by the Ebola – to evaluate best ways to enter the economy.
He disclosed that they are also in the country to share knowledge and expertise as a result of the good bilateral ties between the two countries.
The Belgium Secretary of State for Foreign Trade also disclosed that despite the bad economic times experienced by the country, the International Monetary Fund has forecast a 20% economic growth next year.
In her welcome address, Acting Minister of Trade and Industry, Mabinty Daramy, praised the good role of Belgium in the economic development of Sierra Leone, noting that the Kingdom is the largest trading partner of the small West Africa state in the European Union.
Ms. Daramy expressed confidence in the business environment and urged the investors to make good use of the immense business opportunity in the country.
She praised President Ernest Bai Koroma for prioritising development in the trade sector, adding that a lot of work needed to be done in the post-Ebola recovery plan.
Executive head of the Sierra Leone Import and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), Raymond Gbekie, made a comprehensive presentation on the major areas of investment in the country, focusing on agriculture and tourism.
He advised the investors to follow the guidelines put in place by the government, as the leadership had established a conducive business atmosphere for private investment.
The delegation comprises investors from various sectors like information technology, infrastructure, energy, and agribusiness.
Meanwhile, the delegation also met with President Koroma and other key players in the trade and business sector.