Julu 9, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay
Over 30 different companies from the Netherlands yesterday completed a three-day trade mission to Sierra Leone (from July 6 to 8). Official meetings were held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Aberdeen, Freetown where business and investment opportunities were discussed.
The event, which was organized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), provided the platform for representatives of the companies to discuss various business ideas and map out future action with the Sierra Leone government.
Speaking during the ceremony, Dutch Minister of Trade and Foreign Cooperation, Lilian Plounen, said she was impressed with the relationship between his government and Sierra Leone, noting: “I am happy to be here and I hope this relation will continue. One of the main reasons for my visit is to see how both countries could further go into proper development.”
Also, SLIEPA Chief Executive Officer, Raymond Gbekie, said the ceremony was the first big event to have been organized by the government, adding that SLIEPA’s aim is to help companies planning to establish or expand business operations in Sierra Leone to save costs by providing information on investments and exports and provide access to experienced professionals who can guide companies through locating and doing business in Sierra Leone and share intelligence and connections.
He noted that the vision of SLIEPA is to facilitate and promote investment incentives to potential investors through the establishment of an institution that is tasked with the responsibility of facilitating the registration of business enterprises, business development and training, access to finance, and advocacy, among others.
“We also promote fair treatment and protection of foreign investments in terms of guarantees against expropriation, guarantees for free transfer of funds and facilitating the amicable settlement of disputes,” he said.
According to him, the administration of the Investment Promotion Act 2004 was initially assigned to the Sierra Leone Export Development and Investment Corporation (SLEDIC) but that in 2007, its function was assigned to SLIEPA following the enactment of the Investment and Export Promotion Act of 2007.
Mr. Gbekie explained that the principal functions of the agency are to promote investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and provide information to potential investors on matters relating to investments, as well as facilitating registration of business enterprises and assist investors in obtaining permits, licenses, certificates or clearances needed for the commencement of business.