The General Secretary of the African-Hungarian Union, Tunde Komolafe, has disclosed their interest in investing in various sectors in the Sierra Leone economy.
He is currently in town with his partner Gabor Tatai, the Strategic Adviser of Aitia International Inc. in Hungary for the inauguration of President Ernest Bai Koroma and to look at investment prospects in the country.
Speaking to Awoko on their investment mission in Sierra Leone, Komolafe said, “in 1996 we formed the African-Hungarian Union which is a mixed membership union of both Hungarians and Africans who have one common goal.”
He explained further that, “we looked at the new country I found myself since 1989 and together with some others, felt that the only way our hosts can do business with us was for them to know us. So we started with cultural events like the African festival in 1994, in Budapest, which attracted a lot of Europeans to us. The festival had a lot of rave reviews in the local press and since then positive things started to happen. We started portraying positive aspects of Africa. That was how the African Hungarian Union was born two years later.”
Speaking on their mission in Sierra Leone and his impressions so far from his two visits, he stressed, “I came to sierra Leone two months ago with a business delegation from Hungary to look at areas where we can come in to help. The kind of business people I work with in Hungary are not diamond dealers. They are people who are interested in the welfare of the people. So they want to invest in education, transportation, agriculture and tourism. These are the areas that are crucial for the nation’s development. If the people have sound education, that will boost the economy as the country will not lack manpower.”
Commenting on the area of education he had this to say, “we the African-Hungarian Union are ready to help with computers for schools, books, writing materials and so on. We hope to lobby people in Hungary and other parts of Europe to get all the things needed for the education of Sierra Leone, so that the manpower can develop. We can help with from chalk to personal computers”.
He went on, “we also intend to be involved in the area of student exchange programmes, where Hungarians can come here while Sierra Leonean students go to Hungary for exchange programmes. This will boost the relationship between the two countries,” and maintained that, “we can also arrange for visiting professors in various fields to come in”.
Komolafe emphasized further that, “once we have the support of the ministry of education here, all these things can start within the shortest possible time. We are also planning to institute scholarship programmes that Sierra Leonean students can benefit from. The aim is for Sierra Leone to have an army of well educated people to run the country in the next fifteen to twenty years time.”
On transportation, he intimated that his union intended to ship down buses that had been redundant in Europe to Freetown , as some of these vehicles he said might be twenty-five to seventy five seat buses that could be put on the Freetown provincial routes to assist with easy movement of people and goods.
“We can bring down many of these vehicles and then set up workshop and logistics offices here to run them properly,” he said and noted that, “I personally, used to work for the Budapest Transport Corporation. So I can use my expertise there to help Sierra Leone. We can help to lobby for these buses to come down here. If we are encouraged, we will help tackle the transport problems this way.” he stressed.