In a proactive drive to put basic economic development structures in place such as credible business associations, markets and financial institutions to attract meaningful investment in the country the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency SLIEPA has revitalized the defunct Sierra Leone Export Association to compliment their efforts in boosting national socio economic growth.
The process of resuscitating the Sierra Leone Export Association was done in the form of a democratic election recently at the British Council in Freetown where a cross section of exporters converged to willingly cast their votes for whom in their estimation could better serve the nation’s economic interest by harnessing the country’s export products to match international standards in order to compete in the international markets.
Various positions from the Chief Executive or Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary General, Assistant Secretary, PRO, Financial Secretary and Treasurer were contested for, but in the end Mr. Michael Kamara and A .Y Sesay emerged as the Chairman and Vice respectively while Secretary General and Assistant went to Mr. Mohamed Kutubu Conteh and ARC Conteh respectively. The Financial Secretary was clinched by Alimamy Kamara with Miniratu Sallu as Treasurer and Amadu W. Kargbo emerged as the Public Relations Officer.
The electoral college comprised of the Director of SLIBA Victoria Williams, Director Investment SLIEPA Raymond Kai Gbeki and Henry Fofana Export Development Officer SLIEPA, all of whom spoke about the need to revitalize the Sierra Leone Export Association and the cardinal role of SLIEPA in promoting investment and export to enhance economic development.
Raymond Gbeki specifically pointed to the fact that, Sierra Leone is endowed with rich natural resources but they are never reflective of our standard of living because we still occupy the bottom of the UNDP human development index report, adding that if a machinery is not put in place to tap those resources for the good of all there could be no meaningful development.
Post war Sierra Leone saw the operations of a series of Community Based Organizations and other Non-Governmental Organizations in collaborating with government Agencies like the Social Action and Poverty Alleviation SAPA program to help resettle and rehabilitate war withered or vulnerable victims economically through micro credit scheme, but some beneficiaries if not all are still economically impoverished just because they thought it was an emergency relief handout to them and could therefore not treat it with care.
With the gradual scaling down of donor supports and the formation of government agencies like SLIEPA and SLIBA efforts are now efforts are now geared to formulate strategic plans of action to resuscitate basic economic structures with a policy framework to inculcate the culture of entrepreneurship into the lives of Sierra Leoneans through partnership, new product development, trade information, market and finance rather than depending on donor handouts.
The resuscitation of the export association is laudable but development does not occur in isolation as roads leading to the interior part of the country where substantial quantity of the country’s natural resources are deposited are a nightmare with no power generation not to talk of banks, health and other amenities to encourage investors to localize their industries.
SLIEPA has a Herculean task to foster both local and international partnership and collaboration to strengthen relevant structures so as to attract meaningful investment in the country.
By Solomon Rogers