Changsha, China, Friday 7 September 2018 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has wooed investors at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Investing in Africa Forum held in Changsha, Hunan Province in China, saying Sierra Leone is now open for business.
Addressing hundreds of participants across Africa, China, Europe, United States and Asia on Thursday, 6 September 2018, His Excellency President Bio described the Investing in Africa Forum thus: “This Forum is a unique platform for policy dialogue and knowledge exchange, mobilising investment and facilitating trade.”
President Bio also told the participants that as a new Government nothing could be more exciting than addressing investors about the continent and Sierra Leone and highlighted the huge potentials for investment in Africa.
“Africa as a continent, which accounts for about 13% of the world’s population, is endowed with vast arable land conducive for agriculture, huge deposits of extractives including minerals, gas and oil, holistic and attractive destinations for tourism, large coastline with substantial fish stock, young and capable labour force and growing middle-income class,” he said.
Despite these potentials, President Bio stated that according to the World Investment Report Africa attracts less than 3% of global Foreign Direct Investment compared to 49.8% share for developed economies, 33.3% for developing Asia and 10.6% for Latin America and the Caribbean.
President Bio went on to say that: “Worse still, Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Africa dropped by 21.5% from US$53 billion in 2016 to US$42 billion in 2017.”
Even though the Forum was about investing in Africa, President Bio also used the opportunity to market Sierra Leone to the investors from elsewhere. A very persuasive and confident President Bio told the audience that: “My country Sierra Leone with total population estimate of 7.1 million has huge potential for investment. It is peaceful and democratic; has vast arable land for farming; enormous deposits of minerals including diamonds, gold, rutile, bauxite, iron ore etc; great potential for oil and gas; large coast with huge potentials for fisheries; rich tourist attractions such as beaches; conducive weather; youthful and capable labour force; robust policy, regulatory and legal framework and above all, a determined political leadership to promote private sector investment.”
Determined to attract investors to Sierra Leone, President Bio concluded his address with an invitation for investors.
“I will, therefore, like to inform you that Sierra Leone is now open for business and assure you of my Government’s determination to creating the enabling environment for private investment. I particularly look forward to investment in infrastructure, agriculture, marine resources and tourism in order to diversify the economy.”
President Julius Maada Bio and President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo were the only two Heads of State invited to address the investing in Africa Conference in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. The invitation of President Bio demonstrated that in less than six months in office, he has not only demonstrated leadership on the African Continent but has also shown economic discipline in governance that is enviable. Other speakers at the Investing in Africa Forum included the Vice Minister of Finance, China, Vice Chairman of China Development Bank, Vice President of World Bank, Africa Region.
The Fourth Investing in Africa Forum has been organised by China’s Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, The World Bank Group and the Hunan Province of China. The IAF had been slated for 6 – 8 September 2018.
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio was accompanied to the opening ceremony by his elegant wife, Mrs Fatima Bio, Chief Minister, Professor David J Francis and other senior government ministers. The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, was directed by His Excellency the President to fully participate in the Forum and provide a report on proceedings and recommendations on return.
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