Salone News

Investment vibes, Salone style (Part 1)

By  | 24 December 2009 at 03:45 | 411 views

Opinion

What do the ruling All People’s Congress party (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have in common? The answer is alarming and simple.

The answer, which supporters of both parties would not be hoping for this New Year, is the subject of this article. Sharing this grim opion piece now would definitely have been out of the question but it became possible due to a brief conversation I had in Wales recently which reminded me of a bitter experience.

During a tea break at a conference in Cardiff last month, an old classmate of the Government Secondary School Kenema told me that he has convinced some potential foreign investors interested in investing in our beleaguered Sierra Leone.

My sugarless tea nearly choked me as I burst out laughing. ‘Why are you behaving so uncharacteristically in the middle of an important conversation?’ my friend, known only as Khalilu, asked me.

‘My brother,’ I told my friend, ‘you’re wasting your precious time. We all love Sierra Leone, but if I may borrow a quote from Emmerson’s debut album, many of our politicians are still exhibiting the traits of the ‘Borbor Bellehs,’ (i.e. individuals who condone immoralities like bribery and corruption).

There was a grin on my friend’s face when I stated that I had personally experienced this investment bitterness before with both the SLPP government under the erstwhile President Tejan Kabbah and the current APC government of President Ernest Koroma. I told Khalilu that I truly believed that ex-leader Kabbah and President Koroma were aware of my international investors’ interests in Sierra Leone.

‘Have a break,’ my classmate, an ardent APC supporter, halted my tirade. He reiterated that President Ernest Koroma and other APC politicians have continuously made countless appeals to foreign and local investors to bolster our country’s ailing economy.

Khalilu reminded me about November 18, 2009, when an investment conference was held in London on Sierra Leone’s behalf by the World Bank, the United Nations and the Department for International Development.

‘President Koroma made frantic diplomatic overtures to convince these international bodies about the safety and favourable investment environment in Sierra Leone,’ he said.

With a broad smile, Khalilu continued: ‘President Koroma announced in New York a couple of months ago that there are enormous and tangible mineral, fishing, agricultural, energy and tourism opportunities that Sierra Leone can offer to all potential investors. Even more recently, the former British Minister Tony Blair touched on the country’s development of essential investment policies and opportunities that are conducive to both public and private partnerships in Sierra Leone.

"So Abu Shaw, I cannot understand why your private investor friends were not given the welcome they deserve by the APC and the SLPP governments,’ my classmate stated.

‘Time is up,’ the loudspeakers in the hall reverberated to remind the delegates about the commencement of the afternoon session.

‘I will give you a more detailed response later,’ I assured Khalilu. I gently patted my friend’s back as we took our seats for the resumption of the Public Relations conference.

In an ideal world, every investor – be it a nation, company or individual – should be given the respect they deserve by lending ears and giving them the platform necessary to sell their financial ideals to the country in need. It is left with the country needing the investment to listen, evaluate the prospects and consequences of the investors’ proposals and then choose sense and reject the nonsense.

But if a country needing potential investors fails to give the necessary platform and listen to the investors’ proposals, then it shows that the rulers of that country are either not conversant with the tenets of investment law or that the governors of that nation have no patriotic blood in their veins. Sadly, the reasons outlined above were the very stumbling blocks that my foreign investors were faced with in 2005 and 2008.

Also, I would like to mention some of the shameful comments made by our foreign investors, especially Peter Otai who was a former Defence Minister of Uganda under President Milton Obote. Mr Otai, my contact, continues to represent the international investors in the United Kingdom. Mr. Otai told me: ‘Your government is not serious. They treated us with disdain and abandonment with no iota of respect at a time when majority of their own compatriots are living in squalor, hunger and deprivation.’

To be continued.

Editor’s note: Abu Shaw(photo) holds an MSc in Corporate Communication, a BA in New Media Journalism with Law and is currently reading Web Design in London. Our main man in London, he has been quite busy with studies for a long while but called recently to say he is once more ready for action. Welcome back, Abu. High tech: tech, tech, tech.

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