A new Public Private Dialogue (PPD) between investors and the Government of Sierra Leone was launched at an event held on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London this week, part of the Invest Salone initiative.
The PPD provided information on investment and trade with Sierra Leone and opportunities for dialogue and networking with Sierra Leonean businesses and the government.
Invited to the PPD were diaspora and UK investors and entrepreneurs interested in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leonean investors and entrepreneurs interested in entering the UK market, UK and UK and African financial, legal and trade institutions and specialists in development finance.
Sierra Leonean businesses from the agriculture, fashion and design, and tourism and hospitality sectors seeking to enter the UK market and seeking investment to scale, were also the event at Herbert Smith Freehills in the City of London on Tuesday, January 21. They were linked up with investors for 1-1 sessions on Wednesday 22 January to move forward with more concrete investment conversations.
Goals for the day included:
- Identifying active investors interested investing in Sierra Leone
- Highlighting pipeline projects in need of investment
- Identifying angel investors, impact investors and other financing options
- Exploring how to overcome critical issues to enable investment projects to progress
- Raising awareness about new investment instruments, such as diaspora bonds and franchise models
- Further developing the Invest Salone network to maintain dialogue with government, share information and consolidate partnerships
AFFORD UK, under the auspices of Invest Salone, helped to facilitate the PPD, alongside the Office of the President of Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), the Tony Blair Institute and Herbert Smith Freehills.
Invest Salone is a £27m DFID-funded programme running between 2018-23 which aims to increase investment in Sierra Leone’s exporting sectors, including agriculture, tourism, and fisheries and leading to economic diversification, household income growth and job creation.
The programme will help Sierra Leone to meet the economic aspirations of its growing young population, tackling the drivers of instability and irregular migration.
The PPD began with a rundown of the Government of Sierra Leone’s priorities for development and economic growth from Chief Minister Professor David Francis. Mary Hunt, Africa Director, DFID, , and Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry, spoke about work to support investment and the transformation of Sierra Leone.
Dr John Edward, the Chairman of the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, spoke of improving roads, adding rail services and building a bridge to create a seamless connection between Freetown and Lungi Airport, all part of government plans for an investment-friendly Sierra Leone.
Joe Demby, Presidential Advisor on Economic and Financial Policy, added: ‘I believe in a few years, the story will be different. We have current constraints, but not for long.’ He urged that PPD with UK investors be ‘institutionalised’ as a permanent mechanism for disseminating much needed accurate information about opportunities in Sierra Leone, as well as providing access to government representatives to resolve challenges and barriers to investment.
An overarching consensus was that at the heart of all the changes and selling points were the people of Sierra Leone. Mary Hunt said: ‘Human capital is important – especially empowering adolescent girls to be educated and improve their future earning and spending potential’.
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio had been in London for the UK-Africa Investment Summit which focused on strategic issues for both the UK and Africa, including trade, job creation, energy transition and mutual prosperity.