Addressing hundreds of participants across Africa, China, Europe, United States and Asia on Thursday, 6th September 2018, President Bio said that the Investing in Africa Forum is a unique platform for policy dialogue and knowledge exchange, mobilizing investment and facilitating trade.
President Bio told the participants that as a new Government nothing could be more exciting than addressing investors about the continent and Sierra Leone. He highlighted the huge potentials for investment in Africa reminding that the Africa continent accounts for about 13% of the world’s population.
"Africa is endowed with vast arable land, conducive for agriculture, huge deposits of extractive including minerals, gas and oil, holistic and attractive destinations for tourism, large coastline with substantial fish stock, young and capable labor force and growing middle income class.
"Despite these potentials and 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. Worse still, Foreign Direct Investment inflows to Africa dropped by 21.5% from US$53 billion in 2016 to US$42 billion in 2017," President Bio noted.
Even though the Forum was about investing in Africa, President Bio also used the opportunity to market Sierra Leone to the investors. A very persuasive and confident Bio told the audience: "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 labor 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."
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 4th Investing in Africa Forum was organised by China's Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, the World Bank Group and the Hunan Province of China. The IAF was slated for 6th - 8th September 2018.
President Julius Maada Bio was accompanied to the opening ceremony by his wife and First Lady Mrs. Fatima Bio, Chief Minister Professor David J Francis, Foreign Minister Alie Kabba and other senior government ministers.
The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa was directed by President Bio to fully participate in the Forum and provide report on proceedings and recommendations on return.