• November 9, 2023


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Government’s untrustworthy cancellation of the Tonkolili-Pepel port and rail lease agreement with ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms (ARISE IIP) less than a year when the Government of Sierra Leone signed an agreement with the Dubai based company has dent the image of the country. It has also portrays an ugly investment outlook of a nation whose leaders past and present have been on the search for foreign investors and businesses to invest in the country. The lease in question sealed with ARISE IIP in January 2023 was meant for the management and operations of the facility and terminated it October the same year, leaving Sierra Leone’s vestment in very bad light in sights of foreign direct investments and businesses the world over. A poor record for a nation aspiring to attain a middle-income status and simultaneously duping foreign investors.


To say the least the world is indeed watching keenly and taking stocks of what is going on in the country, of which Sierra Leone is no exemption. So any global record-breaking gains and scandals if any, that hit the country, especially in the areas of Government of Sierra Leone handlings of local and foreign investors and businesses, must be treated with all level of seriousness, sincerity and credibility to the highest peak with no iota of doubts. By so doing it will raise investors’ confidence to invest in the country, rather than doing things in a flip-plop manner with a tendency of questioning the country’s business and investment credibility as in the case of the cancellation of the ARISE IIP lease agreement. A challenging situation that has brought the West African nation global embarrassments which no serious business and political entity can afford to have, as the cancellation of the port and rail agreement with ARISE IIP has left Sierra Leone investment outlook in a disgraceful status.


It is appalling and worrying to the point that the Government is now busy isolating itself from global business and investment communities. Recent among them was when President Macky Sall of Senegal invited his Sierra Leonean counterpart to the inauguration of the ARISE IIP industrial zone, President Julius Maada Bio deliberately failed to show up at the event in Dakar. He assigned his vice president, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh for fear of shame and international embarrassments. Dr Jalloh whiles at the event in Senegal, didn’t say anything about the Government of Sierra Leone cancellation of the port and rail lease agreement with ARISE IIP to his Senegalese hosts. All the Principal Aide to President Bio shared on his various social media handles was that the company is also implementing a similar investment venture in Sierra Leone and stopped short from mentioning the illicit cancellation of ARISE IIP port and rail lease pact by the Government of Sierra Leone. It is unimaginable for Dr Jalloh to cope with such discomfiture in the midst of his foreign business partners in Dakar. This has however painted an unpleasant portrait of Sierra Leone’s investment outlook, in spite of the huge amount of taxpayers’ moneys invested in the rebranding the country for the attraction of direct foreign investments.


President Bio himself has on several occasions justified his persistent overseas travelling to entice foreign investors in.

FORUM only hopes President Bio is also not in Marrakesh for wooing another victim to the slaughter house here in Freetown, where such business and investment will be terminated after striking a deal for the highest bidder. It is the highest bidder that splashed money in the faces of the two government mining lease deal that led to the cancellation of the ARISE IIP. With hesitations riffing for fears of repeat of similar plight now faced by ARISE IIP, foreign investors opting for investments and businesses in Sierra Leone should and must learn a lesson from this. Nothing is unavoidable on the face of earth especially under the Bio hegemony with Sierra Leone being a country of multiple possibilities.


It could be recalled that ARISE IIP signed a lease agreement with government in January this year for the management and operation of the Tonkolili-Pepel port and rail facility and terminated it in October the same year. The termination is said to have been precipitated by a dole of huge amount of money splashed by the South-East Asian investors ahead of president Bio’s state visit to the People’s Republic of China on the invite of President Xi Jinping. So who knows what comes up next even when others shall have been brought for businesses?


Going to Marrakesh for investment promotions sounds good Mr President though your government’s recent victim ARISE IIP is still battling difficulties associated with bitter ordeals experienced in the hands of your cabinet ministers of Mines and Mineral Resource and Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The real terminators of the ARISE IIP Pepel-Tonkolili port and rail lease under the watch of President Julius Maada Bio as if Sierra Leone is being run without a political leadership.


The fact that government conducted itself in a dishonest manner to foreign investors, to the peak of damaging the business reputation and credibility of the country, is a course worth fighting, making sure such unethical practices are brought to halt, thereby saving image of the country to foreign investors.


Confidence by every stretch of imagination needs to be restored now by starting afresh to encourage investors with new narratives, so that they can once again see the Sierra Leone as a credible investment destination in the world. An attestation of lack of confidence is why President Bio didn’t appear in Dakar for the unveiling of the Senegal Industrial Zone by the very ARISE IIP the Government of Sierra Leone has deceived because of money in the form of the highest bid paid by the South-East Asian to government handlers. What a deceitful government?


FORUM’s word of caution to investors and businesses aspiring to contribute to the economic development of Sierra Leone through their investments is to share this wise saying with borrowed Olawale Gladstone Emmanuel Rotimi, best known as Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame that, ‘When the frog in front falls in a pit, others behind takes caution… so others must therefore learn from ARISE IIP’s lesson.

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