………Says business environment favourable for investors
By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, Dr Solomon Gembeh, has said that his country was now fully open and fertile for business and tourism.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, Gembeh said that although there were many Nigerian businesses flourishing in Sierra Leone, the land was still virgin for more investment.
He said that based on the relationship between both countries and the big-brother role which Nigeria had continued to play, Sierra Leone was home to any Nigerian.
He said that driving investors to his country had been his major focus since his appointment in 2018, pointing out that a lot of work had been done to boost the business relationship between both countries.
“Well, I came to this country at the heels of not too good image of my country here in Nigeria. The business community has not been very happy about their relationship in Sierra Leone.
“There was a need for us to redirect, refocus and clean up the image of Sierra Leone in Nigeria and to the extent and like you see what I am doing here in Nigeria, everywhere I go, I give the good image of Sierra Leone to this country.
“And here is the argument and I think I have succeeded in doing that for the most part. There are lots of our Nigerian brothers doing business in Sierra Leone.
“We have about 13 banks in Sierra Leone and nine of them are owned by Nigerians and they hired majority, say 97 per cent to 98 per cent of local people.
“If you go to the central district it is dominated by Nigerians notwithstanding those few areas that might have created a bitter feeling about Sierra Leone. Your brothers are there making money.
“So, I am positing, that why are we not clamouring to go to Sierra Leone to join our brothers there and invest.
“Our beach life in Freetown is marvellous, we have ever beautiful beaches. Our grooves are very receptive along the beaches, the beach life you will always enjoy it (and) fresh catches from the sea is amazing,” he said.
The High Commissioner said that a number of businesses would have come into being in his country but for the interruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He however said that the country under the able leadership of President Julius Bio, have created a good environment for things to start bouncing back quickly.
“We were on the trajectory of building this image, refocusing Sierra Leone for people to know that Sierra Leone is a destination for tourism and all kinds of investments.
“So, if you really have money, it is a time for you to expand. Sierra Leone is a very fertile place to pick up.
“If you are into oil and gas, we have oil blocs. I can assure you that quite a few Nigerians already have oil blocs. You can invest in hotels, in entertainment industry.
“If you want to go into agriculture, we have lots of agricultural lands. We have similar tropical environment. There is sunlight most of the year, it rains also. So, any area you want to invest.
“You want to go into spare parts, spare parts are something that is a booming business. Nigerians dominate the spare parts industry; there is active competition in that industry.
“You want to help with our infrastructures; you can build roads and do tolls. We are looking for folks to give us longer bridges, though others are there, we can create other avenues like this ferry services, it is a very lucrative business,” he said.
He however pointed out certain priority areas to include: education and health, stressing that Nigerian investors can chose to set up hospitals.(NAN)