By Joseph S. Margai
If travelling overseas on a regular basis, is the only way to rebrand Sierra Leone’s image in the sight of investors and Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora, let the President travel a million times.
Oh yes! Let him travel a million times. And I say again, he should travel a million times!
Pessimists and critics of President Bio have always grumbled that the president has embarked on travelling overseas regularly without bringing back any good to the country. But recent developments, especially in the area of regaining the confidence of investors and Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora, have proven them wrong.
For instance, Elite Agro-United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) leading producer and distributor of agricultural commodities, in a meeting with President Bio in Al Ain-expressed interest in investing in Sierra Leone because of her favaourable climate conditions.
Meanwhile, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), had already signed a $275M investment deal with the Turkish SALA Group, for the resumption of large scale Torma Bum rice farming, which is expected to create more than twenty thousand jobs in Sierra Leone.
This will also help to alleviate food poverty in the country as well as increase export.
It is understood that during the first phase of the project, about 54,000 hectares of rice will be cultivated, using the Wanje and the Sewa Rivers for sustainable irrigation.
This investment will help Sierra Leone achieve food self-sufficiency and save the country more than $200 million in rice importation annually.
Similarly, President Bio had signed five agreements and memoranda of understanding (MOU) with his counterpart from Abu Dhabi, which would lead to investments in mining, oil and gas, infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture, health, among others.
I have always told people in public transport, Ataya bases, ghettoes, bars, and other places that I visit regularly, that President Bio is one of the most honest presidents I have known in this country.
He knows this country’s problem and he would stop at nothing that will undermine the development of Sierra Leone.
He’s not carried away by the many accolades he has been receiving from both national and international organisations for his good leadership qualities.
When he started travelling overseas, many of his political opponents nicknamed him “the flying president”.
However, the once nicknamed “flying president” is now being referred to as the “Moses of our time” by many well-meaning Sierra Leoneans.
His overseas travelling have brought recognition and respect to Sierra Leone.
Investors are now being encouraged to come whilst Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora are now beginning to support the President’s ambition of transforming the country.
Such Sierra Leoneans are the Hollywood movie icon-Idris Elba and Chelsea’s footballer Antonio Rudiger-including many others who recently traced their ancestry to Sierra Leone.
In other words, those in the diaspora, who have never been encouraged to think of Sierra Leone as the country of their forefathers, are now joyfully coming to the place they are proud to call home.
Few days ago, Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger donated the sum of one billion Leones (US$104,996) in support of President Bio’s free quality education, an initiative that critics earlier rumoured would not be achievable.
Well, it’s now in its second year of implementation and its effects on Sierra Leonean school-going children is unimaginable.
In December 2019, Hollywood movie icon-Idris Elba, whose father is a Sierra Leonean-was in the country for the first time.
He was issued a Sierra Leonean passport by President Bio.
He pledged to give support in the development of one of Sierra Leone’s historic places called the ‘BontheSherbro Island’.
BontheSherbro Island was one of the settling places for our colonial masters-the British.
In fact, it was a political base and a melting pot for economic boom. It was one of the colonies in Sierra Leone-second to Freetown-the country’s capital.
Recently, a billionaire entrepreneur from the United States of America, Dr. Victor Roberts whose DNA result confirms his Sierra Leonean lineage and was made honorary Paramount Chief of Sittia Chiefdom, Bonthe District, Southern Sierra Leone, pledged his support to develop the district.
He was convinced by President Bio’s leadership credentials.
Countless number of Americans, whose DNA results confirms their Sierra Leonean lineage, has been coming to visit the country since President Bio took over the mantle of leadership for the country.
As he continues to rebrand Sierra Leone’s image overseas with his presence and goodwill messages, there is and will always be an influx of potential investors and Sierra Leoneans abroad wanting to come and do business in the country.