Last year the GoSL and the UK DFID embarked on the “Sierra Leone: Back in Business” Campaign; an effort to bring investors back into Sierra Leone. I dont know if this campaign increased the number of investors in the country but I think GoSL and DFID were more concerned with the process of the campaign rather than outcome. Long before Sierra Leone was back in business but still in conflict, in 2000 when the biggest investor in the country was probably the UNAMSIL peace keepers; CELTEL International B.V became one of the first multinational companies to begin operations in Sierra Leone. Since then many other companies have followed suit but private sector development needs to occur at a faster pace if the country is going to move from the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.
Last year AccessPoint Africa Incorporated (APA) with CEO Conrad Coyanda-Parkzes hosted a free community training class at its Bo Internetworking center. The training class was provided as a collaborative effort between Sierra Visions and The African Network – TAN. Participants in the training included student and professionals from local institutions such as Bo Town Council, Bo Kenema Power Systems (BKPS), SLBS, Bo Government Hospital and Njala University. The training introduced participants to Internet concepts and covered different areas including the use of search engines, and email registration.
SBTS group encourages its employees to participate in community service efforts by allowing them paid time off to participate in various volunteer initiatives. The company’s employees have participated in volunteer activities for various organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Conforti Primary School Scholarship Fund, the Home Coming Summit, Sierra Visions, the Sierra Leone Development Fund and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
The efforts of these companies, NGOs, and concerned individuals doing all they can to contribute to Sierra Leone’s development is exactly what the nation needs to take advantage of the recent international media attention garnered by best selling author Ishmael Beah and musical sensation Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. The journey ahead is going to be long and hard but it is far from impossible. As I leave for Sierra Leone in the next couple days, I am excited, happy, and optimistic not only for myself but because I know that change is possible and on the way. Sierra Leone is back in business and moving forward one step at a time.