The forum also aimed at providing an opportunity for renewal of existing economic relationships and strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries

NAIROBI, Kenya: The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), led by the Economic Diplomacy Sector Board Chair Mr. James Mureu, co-hosted Kenya – Sierra Leone Joint Business Forum on 31st May 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi.

The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency and the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest).

The forum aimed at enhancing business partnerships and investments between Kenya and Sierra Leone while at the same time providing an opportunity for renewal of existing economic relationships and strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

Present during the forum from Kenya were Hon. Betty Maina – Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development; Amb. Johnson Weru – Principal Secretary, State Department for Trade and Enterprise Development; Ms. Olivia Rachier – Ag. Managing Director, KenInvest; Ms. Fatma Elmaawy – Second Vice President, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI) among other business leaders.

The Sierra Leone delegation included Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa – Chief Minister; Dr. Edward Sandy – Minister of Trade and Industry; Dr. Maada Mustapha – Chair & Executive Director, National Investment Board.

In his introductory remarks Amb. Weru expressed gratitude for the goodwill between the Governments of Sierra Leone and Kenya saying that the bilateral business relations between the private sector in the two countries was crucial.

“Political goodwill is key for business continuity and sustainability. We are glad that our two governments have committed to re-assure the private sector of this core fundamental to doing business, even as we now work together to create the trading frameworks between our two countries,” He said.

Amb. Weru also encouraged the Kenyan private sector to pursue both private and public investment opportunities in science and technology, agriculture, and research including trade and services.

Dr. Maada Mustapha demonstrated the strong ties between the two countries saying that Kenya has in the past assisted Sierra Leone in ending the 10-year Civil war through peacekeeping in the 1990s and more recently in conducting their population census.

“We are now moving from government-to-government interaction towards business-to-business interaction. Sierra Leone may be a small country of 8 million people, but we are also a gateway to the West African market of over four hundred million people. It is in this regard that we want our respective private sectors to collaborate,” Remarked Dr. Mustapha.

In her address, Hon. Betty Maina said it was welcome to see the private sector now riding the wave of strong diplomatic relations to develop even stronger business ties between the two nations. “Our role at the ministry is to help the business community to thrive by taking necessary steps to help the offtake of economic activities between our two nations.

“In this regard, I want to assure our brothers and sisters from Sierra Leone that Kenya is indeed open and safe for doing business,” She noted while encouraging investors to take advantage of opportunities in Kenya and find a foothold that would also help them access the East African Community and by extension the larger COMESA market.

Dr. Edward Sandy said the country had identified new opportunities opening in the Agriculture, Manufacturing, Education, Health, ICT, Mining, and Tourism sectors while encouraging the private sector in Kenya to take full advantage of these.

He added that Sierra Leone recently reviewed its investment entry policy and will soon introduce the special economic zones policy. “We are keen to fully translate these engagements today into something tangible that will bring our two countries even closer together,” He concluded.

On his part, the Sierra Leone Chief Minister Mr. Jusu Saffa said the country was a stable economy with a wealth of resources that investors can bank on to realize returns for their businesses. He added that this included the growing human capital and infrastructure agenda as well as 570 KM of coastline suitable for marine fishing and exploration.

“We have a young and vibrant population also have a huge potential in the promotion of cultural heritage and tourism given our history with the slave trade. We also have abundant arable land with a favourable climate for large-scale farming and this is in addition to the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that we are willing to offer investors in the various sectors of our economy,” He said.

While delivering a joint conclusion of the forum, Mr. James Mureu outlined the following outcomes:

  • The private sector was called upon to harness the enterprise and opportunities available in the two nations, especially in the following key sectors: Education, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Education, Health, ICT, Mining, and Tourism.
  • Investors who set up shop in Sierra Leone will be able to utilize the ECOWAS framework that Sierra Leone uses to trade with her neighbours in West Africa. Sierra Leone is a gateway market to over 400 million people in West Africa.
  • KenInvest is committed to facilitating the investors who set up shop in Kenya and assisting the government of Sierra Leone in terms of benchmarking.
  • The trade numbers in terms of exports and imports need to be improved to mirror the strong diplomatic ties between Kenya and Sierra Leone. The private sector has been challenged to deepen the economic ties in the key sectors that have been identified.
  • It was noted that Sierra Leone will review the Special Economic Zones policy to encourage investment in the Manufacturing front. Further, the government of Sierra Leone is committed to investing in SEZs and Export Promotion Zones (EPZ)
  • Sierra Leone has reviewed the cooperative policy to be robust and to support the MSMEs.
  • Sierra Leone committed to giving fiscal incentives such as tax holidays to investors who set up shop dependent on the output the investment will give.
  • The Kenyan government will guarantee the repatriation of the profits and capital of Sierra Leone investors who set up shop in Kenya.

Lead photo: Hon. Betty Maina – Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development, addressing the delegates.

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