OFFICE OF DIASPORA AFFAIRS CONCLUDES FIRST DIASPORA INVESTMENTS MAPPING
By Alfred Fornah
The Private Sector Unit of the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) has recently completed a two week diaspora investment mapping exercise.
The exercise was conducted in the Western area and some part of the North including Makeni and Mile Ninety One. This is the first ever diaspora investment mapping exercise that has been conducted in Sierra Leone.
The mapping exercise aimed at identifying and profiling diaspora businesses; also seeking to provide valuable insights into the nature and impacts of diaspora investment in country.
According to the Director, Office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh the diaspora business mapping is just among a number of programmes they are planning to roll out in 2017.
‘’The ODA has led it approach to harness the Sierra Leonean Diaspora community towards the development of the country. Our institution has been playing a key role in promoting friendly investment environment; thereby serving as a one stop shop resource center for the Diaspora Community. And the diaspora investment mapping we have conducted proved that the Sierra Leonean Diaspora Community is indeed playing an important role in contributing to the rapid development of the country through by creating Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large scale investments.’’ ODA’s Director explained. He promised that the diaspora investment mapping exercise will be carried out also in other part of the country.
The Private Sector Manager of ODA, Mr. Joseph Lansana said that the idea of conducting a Diaspora Mapping exercise is to look at the strategic direction and challenges faced by diaspora businesses with a view of ODA building a business case for them and see how government can intervene. “As an institution, we believe that private sector goes a long way to complement the effort of government, it is consistent with the theme of the 2017 budget that is anchored around recovery and in line with the Agenda for Prosperity,’’ Mr. Lansana said. He furthered that, ODA want to quantify the impact created by diaspora businesses, so that they will motivate others sitting on the fence to do the same. He added that as an institution they believe the diaspora community has got a significant role to play, and part of their role is the stimulation of the much needed SMEs that will serve as the engine to the economic growth of the country, and also reduce the rate of unemployment.
Meanwhile, there is really an increase in diaspora led investment in Sierra Leone; ranging from small scale to bigger investments. Diasporans are investing in different sectors including health, road construction, medical, agriculture, education etc. There are number of outstanding diaspora investments that are creating jobs and contributing immensely to the development of the country. Some of these investments include: FINIC, GENTO Construction, Moving Roads Sierra Leone, Hill Valley, Garden State in Makeni, Bintex Inc, Canadian College at Mile Ninety One, Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP), SLCU Agric Business Institute, Dorothy Springer Trust, Seeds For Growth Foundation, SierraArker among others.