On Monday 7 February 2022, in Ethiopia, the President faced the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), to discuss investment opportunities in the transportation sector.

This year’s them is “Investing in multimodal transport to optimize the benefits of the African continental Free Trade: a focus on air transport and tourism”.

The President said part of Sierra Leone’s development strategy was to build a bridge from the current airport area in Lungi, northwest, to the capital city, Freetown. “Currently, a mix of ferry and private boats move people goods across. The economic and other benefits of a bridge that joins the two landmasses are immense. But there is a struggle mobilizing exclusively private capital to finance such a large venture.”

“…. Howe do we re-centre our economic growth strategies and priorities to include the development of transportation infrastructure, which is critical for attracting investment, and critical too for trade, sustained growth, and economic development?

The President said, “As a general premise, ships, boats, barges, trains, planes, and automobiles are all central to developing productive sectors of the economy and for supporting economic development. The need to overhaul or develop new maritime ports, riverain waterways, airports, roads, and rail networks is critical.”

The President noted that there was no doubt as leaders had agreed to boost intra-African trade, take in larger volumes of investment capital, expand countries’ economic productivity, and participate fully in the global market.”

He suggested, “The ratification and implementation, of intra-African agreements that facilitate trade and economic development is important because it improves connectivity and reduces costs.”

“Following the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, Sierra Leone was one of the first states to take the proactive step of drafting and validating a new National Trade Strategy, developed within the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

This was informed by 200 consultations undertaken with various stakeholders in-country, from the public sector (such as the ministries responsible for gender affairs), private sector associations, development partners, and think tanks,” he said. He, however, disclosed that beyond those policies his government was now looking for opportunities and possibilities, adding that a key part of their domestication plan included a coordination meeting that helped their partners align investments and efforts with the activities outlined in the strategy’s action plan.”

President Bio noted that as a result of implementing the AfCFTA, Sierra Leone was also working with ECA to update its industrialization policy and strategy on special economic zones in line with the expected structural transformation of the country’s economy.

“… by acceding to Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASAs) Sierra Leone has adopted liberal principles in the negotiation of air service agreements with a number of African states by removing restrictions and barriers on capacity, tariffs, and ownership control.

“Sierra Leone has also grappled head-on with challenges in the aviation industry. We are implementing urgent steps to improve ICAO safety oversight. We can maximise investor awareness of the potential market we offer by research on air freight volumes and air-passenger experience.

“Currently, we are working with a private Turkish company to improve airport infrastructure at the Lungi International Airport. We are constructing a modern terminal building with stat-of-the-art facilities,” he said.

News Watch Newspaper reports that, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Addresses UNECA Business Forum, Presents Investment Opportunities in Sierra Leone Transport Sector.

Established by the Economic and Social Council in 1958 as one of UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its 45 member states, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.