The ascendency of Musa Timothy Kabba as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources has been described by many as a huge blessing to Sierra Leone, due to his continued efforts in transforming the country’s mining industry with better deals.
Prior to his appointment in 2020, he was the Directorate-General of the Petroleum Directorate. As the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, he is charged with the responsibility for the implementation of the 2009 mines and mineral Act working in close partnership with the National Minerals Agency.
Unlike his predecessor, in his first month of office, Minister Kabba was able to resolve professionally the cancellation of licenses of operations for over 25 mining companies in the country and the legal battles between mining companies and the government of Sierra Leone.
“It is not always right to pursue your rights through legal means, we can also explore alternative conflict resolution,’’ Minister Kabba stated.
It has been a perennial problem that Sierra Leonean residents in mining communities have not been able to get a fair share of mining proceeds from their communities. However, Minister Kabba has changed this narrative by upholding the implementation of the Sierra Leone Customary Lands Rights Act and the Lands Commission Act.
The government of Sierra Leone and Arise IIP recently signed an agreement for the expansion of the current railway and port at Pepel to ensure competitiveness in the area of exporting the country’s minerals and also extends the rail to other agricultural districts and neighbouring countries. The new agreement which is worth around $476 million investment into Sierra Leone’s iron-ore- rich Northern region will facilitate the transfer control of the port from Leone Rock Metal Group previously [Kingho]. However, now that the country has done all possible to attract global industrial Icon, the destiny of the deal now rest on the shoulders of parliament for their swift approval.
According to the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy Kabba, this agreement is part of the bigger reforms in the mining sector, where the government intends to open the space for more players to participate.
He furthered that ARISE IIP is a credible company with a reputation for developing and managing infrastructure in Africa. “This agreement is taking a government asset from monopoly to be more accessible” he added.
The business plan, financial model and pre-feasibility studies are estimating a total investment of 476 million dollars covering the refurbishment of the Pepel Tonkolili Railway work, Pepel Port, Railway connectivity to Marampa mines, the introduction of passenger rail services and the rail connection to Guinea
The new agreement guarantees a more level playing field for all the mines in the Northern Corridor. Leone Rock and Marampa Mines can focus on their core business — mining, while Arise IIP will invest $476 million to expand the rail and port. Arise has a 25-year lease. They’ll add 25 kilometers to the rail, the infrastructure needed to increase exploration.
The deal is bound to change the nation’s unemployment challenges and food security narratives for something that will be a foreign exchange earner for the development of Sierra Leone. This deal is set to be a game changer for Sierra Leone to revamp its economy.
In 2022, Sierra Leone Parliament Signed two Laws; the Customary Land Rights Act and the Land Commission Act. The said laws give local landowners the power to negotiate the value of their land and compel all companies operating in Sierra Leone to obtain the consent of local communities before starting activities.
Mr. Kabba said the new laws made it easier to negotiate a better deal for the five chiefdoms who had already leased their lands to Leone Rock.
The new deal with ARISE is also in compliance with the customary Land Rights Act 2022 which guarantees the protection of land owners and frowns at the use of industrial development [mining, plantation, farming, housing] in protected conserved or ecological sensitive areas.
Last week, a group of Sierra Leonean Journalist left Sierra Leone to visit two countries where ARISE II Operates [Gabon and Benin Republic]. Their individual reports shows that, ARISE is a serious and major company operating in Africa.