In collaboration with the Ad Hoc Committee on the Marketing of Produce, the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) on Saturday 4th October 2008 held a day’s meeting at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill in Freetown.
|Mr. Henry Fofanah, SLIEPA Export Officer
In his welcome address, SLIEPA Export Officer, Mr. Henry Fofanah said the meeting was aimed at resuscitating the Sierra Leone Exporters Association.
“SLIEPA which commenced operations three months ago was established by an Act of Parliament in 2007,” Mr. Fofanah disclosed, adding that the institution was set up to develop the country’s agriculture, mining and marine sectors and to help investors in the export of their products.
|Members of the High Table
Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone Indigenous Business Association (SLIBA), Victoria Williams, who also doubles as Chairperson for the meeting said exporting is a very important issue with regards the development of the country and therefore appealed to exporters to work hands in gloves to revitalize the export business.
“The purpose of this meeting is to partner with SLIEPA and help improve the indigenous business sector,” she concluded.
Speaking on the relevance of the exporters and the way forward, the Chairman Ad Hoc Committee on the Marketing of Produce, Mr. I.K Turay intimated that that the exporters association was established during the NPRC military government in 1995 with Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as Minister of Trade and Industry.
“The Exporters association is an important body which has served as a pressure group to benefit its members from other stakeholders,” he pointed out, adding by expressing his optimism that the association will be able to secure better services for its members.
He sized the opportunity to appeal to shipping agencies to be providing ventilated containers for agricultural products since they are perishable goods.
“Exporters association will act as a guarantor to secure finances for its members so that the economy should be in the hands of the indigenes,” he promised, adding that the association will also be in position to secure export documentation.
Mr. Turay assured that the association will compliment the effort of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Agency (SLIEPA) and will find the market for export purposes.
Highlighting the challenges presently faced by the association, Mr. Turay pointed out that lack of adequate knowledge of export procedures, lack of adequate information on the export market, lack of adequate facilities to supply are among the various challenges.
“There is the need also to look into the issue of warehouse facilities, creation of export guarantee scheme and to aid members with funds,” he noted.
At the meeting, there were frank and interesting deliberations on the difficulties encountered in the export business.
At the end of the day, a committee comprising members of SLIEPA, SLIBA and the Exporters Association was formed to look into the activities of exporters as time progresses.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.