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ICF announces two projects to increase investor confidence in Sierra Leone Press Release
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Apr 6, 2009, 18:52
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ICF announces two projects to increase investor confidence in Sierra Leone

PRESS RELEASE

Freetown, Sierra Leone 03 April 2009 The Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, today announced a project to improve Sierra Leones airport infrastructure to help make troublesome travel a thing of the past for visitors to the West African country. A second ICF project, also announced today, will speed up commercial justice and dispute resolution in Sierra Leone.

The two year airport transfer project aims to drastically improve connections for air passengers between Freetown and Sierra Leones International Airport. The international airport, situated on the Lungi Peninsula in the Port Loko district, is 176km away from the capital city. Air transfer by road currently takes between five and seven hours, with many roads still severely dilapidated due to damage and neglect inflicted during the civil unrest of the 1990s. Other alternative transfer options, which include ferry, hovercraft, helicopter and taxi boats, are generally considered expensive, unreliable or inconvenient. Services are often not compatible with international flight times, leading to long waits at the airport.

ICF believes a more modern and reliable transfer system between Freetown and the international airport will provide a significant boost to the countrys investment climate. The two-year project will set up an Airport Transfer Unit (ATU) to oversee the licensing and monitoring of transfers to and from the airport. ATU will build on existing laws and regulations to streamline the airport transfer regulatory and administrative framework while also looking into training and capacity building, as well as improving office and IT infrastructure. The project will also improve jetties and terminal facilities and encourage the private sector to provide more competitive and reliable ferry and boat services.

The Chief Executive Officer of ICF, Mr Omari Issa, said: "The current difficulties associated with travelling between Freetown and the international airport represent a real obstacle to the Government of Sierra Leones efforts to unlock the countrys investment and tourism potential. We are confident that this new project will help provide regular, efficient and safe transport to and from the airport and will do much to encourage investors who may previously have been deterred by the existing infrastructure."

A second ICF project, also announced today, will look into transforming Sierra Leones commercial justice system. The Government of Sierra Leone has recognised the importance of a reliable and efficient Commercial Justice system to increase investor confidence, with the President recently establishing a task force to set up a Fast Track Commercial Court (FTCC) in Freetown. ICF will work closely with the Government and FTCC to speed up commercial litigation and reduce the estimated backlog of 1,500 commercial cases. Commercial disputes in Sierra Leone currently take between two and six years to resolve in some cases even longer. The 18-month partnership with ICF aims to reduce these times to three months for cases without trial and six months for cases which go to a full trial.

ICFs Mr Omari Issa continued: "Both these projects will deliver real and tangible progress to Sierra Leone, helping the country to fulfil its investment and economic potential. Together with the Government of Sierra Leone, we hope to deliver long-lasting improvements that will deliver benefits to business, investors and civil society and that can then be shared with other African countries."

ICF is the only pan-African body, based in Africa, explicitly and exclusively focused on improving the continents investment climate. It works with receptive African governments to systematically remove constraints to investment in order to make the continent an even better place to do business. ICF is currently active in Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as on a number of pan-African projects.

For more information on ICF visit www.icfafrica.org


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