|President Koroma Hails ADDAX Group’s Multi-Million-Dollar Biofuel Investment in Sierra Leone|
President Ernest Bai Koroma has on Tuesday 9th February 2010 hailed the large-scale agricultural investment of the Swiss-based Energy Corporation, Addax & Oryx Holdings BV and its Sierra Leone subsidiary Addax Bioenergy Sierra
Delivering the keynote address at a ceremony organized for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between
the government and the group at the project site at Lungi Acre in the Makarie/Gbanti chiefdom, Bombali District, northernerSierra Leone, President Koroma said, "Today is a very special day for me, the government, and people of Sierra Leone, especially the people of Bombali and Tonkolili districts, particularly those in the Makari/Gbanti, Malal Mara and Bombali Shebora chiefdoms" where the project is located.
He said the signing of the MOU was effectively giving the go-ahead for operations to resume. He said it's a big day for the government because the signing ceremony underlined his administration's commitment to ensuring that its pronounced policy of encouraging the private sector to take the lead in economic growth in Sierra Leone takes root. He furthered that the international reputation of both the Addax group and its bankers, willing to sign and bring in such huge investment to Sierra Leone, shows that the environment is conducive for anyone to do business. The investment underlines stability and orderliness in investing in Sierra Leone.
The President said this is the biggest agricultural project ever in the history of Sierra Leone with an approximated investment of $400 million in a couple of years: "When we talk about diversifying and investing in agriculture, this project sends a clear message to all that we back our intentions with actions." He said the irrigation techniques introduced through the project would be of immense importance to agricultural productivity in Sierra Leone generally when such techniques would have been adopted nationwide.
The project has the potential of being the number one employer in agriculture, as it would recruit about 4,000 employees when fully operational.
Apart from promoting agriculture, it would also bring much-needed boost in energy, as it would generate about 30 megawatts of electricity to be supplied into the national grid, eventually addressing the energy situation in both Freetown and the rural areas. The President also highlighted the advantages of the bio-fuel (ethanol) that would be produced, as it would lessen dependence on crude oil, even as vehicles and other machinery could use ethanol to run their engines.
The project would also certainly lessen the price of sugar as it would produce lots of sugar for the local market.
President Koroma paid special tribute to the Addax group's Chief Executive for believing in Sierra Leone, noting that his presence and contribution to the November trade and investment forum in London were glaring, and encouraging him to invest more in the country.
The President thanked Addax Country Representative Vincent Kanu whose friendship with the CEO, lasting over twenty years, has led to this investment. He also thanked the land owners for seeing reason and giving up their land for the benefit of the whole country. The Head of State also appreciated the efforts of various government officials and departments including the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade, Finance, and Energy who all signed on behalf of government. He urged all and sundry to work together in ensuring that the project succeeds, so that "we will have a complete story to tell."
The President ended by saying that he is eager for results, desperate to change the life of the ordinary man: "This country has been left behind for far too long and we need to move on fast. I don't want to look back at my presidency and say I had intentions but no actions," while hoping that full operations would start this year.
The occasion was chaired by the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Sam Sesay, while various statements were delivered by stakeholders, including Addax Group's CEO, the Member of Parliament of the area, the Paramount Chief and the Private Sector Adviser to the President. Te vote of thanks was given by Mr. Vincent Kanu, Addax's Country Representative.
THE Press Secreariat