... investment in housing, navigation satellite, gold refinery underway
September 12, 2018
By Joseph S. Margai in Beijing
Julianan Evelyn Stark, a Chinese-American investor hopes to create jobs and boost Sierra Leone's economy
A Chinese-American investor, Juliana Evelyn Stark, has told this medium in an exclusive interview that she is determined to invest massively in Sierra Leone, thereby creating jobs for Sierra Leoneans and improving standard of living in the country.
Ms. Stark, whose company, United Nations Commutech Group, based in New York, is set to commence operations in Sierra Leone. She was speaking to Concord Times at the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Beijing after deliberation with Ambassador Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina.
She said her company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Sierra Leone, under the one belt one road policy put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping to invest in several projects, including navigation satellite, mining gold and diamonds, housing project, economic free zone, timber factories, gold refineries, among others.
"For the first phase of the investment, which will start in October this year, we will start to invest in navigation satellite, infrastructure which includes housing, and economic free zone. In this economic free zone, we will be able to open the global door to Sierra Leone, and that will subsequently attract more investment that will better the lives of all Sierra Leoneans," she said.
Ms. Stark said they first have to check the availability of airspace in Sierra Leone and afterwards set up a navigation satellite which will not only cover the entire country but seven other neighbouring countries.
In a related development, Hon. Hassan A. Sesay, All People's Congress (APC) parliamentary representative of constituency 50 in Tonkolili district, said they were in China to further cement a relationship that was established by the former head of chancery (HOC) in the United Nations Mission in New York, involving some Chinese investors.
"This former HOC then came to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Freetown to further strengthen the relationship with the Chinese investors. He took them to Sierra Leone Import and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and Parliament. Parliament, through the Leader of Government Business, Hon. [Sidi] Tunis, including APC [Parliamentary] Leader, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah, set up a team to work with these investors," he explained.
The opposition lawmaker revealed that they were also in China to meet with potential investors that have resources to invest in various sectors in Sierra Leone, adding that the sectors include but not limited to communication, fisheries, economic free zone, housing and infrastructure.
"In our various meetings with potential investors, we have been emphasising on value addition in our natural resources in Sierra Leone. We don't only need them to extract and export them but we want to see them setting up refinery factories in the country and that will also create massive employment," he said.
Hon. Sesay said that in the area of furniture, they have agreed with potential investors to set up factories that would process timber into finished products for export and local consumption.
"By doing so, it will bring foreign exchange to our country, which will subsequently enhance the value of Sierra Leone's currency, the Leones. We don't want to always get an issue of fluctuating currency. Our aim is to get a stronger currency, which will eventually lead to economic growth. This project has a component of training people to become specialised in certain modern development techniques. Our efforts will virtually create millions of jobs, and it will lead to better infrastructure," he said.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leone's Ambassador to China and eleven other countries, H.E. Ernest Ndomahina, said that President Bio's envisions transforming Sierra Leone into a modern state with the requisite infrastructure, technology, industrialisation, education, innovation, among others.
He noted that any investment that has potential to enhance all of the above would be highly welcome in the country.
"I'm here to tap into any opportunity that has the potential of realising President Bio's vision for our beloved country. The United Nations Commutech Group is one among many other investments that are aligned to start operation in Sierra Leone. The 'New Direction' is serious about investment and we will stop at nothing that will undermine this drive," he said.
An entrepreneur-cum-diplomat, Ambassador Ndomahina, had worked tirelessly to attract potential investors to Sierra Leone.
Described by many Sierra Leoneans in Beijing as a go-getter, he told this medium that he was not an arm-chair ambassador, noting that since his appointment as ambassador to China, he immediately started to work on any opportunity that would be beneficial to the country.
Juliana Evelyn Stark (first-right) posed with Ambassador Ndomahina (third-right) and some lawmakers currently in China