It is a fact that the Diaspora plays a key role in the development of every country; beyond remittances, they promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses and spur entrepreneurship, and transfer knowledge and skills to their countries of origin. For this reason, the man of the moment Dr. Kaifala Marah APC Flagbearer Aspirant, on Friday 20th January 2023, hosted a Zoom Meeting with hundreds of Sierra Leonean diasporas drawn from all the continents, to share his blueprint vision dubbed “Our Vision of New Hope – A Decisive Choiec of Creating Wealth and Jobs”.

Dr. Marah sees the diaspora as an open opportunity space to change the development narrative in Sierra Leone based on their wealth of expertise and the support they provide to their families and the economy.

During the meeting, Dr Marah shared with them his step-by-step vision of how he wants to position the diasporas beyond the current status and build on the legacy of former President Koroma. “I want to position the diaspora in the driving seats of the economy so that together, we can move forward as a country,” said Dr. Marah.

He disclosed that he would adopt a trade and investment foreign policy that would require ambassadors and high commissioners to sign performance contracts with his office on the number of trade and investment opportunities they will bring into Sierra Leone on an annual basis. He said that the implementation of the contracts will be made public to enable citizens to track and hold his government to account.

The APC Flagbearer Aspirant revealed that he would create a Special Office of the Diasporas that will be charged with the responsibilities to seek the interest and welfare of the diaspora in areas of business registration, purchase of land, and other business and investment opportunities. He mentioned further that he would roll out a Diaspora Investment Initiative for those who will be ready to invest, for example, in eco-tourism, IT, and large-scale agriculture. He cited affordable housing as a special investment initiative his government will implement in partnership with the diaspora through which he would encourage all of them to invest along with their families.

He also made a fine point on clean and renewable energy as one of the investment opportunities that the diaspora should be willing to invest in.

Dr Marah hammered home the seriousness he would put on the issues surrounding dual citizenship which he would look into, and believes that the diaspora should be given the privilege to be dual citizens.

The APC Flagbearer Aspirant disclosed that he would resuscitate the “Young Entrepreneurship Fund” which will give young people the opportunity to start up their own businesses and companies upon graduation. “We need to create the enabling environment to grow young business men and women, and create wealth and jobs”, he said. He also alluded to his “Woman for Betteh Initiative” through which a special-purpose National Woman Bank will be established to give market women access to low-interest microfinance.

During the session, participants expressed their delight in the vision presented by Dr Marah. Mohamed Dumbuya, showered his adoration on the way and manner in which Dr Marah conducted himself during his term as Minister of Finance, especially the way he handled the country’s economy during that difficult period of Ebola outbreak.

Other participants expressed concerns about the high costs of shipping into the country as compared to neighbouring Guinea; another spoke about diaspora financing, the police, and mismanagement of the country’s natural resources by foreign investors with little or no proper checks and accountability.

Dr Marah responded by stating that he is not promising a magic bullet to solve all the issues here and now, but what he is sure about is his passion to drive change through the consolidation of peace, strengthening democratic institutions to perform their roles, setting up of watchdogs to monitor the conduct and affairs of these institutions.

He concluded that the country has endured more than 60 years of poverty, which has sadly grown in tandem with the population, and called on the diaspora and every Sierra Leonean to join him on the epic journey of changing Sierra Leone.

Dr Marah’s Vision of Hope document is available online for people to read and digest his vision to transform Sierra Leone into a wealth creation country

By Bah

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