Calabash_Issue 9 Apr. 2014 - Page 11

business Mine construction underway and registration is free. Companies such as Splash are taking Sierra Leone into the technological era whilst also providing jobs for locals. Also, it seems that more investment and construction will mean more jobs and a better quality of life for the 70.2 % of locals who live below the poverty line, with a life expectancy of only 50 years, and a shocking NA% registered as unemployed (as according to the World Fact Book). However, as effective as foreign investment into the country may be: what of the indigenous people of Sierra Leone? There is a fear shared by some Sierra Leoneans, that they could soon be regarded as second-class citizens in their own country, because of their lack of finances which does not enable them to invest. Already residents have stated, “We have been told that we must move out of our homes to make way for some developments, if this happens we will be out on the streets”. It has also been suggested that with the reconstruction of Sierra Leone, Chinese businesses may bring their own workers into the country rather than using domestic labour- as they have already done in Algeria and Sudan. This then may force Sierra Leonean’s to sit back and watch as developments are being made, but yet, the profits are not being invested in poorer regions or as wages for locals. One could also question whether Sierra Leone’s reflex action, of prostrating its hand out towards the West, in the hope of salvation, will later cause modern-day slavery and colonisation to erupt again. Residents have already complained about the treatment that is experienced by some, who say that investors speak and treat them rudely. Does this mean that just because another country decides to invest and help a nation, that nation should be regarded as inferior? This is not an attack on foreign investment, because, (as noted before) it is this investment is exactly what is sustaining the Sierra Leone economy and causing other nations to see the potential of the once war-torn land. The only concern is that the welfare and national pride of Sierra Leone should not be sacrificed “We have been told that we must move out of our homes to make way for some developments, if this happens we will be out on the streets” merely because some people do not have the resources to make major economical change in their country. Countries, such as Dubai, are successful and will probably continue to grow economically, not only because of foreign investment; but also because their government realises the importance of its indigenous people being actively involved in the country’s development. If a visitor to Dubai wants to invest or set up a business, they have to part-own with a citizen. This scheme not only encourages investment and business, but also ensures that citizens are actively involved in the financial reaping within their country; there is equality! There are many affluent individuals living in Sierra Leone who could invest and make a great profit and difference, if only the resources were managed properly. An example of this is in the Gambia, its main export is ground nuts, and yet its people are in a better state than Sierra Leone. Nevertheless, whilst Sierra Leone is overflowing with diamonds (with an estimated, annual profit of $250-300million) and other resources, it is not immediately obvious to their citizens where the proceeds are going, with an annual inflation rate of 8.5%. Foreign investment is very beneficial for the Sierra Leone economy, especially from the Chinese who have continuously shown an interest in Sierra Leone during and after the civil war. Historically, the Chinese have paid attention to many African countries as far back as the cold war, China paid for stadiums, dams and most famously the Tanzam railway between Zambia and Tanzania. However, as much as Sierra Leone appreciates this, it is highly advisable that citizens remember their worth, and not underestimate their strength and capacity (no matter how big or small) to make effective contributions to their country’s progression. They should stand up and be counted as equals. Freetown issue nine | Calabash Magazine | 9