Freetown International Conference Centre, Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen, Monday 24 May 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has launched the geodata and exhibition by the National Minerals Agency, NMA, showcasing the country’s mineral wealth and potentials, promoting investment and looking forward to a sustainable future.
Welcoming participants to the event, Director General of NMA, Julius Daniel Mattai, said despite challenges posed by the Coronavirus the gathering showed that Sierra Leone was making progress in sanitising the minerals sector.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this geodata launch and exhibition forms a critical part of our government’s agenda to rebuild confidence and attracting investment into the minerals sector of Sierra Leone’s economy. This maiden event provides a perfect setting for long-lasting and meaningful investment in this country and for its development,” he noted.
Mr. Mattai also stated that Sierra Leone was endowed with abundant mineral wealth and natural resources but characterised by multidimensional poverty. He assured that the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and his agency were working harder to see a turnaround and a much further inroad in terms of growth in the sector with large investment potential.
The outgoing World Bank Country Manager, Gayle Martin, commended the government of Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Bio for the progress that led to the event of the launch of the GeoData and Exhibition, saying that critical to the post-Covid-19 recovery was the extractive sector, which she emphasised if managed well would transform Sierra Leone’s economy.
She also noted that the GeoData was financed by the World Bank because they knew it would help lift people out of poverty, adding that the data would not only support the mining sector but it would also help other areas necessary for national development.
“Under the able leadership of President Bio, the government has embarked on a growth strategy that focuses on economic diversification. Economic diversification does not mean moving away from extractives, but rather to optimise the growth in other sectors to protect the economy from negative shocks,” Gayle noted.
Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Musa Timothy Kabba, said that he was grateful to the President for the confidence in him to serve in the ministry, saying that they had taken huge steps by acquiring the geological data which would be critical for the optimisation of benefits from the minerals sector.
He further stated that the geodata would serve a useful function in guiding government’s decision relevant to the exploitation of mineral wealth, adding that they were critical in shaping government’s strategy in transitioning from a first-come-first-serve system for the award of mineral right to a competitive bidding system.
“With this launch, Your Excellency, Sierra Leone has once again demonstrated, under your leadership, that it is a competitive destination in Africa for investment in the mines and minerals sector,” he noted.
In his keynote address, President Bio said that: “I am not here to do a symbolic launch and walk away to my office. I am here to speak to friends, partners, and potential investors present and not present. I am here to share with you what we have done about the mining sector over the last three years.”
Director General of NMA, Julius Daniel Mattai
The President also stressed that he was at the event to listen very keenly to people’s thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
“Previous speakers have also provided the technical detail associated with the Nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey. I am informed that because we used close-line spacing and low ground clearance, we have generated one of the best high-resolution countrywide geophysical data in the world.
“I want to assure you that we will create even more opportunities to sit down and talk; to think together; to cooperate; to reach consensus; and to work together to further develop the extractives sector and make it even more viable for investors and their shareholders, the Government, communities, and the country as a whole.
“As I have always said, I want that relationship to be built on mutual trust with all parties being transparent, patient, and clear about pursuing a win-win outcome,” he concluded.
President Bio thanked the World Bank for their staunch support through the Extractive Industries Technical Assistance Project 2 – EITAP 2, reminding them that in both the New Direction Manifesto and the country’s Medium-Term National Development Plan, the components of the EITAP 2 project, as outlined earlier by the World Bank representative, were aligned with the government’s strategic objectives to strengthen governance, knowledge, and sustainability of the extractives sector in Sierra Leone, and to maximise its contribution to national development.
“Permit me, Honourable Chairman, to add that because they are not renewable, we must govern the extractives sector diligently so that it benefits our investors, our communities, the nation, and our environment. Let us use those non-renewable resources therefore as we may not have done in the last 90 years. Let us use them to facilitate inclusive and sustainable national development. I thank you for your leadership in championing progressive legislation for the extractives sector.
“But we have also been working on the ecosystem for win-win investments in the extractives sector. Our peaceful democracy has recently been selected to develop a Millennium Corporation Challenge Compact for consistently passing the control of corruption indicator, ruling justly, and for respecting economic freedoms. Our laws and regulations that protect investments meet international best standards. From the perspective of the country’s best interests and those most affected by mining activities, my Government works to promote transparent, fair, and equitable agreements,” he concluded.