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Presidential trips are essential for foreign investment

8 February 2020 at 21:36 | 1288 views

Commentary

Presidential trips abroad essential for foreign investment

By Santigie Momoh, Freetown, Sierra Leone

President Bio is being criticized by some members of the opposition who accuse him of too much travelling abroad. They often come up with nightmarish sums of money they cannot justify or explain.

The most recent accusation came from Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray (photo), a low-level political party leader who said the president and his team have spent about 30 billion Leones in foreign travels for the month of January 2020 alone. He however failed to present a trip by trip analysis of the month including how much was spent on plane tickets, accommodation and so on.

Of course Kamarainba knew he was lying; he also knew he will not be asked to provide evidence or taken to court to provide details, because that would simply be a waste of government time and resources. The accusation is so serious that it will merit a 50 Billion Leones court fine if it’s proved false. Where will Kamarainba get that kind of money?

Anyway, I would like Kamarainba and people who think like him to realise that in the modern world leaders in developing countries now have to travel outside their countries to market those countries as investment destinations. Potential investors will be very happy to talk directly to a Head of State of a country and explore possibilities with them. They can still talk to Ministers and ambassadors but talking to a president is a huge bonanza for them because all their concerns will be directly addressed and a presidential business card is a guarantee and passport or access card that is likely to open all doors to them in the country concerned. Also, they are likely to receive the president’s direct phone number, something that will quickly clear all bottlenecks in the country they are visiting to see for themselves.

So, a presidential trip is a direct investment to bring in investors in the current highly competitive investment environment. Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana to name just three countries, have presidents that travel a lot; not for fun, but to seek investment possibilities. They fervently believe in trade, not aid. Consequently their countries are doing quite well economically with investors pouring in almost every month. That investment is providing a lot of jobs for their people and revenue for their government in the form of taxes.

As every serious business owner knows, you have to go out and look for customers in addition to online advertising. They customers don’t usually come to you; you have to go out and talk to them in conferences, business meetings, trade fairs and so on.

Just last week 300 tourists came to Sierra Leone. That did not happen by magic. It definitely has to do with a trip or two by the president and his Tourism minister not too long ago.

Online advertising helps but person to person contacts are far better.

That’s what President Julius Maada Bio and his government are doing for the people of Sierra Leone.

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