For poor underdeveloped countries like Sierra Leone with very little capital on their own to invest in the productive sectors to create much needed jobs, as a way up and out of poverty, Direct Foreign Investments help enormously to strengthen and diversify the Sierra Leone economy.
With the former and the present post-war government of Sierra Leone very eager to attract credible direct foreign investments that not only crucially create much needed jobs for the country’s teeming unemployed youths, more important are DFIs that crucially invest in viable commercial enterprises that can both produce goods for local consumption; as well as export to help solve the country’s crying need for foreign exchange.
Socfin never grabbed the lands of the people of Sahn Malen. It argued the lands in an above manner after holding extensive negotiations with the land owners, with the involvement of the traditional leaders, the government and civil society organizations.
FIAN International’s MD, Florence Kroff and her local partner, Green Scenery’s Joe Rahall have time without numbers done all they can to paint Socfin’s operations in SahnMalen as an example of post-colonial exploitation of Africans by former colonialist capitalists, though FIAN denies responsibility for the contents of Green Scenery’s publications. The truth of the matter is far from that.
Socfin’s nearly twelve years stay and long term investment plan gives hope to the Government of Sierra Leone that the country’s economy can be diversified from depending on the mining sector. Moreover, Socfin has helped the government to realize huge revenue from the sector through export duties.
The impact of Socfin on the economy was captured by the Minister of Finance, Jacob JusuSaffa in his 2018 Budget Statement and Economic and Financial policies for the Financial year 2019 in the Well of Sierra Leone Parliament in paragraph 19 when he told MPs that, “…the performance of the external sector improved during the first half of 2018. Total value of exports for the period January to June 2018 is estimated at US$518.8 million. The sharp increase in exports is accounted for primarily by the export of palm oil by SOCFIN Agricultural Company…”
Socfin is not a fly-by-night company that was established through the back-door. It followed to the letter the laws of Sierra Leone.
On the land lease issue, Socfin began on a very fruitful relationship with the people of SahnMalen – from land lease negotiation through the Government, to massive employment of youths and investing of millions of United State Dollars to establish the biggest palm oil plantation in West Africa.
It was most unfortunate that immediately the company started harvesting and exporting its produce, misunderstanding ensued between the company and the people brainwashed by civil societies like Green Scenery into believing that they deserve more than what was being given to them. This led to series of riots and destabilization of the operations of the company.
Green Scenery also accuses Socfin of land grabbing, completely ignorant of the agreement between the company, the landowners, traditional authorities represented by Paramount Brima V. S. Kebbie and the Government.
Unsubstantiated human rights allegations and all sorts of unhealthy campaigns have also been put up by Member of Parliament Hon. Samato cripple the operations of the company.
CSR – SOCFIN’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO SAHN MALEN AND PUJEHUN
The biggest non-mining DFI Company in Sierra Leone, Socfin not only provides thousands of jobs for Sierra Leoneans but continues to contribute to the country’s economic growth.Beyond fulfilling its CSR, Socfin continues to invest significantly in the following sectors.
• To support the people of SahnMalen in agriculture, Socfin is directly involved in the yearly cultivation of 600 acres of boli-land with floating rice varieties for people within the company’s operation.
• Distributes annually 800 bushels of seed rice for inland valley swamp cultivation
• Distributes 351 bushels of groundnut seeds to 16 Women’s groups in Malen Chiefdom
• Construction of four fish ponds – one each in Kpangba, Gboyama, Jumbu and Senehun
• Supply of 135 bundles of fishing nets with accessories to four fishing communities; Gangama, Hongai, Massao and Kortumahun in Malen Chiefdom
Providing medical facility in many parts of the country remains a challenge for the Government. People walk long distances from the district to major towns for medical services.
• SAC has invested hundreds of millions of Leones in the rehabilitation and supply of furniture to Niahun Clinic; reconstruction and electrification of Sengema Health Quarters; and Electrification of Sengema, Taninahun and Bendu Clinics
• Supplied Hospital beds to Niahun, Sengema, Taninahun and Bendu Clinics and furniture to Sengema Clinic
• Ambulance services for Malen Community with all expenses paid for by the company.
• Construction of one facility at Sahn and the provision of 24 hours electricity and water supply to the center
The 30-35 literacy rate of Sierra Leone is far below other countries in the sub-region because majority of rural children in Sierra Leone cannot get access to schools within their localities. Changing this narrative requires not only the intervention of Government, but also the private sector. Even before the proclamation of the Free Quality Education by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, Socfin had invested money in education in the Chiefdom.
• Construction of the new primary schools in Bendu, Mallay, Kortumahun and Sinjo
• Rehabilitation of Malen Junior secondary school and Kassay primary school
• Provided them with learning materials to facilitate teaching
• Sanitation facilities provided by rehabilitating water supply and the development of modern toilet facilities for these schools
• Payment of stipends to 9 teachers who were not on Government payroll and 2 security personnel in Malen Junior Secondary School, one teacher in RC School in Sahn and one teacher in Bendu Primary School.
• Payment of scholarship to 220 students; amounting to Le83, 000,000 (Eighty- three Million Leones) for BECE Students with aggregate 25 and below from Malen
Junior Secondary School
• Support of transport and feeding to BECE Students taking examination in Pujehun
• Support of transport and feeding to NPSE Pupils and their teachers in Socfin’s operational areas taking examination in Sahn
• Rehabilitation of Malen Junior Staff Quarters
• Financial support to all schools during the June 16th Day of the African
To support the growth of small scale/medium enterprise in the chiefdom, Socfin has provided micro finance to 102 petty traders in 27 communities in Malen Chiefdom with over 200 Million Leones seed money
Water and Sanitation:
Socfin has provided water-wells with hand pumps and latrines in all its operational areas which have helped reduce the outbreak of cholera in the chiefdom
Infrastructural development has been paramount in Socfin`s operation seen in:
• Construction of community halls in every village in its areas of operation
• Construction of football fields in village communities
• Rehabilitation of praying fields in village communities
• Construction and equipping of Malen Community Radio Station, worth more than Fifty Thousand United States Dollars
• Construction of roads, bridges and culverts in all communities in Socfin’s operational areas
• Construction of the Central Mosque in Sahn and the rehabilitation of Mosques in villages
OVERALL IMPACT OF SOCFIN’S OPERATIONS ON SAHN MALEN AND PUJEHUN
Sahn Malen Chiefdom that once was a sleepy economy has now with Socfin’s investment become a hub for job seekers not only from the district but also from other parts of the country.
Source: The Satellite News, 15/02/2020