Saudi Prince Alwaleed Satisfied with Sierra Leone

The Chairman of one of the world's most successful diversified investment companies has reiterated his interest to invest in Sierra Leone.

In a brief interview with His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the ‘highly reputed’ Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) at his 66th floor Kingdom tower offices early this week, he expressed optimism in the Sierra Leone economy.

He said he was impressed with the current development strides in the country and the nation’s good governance record. “I want to activate a strong relationship with Sierra Leone, in whatever area we may find suitable.”

From my last visit to Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ghana, the Prince added, I observed that Sierra Leone is one the best destinations for any serious businesses looking to invest in Africa. He said his company has interests in most African countries in hotels, cement production, banking, oil and charity projects.

The globally renowned Saudi investor furthered that he would send a team to Sierra Leone in furtherance of the issues raised during his last visit to Sierra Leone in the not too distant future.

 It could be recalled that the billionaire Prince visited Sierra Leone to explore investment opportunities on Monday 10th June, 2013. During the visit, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma decorated His Royal Highness with the highest National Award in the country, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone (GCRSL).

The Saudi Prince also realized during his visit that His Excellency the President was an astute, assiduous and dedicated leader who cared for his people. The heavy weight Saudi investor knew that the President was genuine in his desire to alleviate hunger, poverty and disease among his people. Consequently, the celebrated Saudi Prince found an entry point by opting to promote President Koroma’s Free Health Care Initiative for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five, and youth empowerment which is highly on the President’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity’.

On his return to Saudi Arabia, the Prince transferred US$1 million to the Sierra Leone Government through Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation to help promote the Free Healthcare Initiative and Youth Empowerment without any string attached.

Though the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sierra Leone have enjoyed bilateral and economic relationship spanning from the late 1970’s, the visit of HRH Prince Alwaleed to Sierra Leone was a re-assurance of the concrete relationship that has existed between the two countries. It was also an indication that the bilateral and economic relationship between the two countries was growing from strength to strength.

Prince Alwaleed’s plan to invest in Sierra Leone big time comes as a time when we have a patriotic leader whose Government is determined to reform the country in the areas of infrastructure development, energy, streamlining tax administration, creating business friendly environment that would attract more investors, fast-tracking commercial courts and cutting red tape.

The Koroma administration has also introduced the local content policy aimed at prioritizing employment for Sierra Leoneans, especially the youth who are largely unemployed. Under President Koroma’s administration, Sierra Leone has been ranked as one of the five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for investor protection, indicating that the country has provided the appropriate atmosphere conducive for both local and foreign direct investment.

The billionaire Prince, who is biased towards investment, is a Western trained businessman. He is a man who has huge investments in almost every nook of the world; he is a man who is ready to invest in whatever legal form of project that he believes can yield dividends; and he is a man who is so compassionate about the abject poverty of nations of the developing countries.

He has investments in Africa in sectors such as Tourism, Infrastructure, Real Estate and Telecommunications. That indicates his interest in that continent for economic and social prosperity.  Prince Alwaleed, for example, has 5-Star hotels in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, to name but a few. He is ranked by Forbes, Time Magazine, and many other influential publications among the most influential businessmen and investors in the world.

Al Waleed received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Menlo College in California in 1979. He then received a Master's degree in Social Science with honors from Syracuse University, New York, in 1985. He was recently described by the widely read Arabian Business Magazine as "the world's richest Arab".

According to the renowned Forbes Magazine, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company, of which he owns 95% and which trades on the Saudi stock exchange, owns stakes in hotel management companies, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Raffles Holding, as well as hotel real estate such as the swanky Hotel George V in Paris and a stake in the Savoy Hotel in London.

Kingdom Holding, according to the Magazine, also owns billions of dollars of U.S. and international equities, including shares of Citigroup and News Corp.  In 2012, the Prince and Kingdom Holding bought an estimated 3% stake in Twitter, a popular social networking site, via the secondary market for $300 million.

With the vast potential Sierra Leone has, the KHC Chairman is ready to use the opportunity to heavily invest in that country, given the favourable conditions for business, which have attracted direct foreign investment in several sectors, including the Mining Industry, Tourism, Agriculture, Marine, Energy, amongst others.

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Critique Echo Newspaper is a major source of news and objective analyses about governance, democracy and human-right. Edited and published in Kenema city, eastern Sierra Leone, the outlet is generally referred to as a level plying ground for the youths, women and children.

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