President Ernest Bai Koroma will be leaving Sierra Leone to attend the 13th session of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) in Turkey, with a stop over in Lebanon to open the Consular office and also using his time to rebrand the country “that Sierra Leone is no longer ridden with ebola but it is ready for business.”

President Koroma addressing journalists at State House

Speaking to journalists on Thursday at State House, the President said now that “ebola is behind us we have to embark on rebranding Sierra Leone, we have to go out there tell the true story about the country”.

He said during his visit to Lebanon he will be meeting with the Prime Speaker and business community for them have a true picture of what is happening now because out there people don’t follow up events out here.

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For the Lebanese community “I believe we have a long standing business relationship” and they should be informed of what is happening in the country in terms of business as “we have continued to make new legislation”, one with the Local Content Policy and this new legislation, the president believes “there has to be some shift in terms of our private sector engagement.”

President Koroma disclosed “we have to make concrete effort to move away from the buying and selling aspect of business transactions that a good number of our people are involved in, to some kind of value addition processes that will lay the basis for manufacturing and industrialisation.”

Stating that with a shift “it is going to be the root to sustainable economic development, we cannot continue to just buy and sell. We have to try and add value to what we sell, we must work on improving our agricultural process – adding value to them, and in the mineral sector, we must now work towards ensuring that our diamonds that are exported are cut and polished in the country, it will not only create jobs, it will have value to the exporter, we have to ensure that our iron ore, rutile and others go through the initial processes.”

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He said “all of these issues are what I will seize the moment to discuss with the community out there, but we have to make some progress, we have been buying and selling for close to a century now we have to add value. If Sierra Leone has to sustain its economic growth we have to add value to our products. This is a message not only for meeting but a message that will be trumpeted out there as we start the rebranding process after the ebola.”

Speaking about the OIC conference in Istanbul, Turkey, President Ernest Bai Koroma said “we have our international obligations and commitment that is why, I will be travelling for the 13th OIC summit.”

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He explained that the OIC was set up to promote solidarity for economic and social development among member states and “we have a major feature that the OIC has been addressing which is the Palestine issue, but for the purpose of this meeting we will be looking at the ‘unity and solidarity for justice and peace’”.

The President disclosed that this theme was selected as the world is faced with attacks from terrorists who are promoting their ideas in the guise of Islam and for Africa. He cited issues in Libya, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan, saying “we will use this summit to address some of these issues and proffer solutions and find a way how we can support peace measures that have already been established.”