Sierra Leone’s Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Richard K. Konteh has on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, signed an agreement with FIRST STEP and Shamshi Private Ltd for the development of a steel manufacturing and semi–captive power plant valued $180 million in Sierra Leone.
The signing ceremony which took place in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, saw a good number of Sierra Leoneans showering heaps of praise on the President Ernest Bai Koroma led Government, for making Sierra Leone to be the first West African nation to embark on such a capital intensive program that will not only lessen the unemployment rate, but reduce poverty also.
According to Dr. Konteh, the Steel Manufacturing and Semi – captive power plant will be established in the Northern Port – Loko district.
According to FIRST STEP President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Schroeder, “I am extremely excited to be embarking on this new initiative. “The company will manufacture steel reinforcing bars (re-bar) that are essential to infrastructure development – buildings, roads, bridges etc. Re – bar, used in reinforcing concrete, which forms the basis of most infrastructure and construction projects.
It will also generate 30MW of power, using three sources – 16MW from waste heat, 4MW from waste char and 10MW of thermal power.
The Chief Executive Officer Richard Schroeder recalled two years ago when FIRST STEP was just a concept being discussed around conference tables in World Hope International (WHI) and said today, “we have a unique and expertly crafted agreement with the government of Sierra Leone that creates a legal framework under which we have established the FIRST STEP Special Economic Zone (SEZ).”
In February 2010, the agreement was unanimously ratified by Sierra Leone’s Parliament. “I am honored by the opportunity to lead FIRST STEP and I am very proud of the accomplishments we have made so far.
“However, I am also humbled by just how dependent our success has been on the goodwill, trust, and support that so many people have extended to us. FIRST STEP is organized as a for-profit corporation with WHI currently holding 75% of FIRST STEP’s equity and a private social venture capitalist holding the remaining 25%.
Under the FIRST STEP agreement with the government of Sierra Leone, any dividends that WHI earns on its equity holdings in FIRST STEP must be reinvested into humanitarian efforts in Sierra Leone.
Addressing the North America All People’s Congress (APC) chapter at the prestigious Madison Suites Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey on Sunday August 26th, Dr. Richard Konteh said President Ernest Bai Koroma has changed the wrong perceptions about Sierra Leone through “the Agenda for Change policy”, and has showcased the Country’s available opportunities to the world.
He said President Ernest Bai Koroma has always assured foreign and local investors of his government’s firm commitments towards liberalizing the economy, and establishing an efficient and effective business environment. Dr. Konteh said Sierra Leone is Africa’s newest investment destination, with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.