Sierra Leone, China sign $8bn deal

2013-07-06 10:29

Freetown - Sierra Leone's President Ernest Koroma said on Friday that he had signed deals for a new international airport, a railway and raft of other huge construction projects totalling $8bn during a recent visit to China.

Koroma, who returned from the week-long trip on Wednesday, said the business included a $1.7bn deal with the Kingho Energy Group to build a port, mine, power plant and 250km railway.

He said he had also finalised a $300m deal with the Chinese Railway International Company to build a new international airport 60km from the capital Freetown.

Sierra Leone's only international airport is based in Lungi, 12km across a river to the north of downtown Freetown, a former British airbase during the first and second world wars which became a commercial airport.

Visitors have to choose between a four hour road journey to the capital, a crossing in an aged ferry or a faster water taxi. Helicopter transfers stopped in 2011, four years after 22 people, including the Togolese sports minister, died as their chopper crashed and burst into flames.

"I am happy to say that the Chinese have made a very serious commitment to support us in our development programmes," said Koroma, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit.

"We committed both countries to increasing co-operation and mutual support in meeting the common aspirations of peace, development and reform of the United Nations and Sierra Leone's support for the 'One China' policy," he added.

Sierra Leone remains one of the world's poorest countries after a brutal 11-year civil war which ended in 2002, but its mineral riches - which include diamond, gold, bauxite, titanium ore and magnetite iron-ore - have attracted massive investments.

The railway from the northern mining district of Tonkolili to the southern coastal town of Sulima will be the second in Sierra Leone funded by China.

Iron ore miner African Minerals owns a 120km line built by another Chinese firm which transports raw ore to a specially constructed port in the north of the country for export.

  • Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 10:41

    Thank god for China. The IMF and the World Bank only made African economies bleed. At least this infrastructural development will benefit ordinary Africans, instead of lining up the pockets of corrupt politicians.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 12:37

      There is evidence to suggest that information sharing is increasing so that if a Chinese company does a good job they are the ones that get the next contract. This issue is generally discussed in terms of 'the Chinese' and 'Africa' but that doesn't really do justice to the fact there are a massive range of projects going on across the continent which different parties are responsible for. I feel there is a general narrative at the moment that creates the impression the Chinese cannot be trusted and are exploiting poor, naïve Africans who must therefore still need the more virtuous Western nations to protect them.

      Marli Hippie - 2013-07-07 14:12

      I'm not disagreeing with you but it's not exactly social development if the workers are exported from China. They're only developing China rather than Sierra Leone, if you look at the big picture.

  • Mpho L Mashegoane - 2013-07-06 11:27

    OBAMA IS FEELING SICK Wherever he be.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 12:34

      That is because westerners don't like paying, they believe that they hae a god given right to plunder Africa. That is the real reason why there is so much complaint from the West. We Africans on the other hand say, “The more the merrier, bring cash!”

  • Sbonelo Bulose - 2013-07-06 11:33

    This deal comes with exported Chinese workforce and if u look at their investment it focuses on transportation of our natural resources.....but atleast China is tryng 2 develop africa....

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 11:42

      Is there any engineering work force in Sierra Leone, or other parts of underdeveloped Africa!

      Bobbie Booyse - 2013-07-06 11:44

      Don't let them fool you - They're developing these counties because they're planning their eventual take over.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 12:33

      Africa is confident that China will not colonise Africa because China understands the humiliation of colonisation from its own experience. China is about business not spreading communism or proselytising any form of religion or ideology. China has never been particularly interested in territorial expansion outside the mainland, although has often enough had extensive commercial links. It sees the rest of the world in roughly the same way it did for thousands of years when she was the world only superpower, both militarily and economically - outside, different, beyond, distant. China already has 1/5 of the world's population to look after, does it want more?

      Graham Radburnd - 2013-07-06 15:54

      @ Madingo Queen. As someone who has been working for the past 3 years in Sierra Leone, I have seen for myself what the Chinese are doing here. Like in any Country, there are good stories and the bad about what the Chinese are doing here. Here in SL the stories are mostly good. They are building some damn fine roads, a few stadiums and are also into Mining. I was surprised last month when I drove through Botswana, from Francistown up to Kasane, and saw the Number 7 Chinese Railway Company building a new section of road, (this same Company is building Roads in SL). It goes to show you that they are all over Africa. As democracy takes hold in many African Countries, their Governments need to uplift the lives of their citizens. If the West sits on it's hands and does nothing, naturally the Chinese see the opportunities that many African Countries offer, and step into the gap. Obama has just woken up to this fact.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 16:09

      @Graham Given the size of Chinese investment and engineering in Africa, some imperfections in their work and the conflict with natives is not avoidable, and nothing surprising. At least Chinese pay for what they get on a fair term. Thank you for injecting a note of non-smug, common sense into the proceedings.

  • Bobbie Booyse - 2013-07-06 11:37

    So the Chinese colonisation continues......

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 11:51

      How is investing money in another country "colonialism". Once again western apologist are marching on the drum beat of colonisation just to deprive China from attaining a strategic edge on commerce in the continent. The Chinese, unlike the Western colonialists are doing a lot of good to their partners (not subjects). Chinese involvement in Africa is based on agreed contracts between two countries. They are paying billions of dollars for African resources, instead of pulling out their guns and demanding that all wealth be handed to them for free. Go and wallow in your idiocy somewhere else!

      Bobbie Booyse - 2013-07-06 12:01

      You've obviously not been to Zimbabwe? (Who is also one of their biggest clients) -- China practically runs the economy, and already have huge populations settled these. I have no love for "the West" as the Boer republics were also attacked and colonised, btw. I am not saying this because I want to belittle, but because of genuine concern...we have the richest continent in the world, why do we need predator states like China and the States to make it? Why can't we develop ourselves?

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 12:25

      "why do we need predator states like China and the States to make it? Why can't we develop ourselves?" Africa needs investment and infrastructural development, and the Chinese are supplying it. Despite talk of "billions and billions" to invest, the Japanese are not here and neither are the Europeans or Americans. The Westerners are too greedy and deals done with them over the last 400 years ranged from bad to horrendous from the African viewpoint. So who is left?

  • Zola Silayi - 2013-07-06 11:40

    way to go mr xi jinping,keep investing more into our continent so that there will be no more hunger from its children anymore..

      Bobbie Booyse - 2013-07-06 11:53

      Read a bit about the 'Great Cultural Revolution' and 'the Great leap forward' --- China has starved millions of it's own people to get what it wants... What do you think they'll do to africans?

      IAnon Ym - 2013-07-06 12:25

      Breed less and you wont have starving children :)

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 13:53

      It's quite amusing when the free market fundamentalist complain because the market is moving in the opposite direction. China is reaping the benefits of the right-wing free market philosophy. As Lenin nicely put it, capitalists will sell you the rope with which you will hang them with. The Chinese are merely following the rules of Capitalism and the free market .

  • Sbonelo Bulose - 2013-07-06 12:08

    I truely blv that anyone who is really concerned about Africa development....should invest in education bcoz it is the core 4 development Chinese,and t West knw that very they won't help us improve our education system bcoz they r only interested in our natural resources..!

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 12:27

      Chinese businesses are building industry locally. Refineries, chemical plants, plastics factories, garment shops, and all the way down to higher efficiency chicken farms and other agricultural projects. There is MASSIVE technological transfer to Africans, all gratis. No claim of IP, no exorbitant royalties.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 13:56

      It is up to Africans to monitor what is happening in their own countries, to get the best deal they can for themselves and for African politicians to do the best they can for their people. Of course there are horror stories but note that the guilty parties (Chinese businessmen) have been rounded up, a special case being Zambia.

  • Grant Davis - 2013-07-06 14:26

    There goes the neighbor hood

  • Flynn Govender - 2013-07-06 17:33

    The Chinese is buying African countries at an alarming rate, yes they are investing in these countries but they want more out of Africa

  • Al Loots - 2013-07-07 14:04

    The Chinese are going to eat Africa up, crush the bones and pave their gardens.

  • Marli Hippie - 2013-07-07 14:10

    All I have to say is "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Think about it

  • Ousman S. Conteh - 2013-07-09 00:13

    We say thanks to president Koroma for securing this Contract Agreement with the Chinese who are not only bent on taking our natural resources but also providing gainful employment to our citizenry and developing our infrastructure.

  • Melvin Thompson - 2013-07-17 17:16

    In my view as a Sierra Leonean, I don't think it's necessary now to link the north with solima by train for now. My suggestion is,to mend the roads from Kenema to Jendema and solima, from kailahun to kono, from matotoka to Bo, mile 91 to magborka and moyamba junction to shenge. I think that will be more reasonable and cost effective than the proposed railway. $8bn which up to the next 10 generations will pay. Thanks Melvin.

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