Change, challenge and unequal resilience in Sierra Leone

We believe that ours is an age of disruption, with a constantly shifting political, economic and social landscape; and of course it is. In this, however, our generation is not unique. Our predecessors and their predecessors also lived in times of change. Our history, as a species, is one of discovery, revolution, evolution, invention, innovation and disruption.

Like other nations, Sierra Leone experiences positive and negative change. On the plus side, we can point to peaceful elections, improved infrastructure, regulatory reform, a growing economy and significantly increased influence on the international stage. We have also had disease, natural disaster and an economic recession. In the process, we’ve learned that one of our national characteristics is resilience. As a society we spring back after adversity. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and keep going.

But admirable though all resilience is, it is nevertheless clear that some forms of resilience are more productive than others. For example, on the one hand there is passive resilience. Defined by the instinct to survive, passive resilience allows communities to absorb their setbacks, recover and rebuild, but in the process they often miss opportunities to innovate and improve.

The counterpart of passive resilience is active or dynamic resilience. In response to difficulty or disaster, actively resilient communities learn from their experiences. They adapt their processes, systems and infrastructure; they transform themselves so they are more efficient and effective than before. In addition to the survival instinct, these communities have a determination to thrive. They recognise that change, however it presents itself, comes with opportunity. As the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, famously said: “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

On November 20th, at Invest Sierra Leone 2017, over 250 such optimists from across the worlds of business, finance and politics will gather in central London to hear about the opportunities in Sierra Leone.

Invest Sierra Leone, is a collaboration between Insight Magazine and the leading international law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, and remains the only annual forum dedicated to investment in Sierra Leone. It is endorsed by the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and was launched in 2015. Its highly successful format, offers proactive panel discussions with industry leaders and a networking lunch with a cohort of influential delegates who have a proven interest in doing business in Sierra Leone.

Countries like ours need to attract and develop innovative investment models that will increase competitiveness and employment, while reducing poverty. At Invest Sierra Leone 2017, our speakers have the task of leading a frank and open discussion on the subject. They include the Attorney General – Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara; Dr Samura Kamara – the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Amara Kuyateh – the Deputy DG of NASSIT; Abu Kamara - the Director of the PPP Unit; Andrew Cavaghan – the Executive Chairman of Joule Africa; and Hugh Kweku Fraser, Team Leader, Sierra Leone Agribusiness Development Fund.

A key moment in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is when Brutus tells Cassius: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” In a nutshell, Brutus is saying - we have to seize the opportunity. Like every country, Sierra Leone is in a constant state of change. The more often we rise to our challenges; the more we are prepared to see them as opportunities to innovate and progress; and the more we encourage international investors who think along the same lines, the more likely we are to find the tide that ‘leads us on to fortune.'

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