Sierra Leone News: DG of Local Content Highlights Challenges
By Stephen V. Lansana
The Director General of Sierra Leone Local Content Agency (SLLCA), Fodeba Daboh on Thursday June 20, 2019, said that under staffing and lack of compliance of some companies are key challenges hindering the agency’s monitoring and evaluation drive.
DG Daboh made this disclosure during the local content quarterly committee meeting held at the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s conference hall in Freetown. Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are represented in the committee.
Updating the committee, Director General of SLLCA, Fodeba Daboh explained that when he was appointed in December last year, he realized that the agency has not been adequately engaging the private sector. “So, we write letters to 54 companies/ operators in the sector to submit their local content plan within two weeks as stipulated in the agency Act. Among the 54 companies, 11 responded in a timely manner with their plans, 19 requested for an extension, some of them requested for technical support for filling the template of the plan, whilst 35 companies did not respond.
“This is a breach of the Local content Act. The non-compliance is a clear indication that the companies have something to hide,” DG Daboh said.
He disclosed that the construction companies and big hotels in the hospitality Industry in the country did not comply simply because they want to operate in silent. “This is a challenge to us,” he said. “Some companies are even bringing foreigners as drivers whilst we have Sierra Leonean drivers.”
He added that unskilled labour should be 100 percent Sierra Leoneans, adding that this is where effective implementation is needed.
He said that the essence of the plan is to indicate the plans of the private sector in complying with the Act. The plan will show us the recruitment and procurement plans of the companies including the plan they have in building the capacity of Sierra Leoneans.
“Many a times, the companies will tell us that Sierra Leoneans don’t have the required skill that is why they don’t hire them,” DG Daboh said. “We don’t want to hear such excuse again because the Act is clear, before the companies start operation, they must submit their local content plan. So, if Sierra Leoneans don’t have the skills, the companies should build their capacity through skills training and skill transfer.”
He said that there should be a successor plan. We are not telling the companies not to bring Expatriate but when they do, they should merge Sierra Leoneans with them.
He said that the agency works in every sector across country, but they are under staff which is hindering them in taking agency’s work beyond Freetown.
He said that there is currently a proposal which on the minister’s desk for the creation of Monitoring and Evaluation desk officers in all relevant MDAs. He said that local content is not only about employment. The service end of local content is where we need to put premium if we are to transform this country’s economy, if we are to ensure the vision of President Maada Bio succeed.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy said that coming to the committee meeting every quarter is not just to meet, but to look at what each MDA should do to ensure that the Local Content Act of 2016 is fully implemented and the intended purpose of forming the agency is actually achieved.
He said that local content sit in every domain, both in the private and public sector, that is why as a government they are trying to empower Sierra Leoneans to participate in trade, job opportunities and all other opportunities that are related to trade and investment.
He encouraged the MDAs to give first consideration to Sierra Leoneans whenever they are interfacing with investors, businesses and even the public sector, adding that MDAs are obliged to seek the interest of Sierra Leoneans workers.
“We also want to make sure that we look at the Act itself to see the areas that are not very clear so that we can amend it to address the current need of the agency. We want to make sure that local content Act is fully implemented,” Minister Sandy said.
He said that in as much as they are trying to improve the climate of doing business, they also do not want to ignore the needs of Sierra Leoneans, adding that as a government, they have been putting measures in place to protect the needs of Sierra Leoneans in terms of job opportunities, business environment and other services.
As a way forward, the committee members recommended that: the agency must develop monitory template; local content plan should be part of the criteria for the renewal of licence; the agency work with tertiary institutions to address the skills gap; the agency should come up with a database of all the available skills in the country; and strengthen stakeholders engagement, among others.