Local Content Agency Engages Suppliers & Supermarket Owners

By Stephen V. Lansana

The Sierra Leone Local Content Agency has on Wednesday October 30, 2019, engaged the local suppliers and proprietors of supermarket at its office in Freetown.

The purpose of the engagement is to proffer recommendations on the challenges faced by both the suppliers and proprietors of supermarkets whilst striving to promote the ‘Made in Sierra Leone’ products.

Some of the challenges highlighted by the supermarket owners include: shortage of products; poor packaging; suppliers do not receive feedback on their products; suppliers demanding for cash payment instead collecting their money after sales; some goods are expensive; and difficulty to exchange expired products, among others.

Some of the challenges highlighted by the suppliers include: refusal of some supermarket owners to pay for the supplies; some supermarket owners are now producing their own product; delay in payment; difficulty to access some supermarkets, and rejection of some products, among others. Some suppliers also said that Choithram Supermarket usually refuse their products, while others said Delicious Supermarket sold their products but refused to pay them. They said that they have flat rates for their products but the supermarkets usually double the prices, making the products very expensive for customers.

The Director General of Sierra Leone Local Content Agency (SLLCA), Mr. Fodeba Daboh said “Made in Sierra Leone” is a policy proclamation made by the then Minister of Trade and Industry, Peter B. Content, and that there should be a special shelf of made in Sierra Leone product in every supermarket.

He said that when he was appointed as a director general of the Agency, he discovered that one of the policies to drive on is the made in Sierra Leone policy. He said that they are doing regular monitoring on the implementation of the policy.

Daboh said that the Agency has decided to bring all the players together to address the challenges.

He said that both the suppliers and the supermarket owners will definitely give a thought on the challenges highlighted to promote the “Made in Sierra Leone” products. “Local content is not going anyway. It is here to stay. This government has put premium on it. So, it is better we accept it now,” he said. “Therefore, whatever we are doing, we are representing the government through our parent ministry which is the Ministry of Trade and Industry.”

Daboh emphasized, “You can agree with me that the New Direction government is actually in the right direction. As you know, this engagement is the first in the history of local content. We are not here to attack each other but to proffer solutions on the challenges that each player is facing in ensuring compliance.”

He disclosed that the government will start the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which was signed last year by President Bio. “This agreement will allow other businessmen in Africa to trade freely in the continent. For instance, you will not have right to stop someone from other part of Africa to trade in your country,” he said. He urged the suppliers to position themselves to ensure quality standards to match up with products at global levels. “If you succeed, then we have succeeded as an Agency and by extension the country as a whole.” He called on the suppliers to improve on their packaging to make the country proud.

He urged Delicious Supermarket and Goodies Supermarket to accept the local products, assuring that the Agency will make follow up with the Delicious Supermarket on the issues raised on them. He admonished the suppliers to embark on constant communication with the supermarkets so that they will be notified if they need more products. He urged Choithram Supermarket to accept every product from the suppliers and allow the products to compete with the others.

A Supplier, doubling as the Managing Partner/CEO of Lion Food Snacks & Beverage (SL) Ltd in Waterloo, Victor Chukuma Johnson Jr recommended that the Agency should have a database of verified Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) including those that produce quality products. He encouraged suppliers to focus on packaging and quality goods so that they will be able to compete globally. “The Agency should make sure that each supplier is registered and has a business space,” he said. “The Agency has greatly assisted us the local manufactural because it has created a special package with Sierra Leone Standard Bureau to give us discount on every test they do on our food product. So, the testing process is going on.”