By Lansana Fofanah.
The Sierra Leone Brewery Limited has been commended by the government of Sierra Leone for being the first company in the country to introduce its product in cans, thereby competing with international companies.
During the recent launching of the first products- Mutzig and Star Beer in cans, the Chief Minister, Professor David J. Francis commended the company for upholding the Local Content Policy and promoting ‘Made in Sierra Leone’ campaign. He described the huge financial investment of Brewery as a direct foreign investment in the country which has led the company to expand its innovations and create more jobs for workers.
Professor Francis said that since Brewery started operating some fifty years ago, the company has been growing from strength to strength because of its resilience to stay in the country despite the outbreak of the eleven years rebel war and the Ebola Virus.
Giving the commitment of government towards Local Content Policy, the Chief Minister said that the New Direction Government headed by President Julius Maada Bio is a business friendly one with the aim of encouraging investors as that will bring more jobs and raise domestic revenue for the country. He emphasized on the need for the revamping of the manufacturing sector and urged every member of the government to support that drive. He said that the existence of Brewery is a manifestation of the growth of private sector investment and that he was happy to learn that Brewery’s employees are over 90% Sierra Leoneans and the company has been living up to its corporate social responsibilities
While touring the facility, Professor Francis said that the multipurpose caning is in line with international best practice, adding that the technology adds more values to local products.
The President of the Sierra Leone Labor Congress, Mr. J. A. B. Wright said that fifty years ago when Brewery started, they never expected it to move in line with time and technology, noting that the introduction of caning line is meant to change the face of industries in Sierra Leone. He said that with the new plants installed by the company, there is the tendency to create jobs and training for workers. He asked the government to create water facilities in industrial areas as many of them cannot operate without adequate water. He also expressed concerns over the rate paid on local goods which needs adjustment to enable Brewery and other companies to employ more workers. He admonished workers to take their responsibilities seriously in order to create confidence between them and their employees.
The Director of Local Content at the Minister of Trade and Industry, Emmanuel Konjoh said that Brewery’s innovation drive will keep the company growing beyond human imagination. He said that Brewery has been able to feed over ten thousand families of sorghum farmers, ninety percent of employees are Sierra Leoneans and the company has been able to add immense contribution to local content policy.
Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Industry, Joseph Ndanema said that Brewery has given much support to sorghum farmers which have made people to develop interest in sorghum farming. He called on other industries to follow the footsteps of Brewery to invest in agriculture for their products, while at the same time calling on Brewery to also invest in the massive rice cultivation campaign under the New Direction.
Director of Tax Policy of the Ministry of Finance, Idrissa Kanu said that Brewery canning line started as a rumor, but now it has demonstrated that everything is possible. He said that Wellington was known as industrial estate, but now, only few industries including Brewery operate fully. He assured the commitment of the government towards creating a business friendly atmosphere as the country currently imposes five percent on local tax as opposed to ten percent which was recommended by the ECOWAS. He said that the following week, the Finance Act for 2018 will be discussed and whatever is sealed in that Act, will have a great impact on the economy of the country.
The Supply Chain Manager, Mr. Samuel Murumu said that the caning line technology is the first of its kind that aims at meeting international safety health standard. He said that the caning line is a versatile line that produces alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and young Sierra Leoneans were sent to Nigeria where they were trained to operate the systems.
The Trade Marketing Manager, Mrs. Theresa Musa said that bottles still remains the main form of packaging for the company, but the introduction of canning line is to satisfy the urge of their customers with affordable price.
Managing Director of SLBL, Mr. Daaf Tilburg said that their latest innovation is an investment plan to invest over two hundred billion Leones in Sierra Leone.
He said that they don’t believe in leaving the country at a time of crisis, but to partner with government for solutions. He said that Brewery remains committed to its corporate social responsibilities in providing basic necessities and support in different sector in the country. He said that over twenty five thousand farmers are now gainfully employed by the company through support. “The success of a canning line is a success for Sierra Leone,” he said. He called on government to give credence to local content policy which has motivated them to invest more in the country.