On Monday 15th November 2022, during a ceremony held at the Bintumani Conference Centre at Aberdeen, His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, whilst officially opening the Employee and Entrepreneur Fair, said that the Fair is an initiative designed to bring job seeking youths across the country in contact with business entities and enhance their skills, knowledge and possible employment by these businesses. The fair was graced by various businesses from all spheres of life, including players in the private sector like, Banks, Engineering organisations, Mining companies, Military, Police, Correctional Services,
Agriculture, Telecommunication companies etc.
His Excellency commended Vice President Juldeh Jalloh and team for organizing the fair, adding that over 500 promising young Sierra Leoneans, aged between 18-35 years, from across the country were selected to participate in the country’s first ever National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair (NYEEF). He also welcomed a distinguished guest from Rwanda, Minister of Youth and Culture and representatives from YouthConnekt Africa.
His Excellency said that the initiative was born out of the government’s desire to enhance its Human Capital Development plan, as the fair will connect young entrepreneurs with professionals from different fields, provide opportunities for learning for job seeking youths across the country. He hoped that youths will take full advantage of the opportunity provided them to interact with employers and share knowledge and skills on the various careers available.
President Bio urged the over 500 youths present to make good use of skills training they would be benefiting from in the next three days of the fair, stressing that his government will continue to support the development of Human Capital.
In his contribution on behalf of the telecom sector, Shadi Gerjawi, CEO of Africell disclosed that Orange-SL, QCell Africell and others have done their own bit in empowering the youths, furthering that the telecom operators are the largest employers of youths across the country, both direct and indirectly. They also are operating across the country and providing services to residents across the country. He furthered that telecom operators have, in respect of their Corporate Social Responsibility, given support to youths in entertainment, sports, education etc. They have contributed greatly to the construction of schools and distribution of learning materials to schools. He promised that all the mobile companies will continue to support the development trajectory of the government. He further mentioned that despite the global challenge that has adversely affected their work in terms of the economic impact, they will continue to provide service to the country, and thanked the government for creating the enabling environment for their businesses to grow.
Speaking on behalf of the manufacturing, food production and distribution sector in the country, Chief Executive Officer and Proprietor of Pee Cee and Sons, Mahesh Nandwani, one of the organizers of the fair, thanked President Bio and his Government for the opportunity to be part of such an important event, as it offers them the opportunity to interact with young graduates and job seekers and be able to update them on the different skills needed in the food production and manufacturing sector. He informed the audience that the food production sector has been making gains, and has been exporting oil and palm oil to several African countries and contributing greatly to the economic development of the country. He re-echoed the claims of the Trade Minister, Edward Hinga Sandy that the country is now producing most of the vegetable oil and palm oil that is being consumed in the country. He stressed that the manufacturing and food production as well as distribution sector is part of the largest job creation entity in the country. He commended the government’s action in the provision of energy, which is pivotal in the operations of manufacturers, as it reduces their overhead running cost.
Nandwani made mention of the progress made by his company, Jolaks, which has an oil refinery, a soap noodle plant that is producing cooking oil for both national and international consumption, with some five regional countries getting their products.
It must be noted that the NYEEF is part of the broader vision of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio’s Human Capital Development agenda, designed to invest in the young people of Sierra Leone and unleash their potential.
Several statements were made by various personnels, including the Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, Ministers of Youth, Tertiary and Higher Education, Trade and Industry and the visiting Minister of Youth from Rwanda.
Several booths operated by various groups, companies and institutions were in attendance, ready to make known their expertise to the participants.
The ceremony was climaxed by an inspection of the various booths by His Excellency President Bio, which included DSTI’s Technology and Innovation Lab, Orange Sierra Leone’s Creative Corner, Elba’s ‘Ask me Anything’ for (aspiring) Entrepreneurs, YouthConnekt Africa, Africell, UBA, SLCB, Rokel Commercial Bank, etc.