The Footprint to Africa team, led by Managing Director, Barrister Osita Oparaugo recently visited resource-rich Sierra Leone with a mission to report, firsthand, the abundant investment opportunities the country has to offer and the country’s plans to get back to growth following the outbreak of Ebola.
During their visit, Footprint to Africa engaged a cache of individuals including several government officials, chamber of commerce members and entrepreneurs. Peter Kapr Bangura, the 30 year old Director of Mines at the National Minerals Agency was one of the distinguished individuals engaged by the Footprint to Africa team. In an exclusive interview, the youngest Director of Mines in Africa showed an excellent understanding of the terrain that reportedly has significant deposits of iron ore, diamonds, bauxite, rutile and gold.
He was quick to point out that the mining sector in Sierra Leone offers an excellent opportunity for any investor looking into Africa. He said, “Rich deposits of a variety of important minerals lie beneath the good ground, including iron ore (Sierra Leone is home to one of the world’s largest deposits containing an estimated 12.8 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves), bauxite (Sierra Leone has significant reserves, including a reserve at Port Loko of around 100 million tonnes) and rutile (Sierra Leone produced an estimated 120,000 tonnes of contained titanium dioxide in 2014, which accounted for roughly 14 per cent of total world production). Between 2009 and 2012 the value of Sierra Leone’s natural resource exports exceeded US$1.2 billion”.
He further said, “In 2013, before the drop in commodity prices and the outbreak of Ebola, mining revenues, including licensing fees, signature bonuses, royalties, income tax, customs duties and other non-tax mining revenues, accounted for approximately US$ 110 million or 21.2 per cent, of Sierra Leone’s NRA’s revenues”
Bangura excelled above his peers in school while obtaining his first degree in civil engineering from Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and eventually going on to work with Sierra Leone’s road sector.
He was fortunate to be selected as the recipient of a Master’s degree scholarship to the world renowned Camborne School of Mines in the United Kingdom, one of the few elite mining colleges specifically dedicated to mining in the world.
“I took my newly acquired Master’s degree and returned to Sierra Leone and secured a job with the largest mining outfit in the country, Tonkolili Iron Ore, working side by side with leaders in engineering from all over the world. It was in this position I realized that my true mission in life goes beyond the scope of mining,” he enthused.
Reflecting on the path that brought him to his current position, Bangura said, “I realized during this time that my passion went beyond mining. When you work in a mine site 6am to 6pm every day, what you focus on is just production. I became more interested in supporting government, working together with the young people of this country to see how we can change the lives of our people.
“I left my lucrative position as a lead short term planning engineer in the Tonkolili mines and embarked on a journey to leave a legacy not only for myself and posterity, but for the people of Sierra Leone.”
Commenting on the aftermath of the outbreak of Ebola, the Director said that the people of Sierra Leone held fast to the assurance that they can survive anything and today, the tides have turned and the country is quickly on the road to reclaiming their title as Africa’s fastest growing economy.
Mr. Bangura spoke highly of H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone who, he said, has a clear roadmap of the country’s economic growth.
“Look around Africa today and tell me where you can find anyone my age heading an agency like The National Minerals Agency…the President understands clearly that the future belongs to the youth and has embarked on an all inclusive economic reforms.
“Look at the kind of individuals that are ministers in this country, you will find men of proven and outstanding integrity”
He said working under the present Minister of Mines, Hon. Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, is an experience he will forever cherish because the Minister has brought ideas and innovations within the sector that are laudable and geared towards improving the way business is done in the mining sector.
Director Bangura said that he has taken his position seriously, adding confidently: “I urge all investors, businesses and entrepreneurs to come to Sierra Leone. The country is ripe and the opportunities abound.”