Step into the Gap Blog#228th February 2013
Last day in Freetown before heading tour project areas.
Hi everyone, it’s Joe here doing my 1st blog of the trip. Today was our last day in Freetown and as a whole group before we split off in to our two project groups and head out to Kenema and Makeni.
We started off the day back at CAFOD HQ in Freetown and where Sam had arranged a speaker for us, Aminata who is Director of the extractives project for NMJD (National Movement for Justice and Development). She had come to talk to us about the issues with the mining and extracting of all the different minerals that can be found here in Sierra Leone. The country is incredibly rich in mineral resources such as; Diamonds, Gold and Iron ore to name just a few, she told us that 80% of the national exports were these minerals and that 60% of the total exports was made by the sale of Diamonds.
Unfortunately most Sierra Leoneans do not get to see any of the money that can be generated from these minerals due to the way the companies who extract them are able to work. Aminata explained that in some cases the companies had been paying as little as 6% corporation tax to the Government. She explained how this was actually not breaking any laws or rules because of the way the contracts these companies work with had been given out.
However she went on to tell us that part of the work she and NMJD were doing had helped to change this and that they had managed to get the companies involved to now be paying 24% but that is still below the 37.5% standard corporation tax in the country. They have also managed to get better laws and rules put in place to protect against these corporations exploiting the great resources that can be found here.
So as Aminata said they are making small slow steps but they are moving in the right direction.
We were also given some insight to the other work NMJD does in trying to help Sierra Leoneans become able to extract these minerals for themselves rather than having foreign mining companies do so.
We then got another treat at lunch where they had prepared for us a Sierra Leonean meal of Chicken and Fish in potato leaves with rice and for the really brave amongst there was pepper paste. It was a spicy affair but it was enjoyed by all.
We than had the afternoon to do a few little bits in the office such as email home and get our money changed. As we did this in good time we then had what was left of the afternoon and evening off, so we all decided that this time would be best spent together as we would be splitting up early the next morning and what better place to spend this time than at the beach!!!
So off we went to Lumley beach were we had been on our 1st day although this time we had our late arrival Naomi with us to enjoy the beauty of what was before us. We stayed at the beach until sunset and this was a great way for all of us to relax before heading off to start the work that we had all come out here to do and see.
Thank you for your time, I hope you enjoyed my 1st blog and that you will come back soon to catch up on the rest of our trip.