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I am delighted to be here, and to participate in the "Turning of the Sod" for the construction of a factory to mark the first project investment activity in which NASSIT is involved.

This project is of great importance to our country and it could not have been undertaken at a more appropriate time. The investment of 5.4 million US dollars which this project entails represents a significant boost to the image of our country as an attractive investment destination. As a joint venture between NASSIT and Regimanuel Gray (Ghana) Ltd., the Company, Sierrablock Concrete Products Ltd. With a 60/40% shareholding capital structure, blazes a trail for major investment ventures by Sierra Leonean investors. It is significant that NASSIT has assumed such a role, involving an industry that addresses not only an economic need but also one of the most pressing social needs of our country.

The establishment of a factory that produces various types of concrete products that will be used in the construction of houses and other forms of real estate as well as roads, marks a new beginning in the real estate and construction industries in this country. The real estate and construction industries as many of you know normally serve as a pulse of the performance of the economy of a country. We therefore expect that the mass production of road construction and housing materials at affordable prices will boost the growth of these industries and propel our economy to higher rates of growth.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

By participating in this joint venture NASSIT is fulfilling a critical aspect of its mandate which is the provision of the means for the people of this country, particularly the less privileged ones, to meet their social needs. Shelter, as we all know, is one of the basic needs of life - a fundamental human right.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

From the consultations during the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), housing and employment came out clearly as the most pressing priority needs of the people of Sierra Leone. This is understandable coming from a conflict in which over 300,000 (three hundred thousand) houses and public infrastructure were destroyed. This project, therefore, addresses the twin objectives of accelerating improvements in the housing sector and providing jobs for our people, particularly inhabitants of the community where this factory is to be located.

For NASSIT, more jobs mean an increase in its membership and therefore, more resources to do more. In effect, there will not only be a break from the vicious cycle of poverty; but also, this venture will strengthen our socials security system, thereby providing financial and economic security in old age for members.

At this juncture, let me appeal to every Sierra Leonean, particularly this and other communities to lend their support to this project so that it will succeed and serve as a magnet for other industries to be located within and outside of this community.

I should emphasize that this factory belongs to all Sierra Leoneans, particularly the working men and women. Residents of this community should be particularly proud that the factory is located in their community. They have a special responsibility to protect this investment and to ensure that its objectives are achieved without hindrance.

In closing, it is my pleasure to acknowledge the invaluable role played by Mr. Eric Adjei, the first Director-General of NASSIT in the realization of this project.

I should also express my appreciation to the Ghanaian high Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Mr. Cabral Blay-Amihere, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Ghana Mr. Alie Bangura for facilitating this project which is another symbol of the excellent relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone. Messrs Emmanuel Botchwey and William Orht, both of Regimanuel Gray (Ghana) Ltd., partners in this joint venture deserve special commendation for their willingness to invest such huge amount in this country. I call on other investors to see this as a strong example to follow.

I thank you very much for your attention.