India's JK Paper mulling plans to invest up to US$1.7B in Sierra Leone, sends experts to evaluate possibility of establishing plantations for production of pulp and paper on about 100,000 hectares of land, says government official

February 7, 2014 () – JK Paper Ltd., an India-based multi-national and multi-billion dollar company, is now finalising plans with the aim of investing up to US$1.7 billion in Sierra Leone's agriculture sector.

A team of experts from the company were in Sierra Leone from January 19th to 31st on a fact finding and feasibility study mission that focused on the country's climate, soil type, prevailing humidity and the availability of land in the quantum of one hundred thousand (100,000) hectares for plantations leading to the production of pulp and paper.

According to the pioneer, Dr. Ankur Purohit, Sierra Leone's Honorary Consul in Chicago, the United States of America, the project is in line with President Ernest Bai Koroma's 'Agenda for Prosperity' for the development of Sierra Leone.

"I met with the CEO of JK Paper Ltd. over a year ago and introduced Sierra Leone to him as one country that has the potential to expand his industry. After continued engagements with him (the CEO), he finally consented to send a team to assess the possibility of a paper and pulp plantation and the industry," Dr. Ankur explained.

He stated that when the project materializes it would provide between 8,000 to 12,000 jobs for Sierra Leoneans, majority of them being in the rural communities.

Dr. Ankur, together with his Sierra Leonean colleagues, took the team of experts to the northern and southern provinces where they received overwhelming welcome and support from the Paramount Chiefs and the local communities.

In a recent development, on arrival of the experts back to India after debriefing with their CEO, the latter has sent a message to Dr. Ankur appreciating the warm welcome given to the experts and for the provision of all relevant information pertaining to the feasibility study.

JK, founded over 150 years ago, is a prominent industrial group in India. The Group has multi-business, multi-product and multi-location attributes. The Group manufactures and markets a large range of products with leadership position in several areas including Automotive Tyres and Tubes, Paper & Pulp, Cement, Industrial V-Belts, Oil Seals, Power Transmission Systems, Hybrid Seeds, Woolen Textiles, Readymade Apparels, Sugar, Food & Dairy Products, and Cosmetics, etc. The company also is involved in medical Clinical Research and Software Development. The JK Organization is recognized as a dynamic force playing a key role in the resurgence of India.

JK Organization has different companies for different businesses. Most of these are public limited companies and are quoted on the stock exchange with a large number of public shareholders. All products of the Group are not only strong brand names, but also reputed market leaders, in their respective segments. The success of the Group is based on the use of latest technology, continuous research & development and innovation. The organization has set up highly reputed Research and Development Institutes in India.

With its operation spread in almost every state of India, the Group employs a large number of people; and, has nationwide sales and service network of over 10,000 distributors and a large number of retailers and service centers.

JK Organization has a global presence with manufacturing activities and outsourcing arrangements in different parts of the world. Its exports span over 80 countries across 6 continents.

The Group employs over 1,000 Managers, 2,000 Engineers, Chemists and Chemical Engineers, besides, a large contingent of workmen with various skills.

All plants work at high efficiency and productivity levels using latest state-of-the-art technologies and equipment procured from India and abroad. The success of the Group is based on innovative ideas and techniques, continuous research and development, as also on its wide and effective marketing network of over 10,000 distributors and retailers and over 200 stocking and service centers, operating pan India.

"Preliminarily, the company has 'green-signaled' our Sierra Leone. We are now anticipating the arrival of their second group of technocrats and legal experts for the finalisation of the detailed contracts to be drawn up between the Central Government, the various communities involved and themselves," Dr. Ankur said.

He stressed the fact that this has been a total team effort; starting with the President's Vision, Ambassador Bockarie Stevens' enthusiastic support, the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; and that from Paramount Chiefs Foday Umaru Jalloh, Foday Gulama, Alimamy Bangura, II, Alimamy Sorie, II, Sovula, Gbapie, and Madam Doris Lenga-Koroma, Kabombo; to Hon. Members of Parliament Messrs. Augustine Bockarie Torto and Aaron Koroma. Support from Directors Ms. Kate Gannette (Forestry) and Mr. Henry Kargbo (Crops, Agriculture) has been very crucial.

Dr. Ankur reminded that Sierra Leone is in severe competition with various other countries of the world for attracting such large capital investment. "Unless we act as a totally cohesive team, we will lose out to other countries," he said.

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