Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio on Tuesday called on stakeholders in the entertainment industry to unite if they are to develop the sector.
Bio who was speaking at a meeting with representatives of the industry said entertainers have a major role to sell the country which can boost its tourism potential.
He added that for the government to support the players, they will need to unite.
“There is so much in this country. We have the sites, culture and things to show and if we are to succeed as a destination from tourism, we should also combine that with entertainment. People will want to come here to be joyful and be entertained, which is the memory they will take back and that is how we will get the industry going,” he said.
“There should be unity among the entertainers and we will continue to create the environment for everyone to succeed,” he added.
The meeting was the first between the new president and the increasingly influential entertainment stakeholder.
It is part of efforts by the new administration to rejuvenate the sector which is largely believed to have been neglected in the last decade.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr Memunatu Pratt, is spearheading this effort.
She said at the State House meeting that the neglect of the entertainment sector in Sierra Leone had been tied to the neglect of the ministry itself, which is responsible for entertainment.
“During this administration, the ministry’s resource allocation to do programmes has increased and we have had quite a number of goodwill from partners because the sector is now seen as a flagship programme,” she said.
The Sierra Leone entertainment sector is dominated by musicians, but there is also the struggling film industry.
Among other things, the stakeholders want the institution of government policies serving as guidance to their activities, in addition to much needed funding towards provision of relevant infrastructures.
Part of the delegation that met President Bio was popular Sierra Leonean music icon, Jimmy Bangura, better known as Jimmy B.
He spoke about the potential for job creation if the entertainment sector receives the attention it deserves, which he said is only possible with political will.
“I believe the entertainment industry is in a better position to grow, create jobs, promote cultural and heritage awareness and expand the creative industries,” he stated.
Bio said he was happy to have met with members of the entertainment industry to start off discussions on the way forward, noting that his administration was aware of the need to support the industry. The president stressed that he was committed to doing it because entertainers were a part of the society who play an instrumental role in keeping Sierra Leone healthy.