Vitafoam Nigeria Plc, a foam-products manufacturer, received a $2.8 million loan from the International Finance Corp. to help it expand in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, an official said.
The loan will go to Vitafoam Sierra Leone, a newly created subsidiary of the Lagos-based company, Mary Agboli, the World Bank unit’s representative in Sierra Leone, said in a phone interview today from Freetown, the capital.
“One of the things the loan will do to the country is that it will give other investors the right signal that Sierra Leone is ready for new investors,” Agboli said. IFC officials and the management of Vitafoam signed the loan agreement yesterday in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, she said.
Sierra Leone is rebuilding its economy nine years after the end of a civil war that destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure. The loan is the IFC’s fist investment in Sierra Leone’s manufacturing industry since the civil war ended, according to Agboli.
“The country’s manufacturing sector is small, with very little manufacturing taking place, but government has streamlined the processes to prepare the environment for investment,” she said.
There are investment opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and mining, according the IFC representative. Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries, has deposits of solid minerals including iron ore, gold and rutile, which is used in titanium dioxide, a material used in the manufacture of paints and pharmaceuticals, Agboli said.