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Cablegate: American Company Exploring Potential for It

VZCZCXRO6935
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0747 3541828
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201828Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1599
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000747

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD PREL SL
SUBJECT: AMERICAN COMPANY EXPLORING POTENTIAL FOR IT
OUTSOURCING IN SIERRA LEONE

1. SUMMARY: Poloff met a four-person team visiting Sierra
Leone to explore the possibility of software development
outsourcing to Sierra Leone on November 30. The team,
representing an envisioned start-up business named "Blue
Ocean IT," was headed by AmCit James Kane, Managing Director
of US firm Devon International Group. Topics of discussion
included the current and anticipated business climate,
expected challenges to the business concept, and the
Embassy's role in promoting US business investment in Sierra
Leone.

2. BLUE OCEAN IT: Blue Ocean IT is a proposed joint
initiative from Devon International and IBM. The concept
involves investing in local information technology education,
possibly through Fourah Bay College's Department of
Electrical Engineering or Institute of Public Administration
and Management (IPAM). Although IPAM has impressive
facilities and organizational capacity, the Minister of
Education (who was said to be interested in the project)
recommended the Department of Engineering. Once core
personnel are trained, the next phase would be to establish a
local software development business for outsourcing, likely
with client references from IBM. It is important to note
that while Devon International has a strong business
relationship with IBM as well as a strong personal
relationship between Devon International's CEO and a Vice
President at IBM, IBM has made no commitments to this
initiative as of yet.

3. TOPICS OF INTEREST TO INVESTORS: The visiting team had
questions regarding expected pros and cons of investing in
such a concept in Sierra Leone. Poloff discussed that one
could be cautiously optimistic that the business climate
would improve somewhat due to the new administration's
priorities, but that it was too soon to tell. Two of the top
points of discussion were energy and corruption. Poloff
explained that energy was scarce, and that even though
temporary generators might come online before the end of the
year, and the Bumbuna power plant might come online in 2009,
any business should expect to devote substantial resources to
generators and fuel. Regarding corruption, poloff stated
that while the new commissioner of the Anti-Corruption
Commission had a good reputation and that the upper echelons
of the administration seemed committed to fight corruption,
it was too soon to tell if this would would significantly
recude corruption. Continuing on the same theme of cautious
optimism, poloff said that given President Koroma's business
background, the new administration was expected to work hard
on improving the business climate in Sierra Leone.
PERRY

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