"Returnees" nourish high hopes for Sierra Leone

Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:46am GMT
 

* Stability prompting thousands to return

* Poor local education means local skills lacking

By Simon Akam

FREETOWN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Dr. Eamonn Pineapple Rum Refresher is yellow in colour and six percent alcohol by volume. It also has the makings of a rare economic success story in a country still recovering eight years after its civil war.

Its creator Eamonn Hanson is one of a growing number of Sierra Leonean exiles who are returning home with an entrepreneurial drive.

"The future is commercial," said Hanson, who has a Dutch mother and left the West African country for the Netherlands as a 13-year-old.

Sierra Leone haemorrhaged population during the decade-long conflict, with the United Nations estimating that half a million Sierra Leoneans -- almost a tenth of today's population -- ended up in the United States and ex-colonial power Britain alone.

Funded by the country's lucrative diamond fields, the civil war dragged on for 11 years after an invasion by Liberian-based rebels, with over 50,000 killed and many more mutilated.   Continued...

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