Sierra Leone. The prospects for an economic upswing continued to look pretty bright in 2011. For the first time since the civil war broke out two decades ago, the cocoa cultivations went off with a profit, albeit insignificant, and tourism increased strongly. In the first half of the year alone, tourists pumped in almost twice as much money in the country, about US $ 19 million, as in the whole of 2010. Sierra Leone’s mile-long sandy beaches are among the finest in the world and tourism employs about 5,000 people. Visit ABBREVIATIONFINDER for the acronym of SLE that stands for the country of Sierra Leone.
According to Countryaah official site, an investigation into the country’s known oil deposits also suggested that production, once it gets underway, could yield over US $ 100 million per year.
However, Sierra Leone’s major problem is that much of the development is slowed down by the extensive corruption. The head of the Maritime Administration was prosecuted on 194 points and several other senior officials also ended up in windy weather for shady business. According to a report by the anti-corruption authority, just over 85% of the country’s traffic police are prone to take bribes, while corruption among customs officials is estimated at just over 77%, among court officials close to 73% and among employees at the tax authorities over 64%. It was not clear how these figures were obtained.
A serious consequence of the corruption was shown in a report by Amnesty International on the free care program for pregnant and lactating women and children under five, which started in 2010 with the support of UNICEF, the World Bank, the WHO and the British state. A year later, there were certainly more women who could give birth to their children in real clinics, but many were still forced to pay for the care and the poor had limited access to maternal care. Medicines and other medical equipment intended for the state-free clinics often ended up in private clinics. Port officials in Freetown were reported to refuse to pass on incoming loads of drugs unless they were paid extra.
During the preparations for the general elections in 2012, 27 parties were deregistered – all but four. They were removed from the lists because they had not presented their accounts.
Economy and energy
Sierra Leone’s economy has been hit by more than ten years of civil war and a year and a half of an epidemic caused by the Ebola virus. The relative stability of the last decade and the support of some international institutions have allowed the political leadership to pursue dynamic and large-scale reconstruction plans. Driven above all by the mining sector (in particular by iron), the GDPit went from a growth rate of 6% in 2011 to 7% in 2014, and then collapsed in 2015 to -23.9% due to the Ebola epidemic. In fact, in addition to the great human costs, the virus has fueled a context of uncertainty that blocks the economic system. Many foreign companies, fearing the spread of the contagion among workers, have closed or reduced their activities and the fear and containment measures have repressed the main economic activities: access to markets, trade and work. Despite international aid, Ebola has also had a heavy impact on the state budget, which, in the face of lower revenues, has had to strongly increase healthcare spending.
The epidemic came at a delicate moment for the African country’s economy, which has been growing rapidly in recent years. A strong rise allowed by the progress achieved in the agriculture and services sectors and accompanied, moreover, by a restrictive monetary policy that has reduced inflationary pressures. The country benefits from the help of the credit insurance agency of the World Bank group (Miga), which supports various projects in the agricultural, industrial and services (transport) sectors, and benefits from the financial support of the major Western countries, through the financing of programs aimed at improving the school sector and the health system (both very deficient) and reduce poverty levels. Sierra Leone also has access to preferential economic channels with the European Union through the EU economic partnership agreements with the so-called ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific), which allow it free access to the European market. Similarly, the Agoa trade agreement (African Growth and Opportunity Act), entered into with the United States, offers customs access to the United States market free of quotas. On a regional level, the ‘Mano River Union’ economic and institutional cooperation agreement – which since 1973 has seen Sierra Leone and Liberia cooperate, joined in 1980 by Guinea and in 2008 the Ivory Coast – in the sectors of infrastructures and for the refugee problem, and Ecowas, in the context of monetary and free trade policies. Finally, President Koroma announced reforms aimed at attracting foreign investment and has started privatizations in the energy, construction and mining sectors with this aim. In the latter sector, the presence of foreign companies, especially British such as African Minerals and London Mining, is already relevant, which hold the most important concessions for the extraction of iron, with sites in Tonkolili and Marampa. Among others, the Titanium Resources Group, controlled by the United Kingdom, and Sierra Minino, controlled by the Dutch Vimetco, operate.
A limit to the development of the country’s and the private sector’s potential is the lack of infrastructure and dependence on energy imports. Industrial development and increased demand lead to greater energy needs, which the country is unable to meet (and which will create more and more difficulties). To improve companies’ access to electricity and reduce operating costs, the government is launching the second phase of development of hydroelectric Bumbuna, project co-financed by two US companies that will increase the generation capacity of 50 M w about 250 Mw by 2017.
The presence of large natural parks and 400 kilometers of beaches offers great growth prospects for the tourism sector, now heavily damaged by the spread of the Ebola epidemic. Further obstacles to tourism development are the lack of hotel facilities and the still vivid memory of the bloody civil war. The agricultural sector is still at subsistence level, and of the 5.4 million hectares of arable land only 20% is exploited. The main agricultural products are rice, palm oil, cashews, coffee and cocoa. The mining sector, on the other hand, is driven by the extraction of diamonds, which accounts for 50% of exports. The gold, bauxite and titanium deposits are also important. Finally, the discoveries of offshore hydrocarbon fields are important , whose extraction could start in the next few years.