Sierra Leone’s economy has been developing rapidly in recent years. The World Bank expects continued expansion for the foreseeable future, forecasting GDP growth above 5% per annum for the next three years. Since the Ebola crisis in 2014, economic growth has resumed and remains upward, supported by new investments in mining, agriculture, and fisheries. Growth, according to International Monetary Fund projections, is expected to remain sustainable over the medium term.
Sierra Leone is estimated to have a total forest cover of approximately 2.75 million hectares (c.38% of the land area) and a historical deforestation rate in excess of 3% per annum. Until 2002, Sierra Leone lacked a forest management system due to civil war, however on paper there are now 55 protected areas covering approximately 4.5% of Sierra Leone.
The country has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species. While the country’s political will to protect and conserve its remaining forest is strong, the government has very scarce resources with which to do so. Financial investment into the private plantation forestry sector is vital for the future supply of sustainable timber.
- Sierra Leone is one of few countries in Africa with a fully-functioning multiparty democracy. Since 2002, free elections have been held every 5 years; in 2007, the governing party lost and handed over power peacefully to the current administration under President Ernest Bai Koroma. Both leading parties are fully committed to democracy and a probusiness environment. Sierra Leone has been ranked as the most improved country in Africa in both the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index and the World Bank’s global Governance Indicators
- The World Bank ranks Sierra Leone #2 in Africa and #29 worldwide for Investor Protection
- Sierra Leone is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) providing access to markets in the 15 member countries with a combined population of 220 million people
- Significant fiscal incentives to investors in plantation forestry
- Sierra Leone is free of any major ethnic, religious, ideological or other disputes. Crime rates are extremely low; Freetown is one of the safest capital city in Africa, and the police force is one of few that does not carry guns
- Strong economic performance with continued GDP growth, steadily declining inflation, and relatively stable exchange rates
- As a former businessman, President Koroma is focused on encouraging investment and private enterprise and continued streamlining of the “costs of doing business”. Over the last 3 years, Sierra Leone has climbed 20 places in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. The country ranks top in West Africa for ease of starting a new business, and anti-corruption laws and institutions are among the toughest in Africa.
Sierra Leone in brief
|Total Area||71,740 sq km|
|Forestry Area||27,540 sq km|
|GDP Growth 2017 (forecast):||5.6|
|GDP Growth 2016:||3.9|
|GDP Growth 2015:||4.8|
|GDP per capita (2016, PPP):||US$1,320|
|GDP composition by sector (2016)|