Sierra Leone – The Lion Mountains

 

Characterised by British Colonial Heritage which came to an end on the 27th of April in 1961, Sierra Leone is an English-Speaking country in West Africa bordered by Guinea in the Northeast, Liberia in Southeast and The Atlantic Ocean in the Southwest.

Named the “Lion Mountains” by the Portuguese Explores, Sierra Leone has an estimated population of 7.6 Million and an estimated GDP of 4 Billion (World Bank 2018). The largest and Economic Hub of the country is its Capital city Freetown. The country has gone through several coups and has had its fair share of unrest, civil wars, and Ebola outbreaks but it remains as one of the most religiously tolerant countries with the 77% Muslim majority coexisting with the 23 % Christian minority with close to nonreligious driven conflict.

Sierra Leone like many of its African compatriots is richly blessed with many natural resources like Diamond, Iron, and Gold. In 1972 On February 14, the country made headlines when the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond- called the “Star of Sierra Leone”- was discovered in Koidu. Historically the diamonds became the source of unrest as the rebel groups had control of the major diamond deposits and they became known as Blood Diamonds as they fuelled procurement of arms and gave rise to the uprising in the country for more than 4 decades. Today the country remains one of the top 10 largest producers of Diamonds in the world and artisanal mining is still the second-largest employer from agriculture in the country.

Sierra Leone remains dependent on agriculture which can be seen by the 60% contribution to the GDP of the agriculture sector in 2017 with major cash crops like Coffee, rice and cocoa production. The stagnation of the economy in 2018 could be explained the reduction in mining sector output as they were a major disruption in productivity on the Tonkolili and Marampa mines which are major Iron-ore mines. This could persist to 2019 as the government has cancelled major Mining Licenses including Tonkolili and Marampa. Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, since his election last year, has been reviewing mining contracts and considering changes to the law that would ensure the West African nation benefits from its natural resources.

Electricity supply is still a major constraint in the country and the lack of infrastructure, and an unfavourable business environment will also continue to harm growth. Tourism prospects were also particularly affected by this situation, and China cancelling funding $400m (£304m) for a new airport near the capital in 2018. The IMF has advised the country to avoid huge capital projects which could put the country in a debt trap as the level of public debt (62.99 % of GDP in 2018) is too high.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke in Sierra Leone is 11407.50 SLL (R17.14) and the price of a liter of petrol is 8,500 SLL (R12.77). The average Inflation rate is 15.2%.

Sierra Leone remains a great country with so much potential of transforming the prospects of its people. The new Government through President Julius Maada Bio has put in place new measures to fight against corruption, improve the quality of life of the population by channelling revenue generated from its natural resources to the development of the country. The estimated $250 Million foreign currency generated from diamond exports could do so much good for the people of Sierra Leone and the government has been trying to improve governance of strategic resources to ensure the beneficiation of the people.

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