Business and Investments

Business and Investment opportunities in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located on the Atlantic Ocean Coast of Africa and on tap global travel hub. Now operating flights to Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, North America, the Caribbean and China. Our media and international team will have a variety of sectors worth investing in. The country has developed significantly since the 1990s, however, there is still room for improvement. Improvements that could benefit not just the country and its people, but also foreign and domestic investors. If you want to find out more about the areas of investment, please click the sectors that you’re interested in to read through our different categories for more information.

Agriculture

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Agriculture is the backbone of the Sierra Leonean economy, with the sector accounting for an estimated 8 per cent. of GDP and employing around two-thirds of the national labour force.

Notwithstanding this, the sector’s vast potential is still largely untapped. Sierra Leone is endowed with approximately 5.4 million hectares of arable agricultural land, of which almost 75 per cent. is available for cultivation. The country boasts fertile soils and its ample rainfall averages roughly 3,800mm per year, making it one of the most humid countries in Africa. This climate supports a broad range of crops including rice, cassava and groundnuts, as well as livestock and cash crops, such as coffee, cocoa and palm oil.

While small-scale subsistence farming currently predominates the sector, the GoSL is looking to FDI to boost productivity through mechanised commercial agricultural development and investments across the agriculture value chain.

Fisheries are one of Sierra Leone’s lesser known sources of untapped wealth, yet they have the potential to become the country’s second largest sector for exports after minerals.

Construction Materials

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Suffered damage and neglect. As a result the need for reconstruction/rehabilitation of roads, water, power, hospitals and housing is enormous.

Approximately 4,500 miles of roads need to be constructed, while more than 350,000 homes are required just to return to the level of housing that existed before the civil conflict.

This is particularly the case in rural areas from whence large numbers of the population migrated to the capital Freetown during the war years. Indeed a key component in the Sierra Leone Government´s National recovery Strategy is the rebuilding and resettlement of local communities.

The country will be relaint upon aid for the implementation of many of its reconstruction programmes. Indeed there are some 60 aid agencies present in Sierra Leone at the present time. The most important of these in terms of funding construction projects are the EU, the Word Bank, the African Development Bank and the Kuwait Fund.

Most construction material are imported and although there are no apparent shortage at present it remains to be seen what effect any significant increase in construction activity will bring. Human resources are plentiful but these are largely unskilled as many skilled workers fled the country during the war years. It is possible that employment opportunities with foreign contractors in Sierra Leone might attract such workers to return.

There is the opportunity to establish a local or regional business, possibly in joint venture with an established, local partner and pursue smaller aid funded and locally financed projects and use this business as a support platform for major projects.

Looking at smaller projects a number of opportunities are arising in the healthcare, penal, mining and housing sectors and which are funded by the aid agencies. Also the mortgage sector is undeveloped and has a great potential for investment in a real estate company.

Telecommunication

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The telecommunications sector in Sierra Leone is one of the most liberalised sectors in the economy. Previously operated as a monopoly by the state-owned Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (SIERRATEL), the sector began getting new entrants in the late 1990s, when the initial mobile licenses were issued. The country’s first mobile phone license was awarded in 1994. In mid-2002 the Government commenced issuing ‘Generalised Licenses’ for value-added telecommunications services, opening up the market to regulated competition. The mobile sector has experienced rapid growth since then; a total of 10 mobile phone licenses have been issued and there are now six (4) GSM networks that have commenced operation, with another 2 about to commence.

Roads

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The rehabilitation of road infrastructure has been central to reviving economic growth and providing the opportunity to earn livelihoods, both through increasing access to markets and directly in road construction. In 2004, the World Bank provided support to the Government in the implementation of a Transport Sector Project, which introduced a model of road construction and maintenance that incorporated private, small and medium-sized enterprises in road maintenance and enhanced institutional capacity in the management of the road sector. As a consequence of this project, the domestic road contracting industry has been strengthened. The official public road network totals about 11,000km, comprising about 8,000km classified in the National Road System and approximately 3,000km of local networks and unclassified roads and tracks.

Port and Harbour

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The port, with the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, is the country’s most important gateway for trade and commerce. It features one of the finest natural harbours on the West African Coast, with a large and well-protected anchorage on the River Rokel estuary, more than 1km of continuous berth and large amounts of fenced land allocated for operations. The port is 10metres deep at high tide and 7metres at low tide, and has an overall length of 1,067metres. It has 6 berths, 4 large warehouses and a container stacking area of over 31,000 square metres, which has been resurfaced. More than 257,000 megatons of general cargo passes through the port annually. In addition to the QEII port, there are two smaller ports at Nitti, used exclusively for the export of Rutile and bauxite mined in the Bonthe District; and the Pepel port, used for the export of Iron Ore mined in the Northern part of the country.

Airport

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Sierra Leone has one international airport, located at Lungi, across an estuary from the capital city of Freetown. The airport is a previous Royal Air Force station in the West African region. It is a fairly small airport, with one runway and a single passenger terminal. It has gone through several refurbishments over the past 10 years. There are smaller air strips in various locations around the country, many of which are in either poor or fairly usable states. These air strips were previously used for internal air transport before the civil war.

 

Oil & Gas Sector

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The three phrases of oil exploration that Sierra Leone has historically gone through first involved drilling by Mobil in 1982 and then by Amoco in 1985, to depths of approximately 3000 meters. Such exploratory wells were located close to the border with Liberia, therefore they are on the continental shelf, considerably shoreward of the deepwater basin complex. Oil shows were encountered in both exploration drillings, but these wells were plugged and abandoned until the beginning of oil and gas exploration activities started again in 2003 in Sierra Leone.

Energy

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As the demand for electricity in the capital city and other urban towns in the country is expected to increase due to an upward trajectory in urbanization trends, the Government is actively encouraging private sector participation in the generation of energy. Sierra Leone continues to open to industrial and private sector investments, therefore the government is encouraging companies (especially those in mining) to move away from vertical integration in their production processes, to make room for separate private investments in the generation and distribution sub-sectors to feed their increasing demands.

Infrastructure

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The ‘catch-all’ sector when discussing investment in Sierra Leone is infrastructure. It is no secret that the government wants to boost rail construction, telecommunication and marine transport industry, as well as other sectors that are critical to the country’s day-to-day functioning. Relatively lower urbanisation, high fuel prices and decrepit transport all tend to hinder the progress of business especially in the mining sector. Whilst progress is being made with the healthcare infrastructure in Sierra Leone, especially with the government announcing the Free Healthcare Initiative for pregnant women in 2010, there is still more to be done. The initiative meant the abolition of fees for medical attention, therefore free treatment and prescriptions were available in every public health facility in the country.

Marine Fisheries

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Sierra Leone is the perfect country to invest in fishing export. The natural resources and its productive coastal waters make them invaluable sources of food which is great for the employment of those living in the country. It was revealed in a 2015 publication of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project of the Ministry of Fisheries that the fisheries sector directly provides employment to an estimated 100,000 persons, while indirectly providing to about 500,000 people.

Mineral Resources

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Investing in the mineral sources of Sierra Leone is a great move because even today, Sierra Leone has the largest deposit of alluvial gold, which, as we have established, has been ongoing throughout human history. Sierra Leone Investment and Export Agency (SLIEPA) contributes to the growth of the Sierra Leone economy by providing “effective, efficient, reliable and timely” investment & export promotion services both to domestic and international investors. The two specific mandates set out by the government for SLIEPA are: conduct the business of investments promotion in Sierra Leone and develop and diversify the exports of traditional and non-traditional produce.

 

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Business and Investments