I look forward to you visiting our great country, to experience first‑hand, the beauty, the graciousness and the resilience of Sierra Leoneans and our remarkable investment potential.
Official Statement of President Ernest Bai Koroma
Sierra Leone has a wonderful heritage and history of achieving many firsts in Africa – from being pioneers in printing newspapers and delivering national radio to establishing Fourah Bay College, the first university in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since my election as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone in 2007, my focus has been to rekindle that pioneering spirit, to motivate and develop the private sector to drive Sierra Leone’s economic development. That is why my Government has in the last seven years prioritised improving the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and provide much-needed growth, opportunities, transfer of knowledge and resources for our country. Tangible improvements in enabling infrastructure such as the national road network and energy supply, new investments and Sierra Leone’s steady improvement in ease of doing business, as measured by the World Bank, all attest to our commitment to economic development and a thriving private sector.
Sierra Leone in recent years has attracted game-changing investments in key sectors of the economy. My government oversaw the commissioning of the 50 MW Bumbuna hydroelectric dam in 2009, which lay dormant for 12 years due to our civil war; and concluded the renewal of several large-scale mining licences between 2010 and 2012. We have attracted a range of exciting agribusiness ventures, such as the Addax Bioenergy Project which was a pioneering project for sustainable energy and ethanol production and with the recent discovery of oil and high agricultural commodity prices globally, multinational corporations are geared to tap into the country’s natural wealth.
These investments have generated thousands of jobs for Sierra Leoneans and helped drive our GDP growth to 20 per cent. in 2013. Before we were struck down by the terrible Ebola virus disease in 2014, we were one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Our ambition is to return to this trajectory of prosperity. From my first term “Agenda for Change” -which was inextricably linked to the pursuit of private sector–led growth – to the “Agenda for Prosperity”, our country’s vision to become a middle-income country, we as a nation are pursuing an inclusive economy, with reduced poverty and greater opportunities for all people. We recognise that this is only possible in partnership with the private sector. We believe that we must give space to the private sector to grow and bring their unique skills, ingenuity and resources to bear for the country.
To register our preparedness as a country ready to do business, my Government is pushing ahead with an aggressive pro-business reform agenda to reduce the time and cost of doing business and increase the efficiency, effectiveness and, ultimately, profitability of businesses in Sierra Leone. My Government has already passed a variety of reforms in recent years which are reflected in the country’s rise in global business environment ratings.
Reforms such as creating a public credit registry, computerising property registration, lands and planning databases, streamlining procedures for new electricity connections, reforming utilities and enhancing transparency have improved Sierra Leone’s global rankings in recent years. According to the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index Sustainable Economic Opportunity indicator 2011, Sierra Leone is a top reformer in Africa for providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity, ahead of its peers in the sub-region. In 2014, Sierra Leone achieved full compliance with the EITI, a substantial achievement for a country with significant extractive industries. We remain committed to consolidating our gains in democratic governance. A prime example is my Government’s policy of zero tolerance for corruption. In pursuing this goal, we have revised and launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and passed one of the toughest anti-corruption Acts in Africa.
As I write, we have almost completed our recovery drive to return the economy to its full potential as we implement robust recovery plan to restore and expand health services, return all children to school, protect those affected and orphaned by Ebola and assist the local private sector to restore their businesses.
Delivering on this vision requires strong partnerships with development partners and the private sector to provide Sierra Leoneans the opportunities they deserve to restore their lives and realise their full potential. That is what we will do and this Investor Guide is one step in that direction, providing a comprehensive, practical and fair reflection of the potential of the Republic of Sierra Leone for future investment.
I look forward to you visiting our great country, to experience first-hand the beauty, the graciousness and resilience of Sierra Leoneans and our remarkable investment potential.
A very warm welcome, and God bless Sierra Leone.
H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone
Foreword by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton MP, and UK Minister for the Middle East and Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tobias Elwood MP
Africa’s story in the twenty-first century is one of entrepreneurialism, advancing technology and rising opportunity. Sierra Leone was very much a part of this story and in 2013 was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Investments in infrastructure and energy were accelerating, efforts to strengthen government institutions and capacity were underway, and the Sierra Leone Government had committed to reforms to improve governance and private sector growth. As a result, there were a number of potential international investment opportunities in energy, including in hydropower and solar generation; infrastructure; natural resources such as bauxite, diamonds, gold, rutile, coltan, iron ore and potentially offshore oil. There were largely untapped opportunities in agriculture and fisheries, with fish stocks estimated at more than $100 million per annum.
Now, more than a year since the World Health Organisation declared all of West Africa ‘Ebola free’ Sierra Leone is nearing the end of a successful recovery programme and Sierra Leoneans are looking to the future – a future with a growing economy and increasing prosperity. A flourishing private sector, underpinned by government-led reforms, will be key to creating more and better quality jobs and driving forward sustainable economic growth that benefits all.
There remains huge potential in sectors such as energy, mining, petroleum, agriculture and infrastructure. The UK stands ready to work with the Government of Sierra Leone to diversify its economy, improve transparency, broaden its tax base, develop and improve its infrastructure or create jobs for the people of Sierra Leone. The UK also stands ready to work with the private sector because their involvement and investment will be central to unlocking this potential – by identifying and driving the business opportunities that Sierra Leoneans stand ready to grasp. We hope that this guide will support the widening and strengthening of partnerships that are so critical for our shared prosperity.
Joint Letter from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Standard Chartered Bank and Prudential plc
We are delighted to have worked together to produce this guide to investing in Sierra Leone, highlighting the opportunities the country offers, providing context for potential investors and outlining resources that potential investors can draw on.
As global businesses with a long-standing commitment to Africa in general – and Sierra Leone in particular – we are passionate about supporting Sierra Leone in its goal of reaching middle-income status by 2035. While challenges remain, the country offers a range of underlying growth and investment opportunities.
There is no doubt that the financial and professional services sector has an important role to play in supporting the building of stronger banking, insurance and legal frameworks in Sierra Leone. We are absolutely committed to working with the Government of Sierra Leone and international partners and investors to help the country reach its full potential, for the benefit of all.
We hope that this Investor Guide will serve as a useful resource for all those with an interest in helping Sierra Leone on its path towards economic growth.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Standard Chartered Bank and Prudential plc are very grateful for the assistance provided in the compilation of this Guide by the Government of Sierra Leone including Addax Bioenergy, the Africa Governance Initiative, Agiterra Group, BMT Law Chambers, Copperbelt Energy Corporation, Eversheds LLP, Francis Taylor Building, Friends Provident, Lion Mountains and Phoenix Africa Development Company, Manocap, Planting Promise and Lion Growth, the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency, Solon Capital Partners, TCQ Power, the UK Department for International Development, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network.