Sierra Leone - Country Reforms Offer Improved Possibilities for Business
The republic of Sierra Leone is a vibrant beautiful country of 71,740 square km situated on the Southwest coast of West Africa. It is bounded by Guinea in the north and north-east, Liberia in the east and by the Atlantic coast, running along the western edge.
In 1462 a Portuguese explorer, Pedro Da Cintra, who was on a voyage of discovery, named the land “Sierra Leone. This was coined from the Portuguese phrase “Serra Lyoa”, meaning “Lion Mountain”, a misinterpretation of the cracking sound of thunderstorms cascading over the beautiful green coastal mountains crouching very close to the sea.
The country is hugely blessed with a vast array of natural resources including an abundant variety of fish stock, tropical timber, quality gold, as well as other precious metals such as titanium, bauxite, and diamonds. Typified by two main seasons (the Dry and the Rainy seasons), Sierra Leone has an overflowing source of water resources, with several rivers crisscrossing the country.
A former British colony, Sierra Leone gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 27th April 1961. Its capital city, Freetown, was founded in 1787 as a home for repatriated former slaves from London and the Americas. Sitting on a wooded green coastal peninsula, the scenic city overlooks the Sierra Leone Harbour, the world’s third largest natural harbour.
The country practices a stable parliamentary democracy with the two main political parties, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) rotationally in power for most of the post-independence years. Sierra Leone is currently led by His Excellency Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio.
In a major policy shift since independence, President Bio has called on the nation to place emphasis on the growth of Human Capital Development over the extraction of raw natural resources. Although mining continues to exist as a major national sector, the country has witnessed significant push towards the development of key areas such as Healthcare, Energy, Agriculture and Education. The governments’ Free Quality Education is a major flagship program that aims to reduce the illiteracy rate in the country and to improve the standard of living amongst the populace. This program, which carries an unprecedented 21 percent of the National GDP price tag, ensures children go to school without the need to pay fees; they are also made to enjoy other facilities such as free textbooks, and free school buses. Some of the more needy students also receive help with food and uniforms from the government. As a low-income country, the government frequently seeks donor assistance in its concerted bid to ensure that some of these critical national programs run without massive interruptions.
The government continues to grapple with several challenges including illegal logging, and illegal fishing. Mudslides and water pollution are also some of the issues that are exacerbated by the global Climate Change phenomenon. Sierra Leone has been identified as one of the countries in Africa that is likely to be most affected by this evolving situation.
Despite its challenges Sierra Leone remains an excellent tourism-friendly country with warm welcoming people, exotic tropical beaches, and a very rich culture.
The current government continues to work hard to significantly improve investor confidence, It has legislated steps to enhance the ease of opening and running a business. The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has worked quite hard to intensify the fight against corruption. This has led to a significant decrease in the national corruption index which has been internationally recognised and applauded on several platforms. The liberal policies adopted by the government of President Julius Maada Bio is also helping to strengthen the country’s democratic credentials and to make it a very desirable place to do business. The scrapping of the death penalty and the expunging of the criminal libel law are additional legislative moves that are helping to enhance Sierra Leone’s growing reputation as a liberal democracy. The methodical strengthening of the judiciary is also helping to ensure that the rule of law is maintained to the letter. According to the 2022 Global Peace Index Report (GPI) Sierra Leone is the 4th most peaceful country in Africa and ranks among the first 50 in the world.
The text was originally published on the Business Association website