Sierra Leone

In August last year I received a phone call from President Koroma of Sierra Leone. His country was fast becoming the centre of the most widespread Ebola outbreak in history. He had just declared a national emergency, and he was asking for support.

My foundation, the Africa Governance Initiative, had been working in Sierra Leone since 2008. We had helped the government introduce free healthcare, push through agricultural reforms and turn on the lights in the capital Freetown. But the nation was now facing its biggest test since a brutal civil war ended a decade ago. It was clear our focus needed to change. Read more

China Kingho Energy Group, one of China’s largest privately owned energy groups, remains optimistic it can make progress on a US$6bn-10bn Sierra Leone iron ore mining project as early as next year in spite of China’s slumping appetite for the metal ore.

“The difficulties we have faced so far are the macro-economic and market conditions,” said James Chang, director of external affairs in the Kingho chairman’s office told beyondbrics. Read more

The next wave of policy makers?

From Rwanda to Liberia, a new wave of young policy makers are taking up key government posts across Africa. With youth comes a fresh perspective on Africa’s development priorities, an impatience with red tape, and a stronger commitment to economic reform. But will a lack of experience prove problematic?
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What’s the difference between Kenya and Nigeria? About two centuries, according to a new study by Stephen Broadberry and Leigh Gardner, two professors at the London School of Economics.

The pair have totted up the levels of GDP per capita of the countries of Africa, and compared them with historic rates of GDP per person in pre-industrial Europe. Citizens of Sierra Leone are about as rich as early medieval Englishmen, and modern-day Kenyans are just as rich as Elizabethans. Read more

Sierra Leone’s president Ernest Bai Koroma (left) may have avoided a run-off in this month’s presidential election, but he still a faces a dilemma – how to attract and retain investors while swelling government coffers to put citizens on the road to prosperity.

Koroma won a second term in elections held in mid-November. He received 58.7 per cent of the vote, narrowly surpassing the 55 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off with his main opponent, Julius Maada Bio, who received 37.4 per cent of votes. Read more

Sierra Leone pre elections

Photo: Tamika D. Payne

Investors typically take a wait-and-see approach to elections in Africa. And things are no different in Sierre Leone, which holds a presidential poll on Saturday, in its third election since its civil war.

There’s a lot at stake for the small West African nation looking to move beyond its bloody past – and for the energy and mining companies eyeing its natural resources. Read more

Sierra Leone made news earlier this year as officials boasted of a 32 per cent jump in GDP growth, buoyed by iron ore exports. But don’t break out the local ginger beer just yet.

IMF officials are bracing for see lower-than-expected GDP growth in 2012, as production estimates from African Minerals have been revised downward, according to the Fund’s representative Francis Kumah. 

When Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Resources Unit (PRU) named provisional winners of eight offshore oil blocks last month, it teamed various bidders together for four of the blocks, telling them to move forward as partners in negotiations. The companies had no say in the matter.

“It is like a forced marriage,” said Adekunle King, legal officer for the PRU. Read more

It’s rainy season in Sierra Leone, but officials here aren’t at all gloomy when it comes to economic forecasts.

The country’s GDP is expected to grow by a sky-high 32.5 per cent in 2012. That’s revised down a few notches from the 35.9 per cent reported by the IMF earlier this year. However, growth might be a bit more down-to-earth in 2013. Read more

West Africa’s mobile phone and data markets are often seen as bright spots in otherwise turbulent economies. But a top regulator in the region says there are still many issues to address before declaring victory in modernising the sector.

Governments, operators and investors need to move beyond the “euphoria” of high penetration rates and realise that ICT (information and communications technology) is about more than having a mobile phone, says Nnamdi Nwokike, executive secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (Watra). Read more

A random assortment of dark wood desks and chairs crowd the room. The tatty carpet is no longer glamorous but it is still just about red. A big-handled bell sits on a centre table.

Welcome to the Sierra Leone Stock Exchange. Number of stocks traded: one. Read more

Sierra Leone has come a long way since its civil war ended in 2001. The resumption of iron ore exports, more than 30 years after the industry collapsed, an increase in diamond production and a budding tourism sector are all contibuting to a new-found stability. Katrina Manson reports.