Sierra Leone

Republic of Sierra Leone
Population 7,075,641 (2015 Housing and Population Survey)
Independence 1961, United Kingdom
Languages English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio
Form of government Constitutional democracy
GDP (2014) $5.033 billion; per capita (2014): $2000


Sierra Leone, a West African country bordered by Atlantic ocean , Guinea and Liberia, gained independence in 1961. After a series of coups and a 13-year period as a one-party state, civil war broke out in 1991, ignited by a violent campaign led by Liberia’s Charles Taylor-backed Revolutionary United Front against Sierra Leone’s President Momoh.

Following several ceasefires and peace deals, a failed UN intervention, 50,000 deaths, and more than 2 million people displaced, war was declared over in 2002. Disarmament and rehabilitation of civil war combatants was officially completed in 2004, and the last UN peacekeeping troops left the country one year later. In 2012, Sierra Leone held its third democratic election since the end of the civil war, consolidating the reconstruction process.

A state of emergency was declared in July 2014 after the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. More than 12,000 Sierra Leoneans were diagnosed with Ebola, and more than 3,900 died. The crisis destabilized the nation’s already fragile health system, overwhelmed the social services infrastructure, and damaged economic productivity and output. The rate of new diagnoses slowed in mid-2015, and is continuing to improve.

Government Title Name
President H.E. Ernest Bai KOROMA
Vice President H.E. Victor Bockarie Foh
Minister of Finance and Economic Development H.E. Momodu Lamin KARGBO, g7+ Chair
g7+ Focal Point Ms. Abie KAMARA, Director Aid Coordination

New Deal Implementation

Sierra Leone joined the g7+ in 2010 and has endorsed the New Deal. Sierra Leone is one of seven pilot countries implementing the New Deal. It completed a Fragility Assessment in 2012 (revised in 2014), established a PSG indicator framework, and adopted a Compact/Mutual Accountability Framework in early 2014.

The head of state and head of government is the president, who is elected in five-year terms with a maximum of two terms. The cabinet is composed of the Ministers of State and members are appointed by the president with approval of parliament.

The unicameral parliament is composed of 124 members, 112 of whom are directly elected in parliamentary elections, and 12 of whom are indirectly elected as district chiefs in separate nonpartisan elections. The leading party holds 69 seats, and the main opposition party holds 43 seats. The last elections were held in 2012; the next elections are scheduled for 2017.

Government embarked upon a process of decentralization in 2004, following the end of the country’s civil war. Democratically elected local councils were restored and given authority over fiscal management and certain social services.

High unemployment and poor infrastructure are contributors to urban and rural poverty in Sierra Leone. Illiteracy is high, and food security is a challenge. Low productivity leads to low household incomes. Youth between the ages of 15 and 35 compose one-third of the population, and approximately 70% of these youth are underemployed or unemployed. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 caused schools and health centers to shut down for months, further destabilizing social systems.

Sierra Leone’s 2013-2018 Agenda for Prosperity calls for accelerating human development by focusing on (1) Improving access to and quality of education; (2) Improving access to and quality of basic health services; (3) Controlling HIV/AIDS; (4) Improving access to clean water; (5) Improving sanitation and hygiene; and (6) Reducing high fertility rates and improving population management. The plan also prioritizes social protection, economic diversification and improved employment opportunities.

Sierra Leone’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid, which accounts for roughly 50 percent of government revenue. Its chief export is iron ore, which composes about 20% of GDP, as well as diamonds and rutile, a mineral used in production of titanium metals. The agriculture sector composes roughly 40% of GDP. GDP growth slowed in 2014 as a result of the Ebola epidemic and subsequent lost output, higher fiscal deficits, rising consumer prices, depreciation of the national currency, and loss of employment and livelihoods, but growth is beginning to recover.

Lack of infrastructure and an unskilled labor force are primary constraints to economic development in Sierra Leone. The agriculture, fishing, and mining industries, however, hold significant potential for development, as well as the energy, tourism, and infrastructure sectors. The Government of Sierra Leone has prioritized improving economic diversification and international competitiveness as part of its national development strategy, with a focus on increasing agricultural productivity, expanding fisheries, promoting manufacturing, promoting local and international tourism, improving natural resource management, and strengthening energy, transportation and ICT infrastructure.