Business Opportunities in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is slowly recovering after its recent disastrous civil war. during the war many foreign investors and companies pulled out or suspended operations in the country.
Since the return to democracy after restoration of peace and successful elections, investors are once again eying the possiblities and opportunities.

The Sierra Leone economy is based on four main areas:

* Mining
* Fisheries
* Agriculture and
* Small-scale manufacturing.

Mining of dimaonds, bauxite, gold and rutile, provides the coutry´s main sources of foreign currency.
Agriculture and fishing are the main occupation of an estimated two-thirds of working population, much of this subsistence farming and artisanal fishery.
Manufacturing activities are predominatly the processing of raw materials and light manufacturing for the domestic market.
Much of the social and physical infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war, with the mining and agricultural sectors being hit the hardest. However, the economy has been recovering rapidly through strong international support and Government rehabilitation efforts.
Sierra Leone has a reich history of agriculture, fishing, textile-making, gold-working, and professional trining and practice.

Reserved Areas

A number of areas have been designated reserved for indigenous Sierra Leoneans, these include:

* Manufacture of cement blocks for sale
* Supply of granite and stone
* Transport for hire, including artisanal boats
* Bakeries
* Manufacture of mineral water, excluding soft drinks
* Operation of laudries or dry cleaning services
* Importation of used tyres for sale
* Garages - repair workshops only
* Manufacture of doors, windows and furniture for sale
* Dealing in unprocessed timber
* Importation and sale of used clothing
* Artisanal fishery and mining
* Retailing petroleum products
* Retailing of provisions and foodstuff
* Hairdressing and barbing

That said, non-indigenous Sierra Leoneans may invest in the above enterprises provided that the investment is in partnership with a Sierra Leonean sho is the majority shareholder.

Foreign Investment

There are areas that the Government is keen to develop and so is actively encouraging foreign investment, without restrictions. These include:

1. AGRICULTURE

* Rice cultivation and production
* Agro-processing of food and beverages (cassava, potato, yam); cocoa   and coffee bean processing; fruit processing and canning; commercial cotton processing; fertiliser production, palm oil and other edible oil processing.

2. INFRASTRUCTURE

* Provision of markets and common community facilities
* Rual water supply
* Construction of industrial parks
* Sewage/refuse collection and/or transportation

3. COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPORT

* Rail construction, operation and maintenance
* Marine transport (both inland and sub-regional)
* Information Communication Technology (ICT) manufacturing and assembly

4. COTTON & TEXTILES

* Clothing and apparel industry for the export market. Textile manufacture

5. EDUCATION

* Computer assembly and maintenance

6. ENERGY

* Accelerating electrification to meet the growing nationwide demand.
* Development of mini-hydro power, gas, solar photovoltaic systems and biomass.
* Promotion and development of new and renewable energy resources.

7. FISH FARMING & PROCESSING

* Production of value-added fish products for export
* Manufacture of fishing gear/equipment

8. Forestry sector

* Soft/hard wood processing with value added for export
* Promotion of eco-tourism and agroforestry

9. HEALTH SECTOR

* Establishment of special hospitals or clinics to provide HIV/AIDS health care
* Provision of private psychiatry hospitals and facilities
* Manufacturintg of drugs/medical equioment/disposables, etc.
* Cultivation and processing of herbal medicine
* Cosmetics and beauty product manufacture

10. LIVESTOCK SECTOR

* Vaccione development, resarch and production
* Dairy production/processing

11. METAL AND METAL PRODUCTS SECTOR

* Maufacture of products from ores
* Manufacture of agriculture, mining, quarrying and construction machinery
* Manufacture of electric motors, generations, compressors and transformers
* Manufacture or assembly of automobiles and spare parts

12. TOURISM SECTOR

* Development of specialised eco-tourism
* Provision of quality hotels, recreational, entertainment and restaurants facilities  that meet international standars
* Provision of travel business
* Set up of training for the Tourism Industry

INCENTIVES

As an incentive to foreign investors the following measures have been implemented:
No export license required for the export of locally produced goods except: gold, diamonds, and such.
Expatriate personnel will be allowed as follows: Up to $100,000 - 1 expatriate, and an additional expatriate for each additional $50,000 worth of investment up to a maximum of 4 expatriates.
Personal effects of the approval personnel will be exempt from customs duty.
Expatriate personnel with work permits will be permitted to make remittance abroad through their commercial banks.
Capital repatriation will be allowed suject to a 10% tax deduction.
A guarantee against expropriation.
Land will be made readily available for all industrial, agricultural and commercial use.
Any technology transfer agreements that the investor considers appropriate may be entered into.
Investor may choose any dispute settlement mechanism that is internationally acceptable in the event of a dispute between the Investor and the State.
Corporate tax for all businesses is 35%. except mining which is 30%. Enterprises investing in priority sectors will enjoy a further reduction of corporate tax to 30% in the Western Area, and 25% in the provices.
Enterprises engaged in rice cultivation will be exempt from tax for the first 10 years. For the next 5 years it will be 10%.
Tourism sector enterprises will only pay 15% corporate tax for the first 5 years of a new investment.
Import duty for raw materials, plant and machinery will be 5%. Malaria and HIV drugs are exempt. Import duty for intermediate products is 20%. Import duty for vehicles up to 4 years old is 5%, over 4 years up to 10 years is 20%, and over 10 years is 30%.
Sales tax for plant and machinery is zero-rated and others 17,5% at entry.
Further incentives will be available depending on the strategic nature of the investment.