Economic Overview

Sierra Leone is emerging from a protracted civil war and is showing signs of a successful transition. Investor and consumer confidence continue to rise, adding impetus to the country’s economic recovery. In addition to this there is greater freedom of movement and the successful rehabilitation and resettlement of residential areas. In 2001 Sierra Leone attracted US$4 million in foreign direct investment. The country has also enjoyed an improvement in the terms of trade as a result of the lower of international petroleum prices.
The country’s main economic sectors include mining, agriculture and fisheries. The mining of diamonds, bauxite and rutile provides the major source of hard currency. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the country’s 5.2 million strong population with most involved in subsistence agriculture. The sector accounted for 51% of the country’s GDP. Sierra Leone’s manufacturing sector continues to develop and consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. In 2002 the country’s GDP was US$789.4 million.
Despite its successes and development, the Sierra Leone economy still faces some significant challenges. There is a high rate of unemployment particularly among the youth and ex-combatants. Authorities have been slow to implement reforms in the civil service and the pace of the privatisation programme is also slacking and donors have urged its advancement.