Sierra Leone offers opportunities for investment. The country is gifted with a favorable tropical climate with fertile soil advantageous for agriculture, an extensive continental shelf with numerous varieties of fishery resources, a natural environment offering touristic prospects, and vast mineral resources. The economy has potential in five main areas: agriculture, fisheries, mining, tourism, and small-scale manufacturing. Agriculture and fishing are the mainstay of most of the population, though much of this is subsistence farming and artisanal fishing. Mining of minerals, especially iron ore, diamonds, gold, rutile, ilmenite, and bauxite are the main sources of foreign currency, though these are exposed to external shocks. Manufacturing activities are primarily limited to the processing of raw materials and light industries for the domestic market.
Over the years, Sierra Leone has made significant reforms in easing the process of setting up a business, including establishing a one-stop shop for company registration. In 2020, the World Bank ranked the country 58 out of 190 countries with a 91 percent score for easing the process of starting a business, one of ten indicators used in evaluating the business climate. The government also implemented the UNCTAD ASYCUDA World System, an online system that enhances trading across borders.
Sierra Leone provides access to a market of more than 50 million people via its membership in the Mano River Union with Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia, and a market of over 400 million people through its membership to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In 2018, Sierra Leone also joined the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which brings together fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion in a single continental market for goods and services. Sierra Leone is also accorded duty-free access to large markets like the European Union’s Everything But Arms initiative and the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Foreign investors can engage in agriculture, agribusiness, fisheries, and tourism, and can undertake ventures in infrastructure like in energy (including renewables), manufacturing, construction, communication, and transportation, and in other sectors like education, finance, health and natural resources. The government seeks investment in all these sectors and engagement will potentially ignite economic growth and development. The GoSL wants economic growth and development to be led by the private sector.