Sierra Leone - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities
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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 tourism prospects, and vast mineral resources. The economy has potential in five main areas: agriculture, fisheries, mining, tourism, and public infrastructure. 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 primary sources of foreign exchange, though these are vulnerable to external shocks.  There are also several opportunities for investment in physical and digital public infrastructure. 

In recent years, the Government of Sierra Leone has instituted reforms aimed to ameliorate the business and investment climate. The government established the National Investment Board (NIB) in 2022 to coordinate, facilitate, and promote business investment in Sierra Leone. The Board aims to simplify the bureaucratic processes and regulations for businesses, build trust and credibility in the registration process, and enhance a predictable and transparent investment climate that drives responsible investment. The government, with the support of development partners, provided for increased spending in critical public infrastructure in its budget for 2023 in areas such as energy, transport, and information and communications technology, which are essential to business facilitation and physical and digital connectivity. 

The government’s diversification initiative is primarily directed toward agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and infrastructure and attracts investors to these sectors. The government promotes sustainable investment in mechanized commercial agriculture, value addition, and agricultural research. The fishery sector is pushing for investment in lawful cultivation, commercial farming, and preservation of fish products. In the tourism sector, priority areas are investment in the hospitality industry, rehabilitation of historical and cultural sites, and promotion of tourism-based activities that link with the rural economy.

The government focuses on public-private partnerships for significant infrastructure development projects in energy, water, roads, ports, and the telecommunications sector. It also encourages investments in local industries like agro-processing, other value-addition industries, and small enterprise development. The government seeks investment in all these sectors to ignite economic growth and development in the country and wants economic growth and development to be led by the private sector.

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 54 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 through the European Union’s Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative and the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).