Sierra Leone - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techiques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2021-09-14

Sierra Leonean consumers react positively to American products. All sales materials should be in English and the name and address of the manufacturer, the country of origin, and the product expiration date should be indicated clearly on the product/packaging. Local distributors of imported products look for suppliers for advertisement and promotional support, particularly when introducing a new product or brand name.

Trade Promotion and Advertising

Trade promotion programs are done in English through advertisements in the media with newspapers, radios, and television being the primary channels. With the country’s adult literacy rate being 43.2 percent (2018), advertisement and other promotional events through the radio could be the preferred method as they are increasingly becoming popular and effective for wider coverage. Newspapers are largely concentrated in metropolitan areas while televisions and the internet are gradually becoming prevalent. Other methods of advertisement could include billboards, stickers, brochures, printing on t-shirts, caps, etc., fliers, banners, outdoor events, and participation in local trade fairs, among others.

Pricing

Sierra Leone is a free market economy with prices determined by market forces. However, the Ministry of Trade and Industry does monitor prices and the Petroleum Regulatory Agency of government sets the price of petroleum products, mainly petrol, diesel, kerosene, and heavy fuel oil. Consumers have a strong preference for U.S. goods but are price sensitive.

Sales Service/Customer Support

After-sale services and customer support are very much required for high-tech modern and complicated products like industrial machinery, telecommunication equipment, computer hardware, etc. Support to local partners could enhance after-sales and customer support. Asian investors, including the Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs, have increased their presence, and established local partnerships across the country.

Local Professional Services

The Embassy can assist with identifying competent local professional services. It provides the list of local attorneys on the Embassy’s website(https://sl.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/).

  • There are business associations, but no concise database of these associations. Below are names and contacts for some local business associations:
  • Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers
  • Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers and Development Permits:  http://legroupsl.net/id77.html
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants, Sierra Leone
  • Sierra Leone Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians:

Protecting Intellectual Property

Sierra Leone is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO). Sierra Leone is a member of the WTO and is therefore bound by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Sierra Leone has not ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Rights. Despite its recognition of international standards, Sierra Leone’s protection of intellectual property is limited. Laws dating back to the colonial era mean that patents and trademarks registered in the United Kingdom can be extended to Sierra Leone. Efforts to update the country’s legal framework have thus far included the Copyright Act 2011, the Patents and Industrial Design Act 2012, and the Trademark Act 2014. Nonetheless, legal protections remain outdated and incomplete, and government enforcement is minimal due to resource and capacity limitations. Customs screening for counterfeit goods is weak, and the government does not publish statistics about seizures of counterfeit goods.