Overview

Macroeconomic Context

Sierra Leone’s economy proved resilient in the face of two major shocks in 2014/15: the Ebola epidemic and collapse of iron ore prices. Economic growth has resumed, however, and remains upward, supported by new investments in mining, agriculture, and fisheries. The recovery underway, according to International Monetary Fund projections, is expected to remain sustainable over the medium term.

Real Gross Domestic Growth (GDP) is projected to recover from -20.6% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2017.

However, Consumer Price Inflation continues to rise on account of exchange rate pass-through and accommodative monetary stance. Rising from a base of 9.5% in December 2015, inflation reached 17.41% in December 2016. Exchange rate pressures remain unabated. The local currency (the Leone) had depreciated by 28.73% in December 2016 (year-on-year). The Bank of Sierra Leone has increased its weekly foreign exchange auction from $1 million to $3 million since June 2016. This notwithstanding, it has been able to maintain foreign exchange reserves to at least 3.5 months.

The overall fiscal balance (excluding grants) was projected to recover slightly from -9.6% of non-iron ore GDP in 2015 to -8.1% in 2016. Total domestic revenue collection for 2017 is projected at Le3.5 trillion, up from Le2.68 trillion set in 2016.

The IMF projects medium-term growth to pick up to around 6.5% by 2020 from 4.3% in 2016. Inflation is projected to decline to 7.5% by 2020.

Political Context

In 2012, Sierra Leone conducted its third democratic elections since the end of the 11-year civil war in 2002 that claimed the lives of over 50,000 Sierra Leoneans. President Ernest Bai Koroma is serving his second and final term, which ends in 2017. Elections will be held on March 7, 2018.

The 1991 Constitution is being reviewed and a draft has been presented by the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC). The government is drafting a White Paper on it, which will be tabled in Parliament for ratification. Once Parliament has enacted the new Constitution, a referendum to vote on the new Law will take place.

A national census, the research for which was conducted in 2015, put the country’s official population at 7,092,113.

The government has proclaimed the de-amalgamation of chiefdoms and an attendant re-division of the Northern Region into two distinct regions, namely: Northern Region and North-Western Region. This will bring the number of regions in the country to five from the initial four. However, the division is not expected to increase the number of constituencies in that part of the country. The National Electoral Commission (NEC), which is mandated to delimit constituencies, will not use this division for any fresh boundary delimitation process.

Moreover, the two Northern Regions will now consist of seven electoral districts in place of the previous five. The North-West Region covers Port Loko, Karene and Kambia districts, while the Northern Region covers Bombali, Tonkolili and Koinadugu 1, and Koinadugu 2 districts.

Development Challenges

Until the outbreak of Ebola in May 2014, Sierra Leone was seeking to become a transformed nation with middle-income status, but the country still has high youth unemployment, corruption, and weak national cohesion. It continues to face the daunting challenge of transparency in managing its natural resources and its fiscal policy. Problems of poor infrastructure and widespread rural and urban impoverishment persist in spite of progress and reforms.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

The World Bank Group (WBG) continues to engage and operate in the country in the frame of its Joint Country Assistance Strategy (JCAS) with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The current portfolio is well aligned with Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL’s) Agenda for Prosperity and the Post-Ebola Recovery Program in the areas of health, energy, education, agriculture, fisheries, ICT, PFM, decentralization, safety net, and policy reforms. More than 50% of the portfolio constitutes projects in the health and energy sectors. In the 2016 calendar year, the WBG delivered five operations worth around $250 million. These include agriculture (SCADeP), $55 million, health (HSDSSP & REDISSE) $45.5 million; energy (WAPGP) $149 million and research (SLIHS) $1.39 million. The WBG continues to work closely with other development partners to support Sierra Leone in fighting poverty, promoting economic development, and improving living standards.

It also supports policy reforms and macroeconomic management through budget sustenance in harmonization with other budget support donors, and in the areas of human development, infrastructure, and the productive sectors and governance. The Bank is also focused on strengthening country systems and helping to build the demand for good governance. A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) to inform the new Country Partnership Framework is being developed and is expected to be delivered to the Board by late Q1/early Q2. The new CPF will support Sierra Leone's Poverty Reduction Strategy III (2013–2018), the “Agenda for Prosperity”. 

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

Economic Governance

International Development Association (IDA) resources have been used directly in funding policy and institutional reform. Higher spending in these areas helped to secure improvements in service delivery and sector outcomes. Significant improvements were also made to public finance management. The Multi-Donor Budget Support dialogue had contributed to maintaining a positive trajectory of change on governance issues.

Through the Decentralized Services Delivery Project 2 (DSDP 2) project, grants have been provided to local councils (LCs) to complement inter-government fiscal transfers and flow in the areas of health and sanitation; education; rural water; solid waste management; and social assistance services for the disabled and other vulnerable groups. Achievements in this area include organizing capacity building training for LCs, Ward Committees and ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs); organizing seminars and a devolution forum to strengthen the links between LC staff and national key stakeholders; effective joint monitoring of LCs by the Decentralization Secretariat (DecSec), Local Government Finance Department (LGFD) and the Integrated Project Administration Unit (IPAU); and the organization of orientation workshops for newly elected Councilors, Gender/Social Welfare Officers, and Information, Education and Communication Officers. Salaries and grades for core staff across LCs have been harmonized. Findings from the most recent CLoGPAS have been used to tailor capacity building programs for LCs and to strengthen their ability to undertake their mandate more efficiently. Civil society monitoring teams have been recruited and trained across the country in an effort to monitor LC service delivery.

Human Development

Through concerted efforts by the government and its partners, the country successfully defeated the Ebola virus disease following the declaration of the outbreak over by the WHO first on 7 November 2015 and then on 17 March 2016. Delivered goods and services under the Ebola Emergency Response Project included ambulances; motorbikes; food; medical supplies; water storage facilities; hazard payment; contact tracers; social mobilization activities; and international responders. The Reproductive and Child Health Project 2 (RCHP2) provided essential health services for pregnant and lactating women and children under-five. PHU facilities were rehabilitated and some upgraded to BEMONCs. Staff in many facilities were receiving Performance Based Financing as incentive on top of their salaries. The RCHP2 also supported the Ebola response in the areas of PPEs and medical supplies. 

Around 46,000 young people (of the target of 29,500) benefited from the Youth Employment Support Project; 45% were females (against the target of 30%). Beneficiaries of the Cash-for-Work program include 36,393 people (of the target of 23,500). Of those temporarily employed, 16,054 were women (against a target of 7,050). The beneficiaries of the skills development and employment support programs stood at 9,600 (of the target of 6,000). Of those trained, 4,864 were women (against the target of 2,400). The project had a positive impact on women’s empowerment by reducing the incidence of domestic violence and increasing their control over contraceptive use. It also increased their use of health services, and accumulation of asset and income levels of beneficiaries improved. The project also supported the information and communication activities for youth and social mobilization in four targeted districts to help contain the spread of the Ebola virus disease. This measure benefited 11,600 households.

Revitalizing Education Development Project:  In order to address the main challenges of the education sector caused by the EVD outbreak, the Bank, through the Revitalizing Education Development Project,  helped the government deliver its emergency radio broadcasting programs during school closures; procure and distribute over 46,000 of the 70,000 handwashing stations covering about 60% of the country’s 9,000 schools; disinfect schools previously used as holding centers and clean other schools prior to reopening; launch a grassroots social mobilization campaign aimed at parents and communities to help disseminate information about returning to school; and provided school feeding to encourage the most vulnerable of children to return to school. 

Infrastructure and the Productive Sectors

The Rural and Private Sector Development Project established working relationships with all 13 elected district councils of the country, approved matching grants to 75 Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) with a total membership of nearly 5,000. These grants have provided storage sheds, drying floors, and processing equipment for the FBOs. The project supported the creation of cocoa cooperatives with a membership of nearly 13,000 people; the rehabilitation, financial, and post-contract management of nearly 530 kilometers of feeder roads, (excluding over 500km rehabilitated under phase 1), providing capacity building in the procurement of contractors for rehabilitation and routine maintenance; the establishment of seed nurseries and distribution of over 1.2 million cocoa seedlings and other planting materials for rice, cassava, and cocoa to farmers, which is helping improve productivity and rural incomes; and the establishment of a market information system and initiation of studies to support the creation of food safety standards to boost exports. 

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

Under the Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) Framework involving the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), International Development Association (IDA), European Union (EU), and Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), coordination among members and with the government has improved over the past few years. The Bank also enjoys close collaboration with United Nations (UN) institutions and other development partners.

The WBG will continue to use IDA resources and make use of IDA fiduciary and safeguard systems to leverage additional resources from Trust Fund partners to support Sierra Leone in pursuing key priorities in its Post Ebola Recovery Plan and PRSP III (Agenda for Prosperity).

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017


LENDING

Sierra Leone : Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments