• Macroeconomic Context

    After growing at an average annual rate of 7.8% over the period 2003-2014, Sierra Leone’s economic growth slowed to 4.3% in 2017 from 6.3% in 2016, due largely to weak recovery in mineral production. Inflationary pressures eased owing to relative stability of the exchange rate and the tight monetary policy stance of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Fiscal outturn deteriorated in 2017 due to a shortfall in revenue mobilization and spending overruns in all the major expenditure categories. Domestic financing remains high, exceeding the 2.0% limit on which the government’s fiscal program is anchored. The current account of the balance of payments remained under pressure as the trade deficit widened, reflecting weak export growth and increased imports of food items, machinery and petroleum products.

    Iron ore production grew by only 5.6% to 6.5 million metric tons compared to an anticipated 9.0 million metric tons. The main iron ore company, Shandong Iron and Steel Group, stopped production in November 2017 due to high operating costs and cash constraints as it reported record loses since it took over the mines from African Minerals Limited in 2016. The non-iron ore economy grew by 3.6%, slower than the 4.3% in 2016 due largely to a fall in construction activities following the slowdown in public investment in infrastructure.

    The fiscal position deteriorated in 2017, due largely to a shortfall in revenue mobilization and spending overruns in all the major expenditure categories. Total domestic revenue was 3.0% short of its 2017 target of Le3.4 trillion, increasing only slightly to 12.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) from 11.9% of GDP in 2016. The National Revenue Authority (NRA) collected Le273.3 billion in January 2018 compared Le261.5 billion in January 2017 due to collection of tax arrears. Total expenditure increased to Le6.4 trillion in 2017 from Le5.4 trillion in the previous year. Total public debt increased to 54.5% in 2017 from 53.8% in 2016.

    Political Context

    Sierra Leone held general elections on March 7, 2018 to elect a new President, Members of Parliament and Local Councils in the fourth cycle of elections since the civil war in 2002. Some 3.17 million Sierra Leoneans registered to cast their ballots across the country’s 16 Administration Districts. Sixteen candidates, including two women, vied to replace President Ernest Bai Koroma, who has served two terms of 10 years. This was the first time Sierra Leonean authorities were taking full charge of the electoral process following the departure of the UN Mission after the 2012 general elections.

    Results of the first round of voting indicated the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) candidate, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara garnered 1,082,748 votes, representing 42.7% of the valid votes cast, while the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)’s Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio pulled 1,097,482 votes, representing 43.2%. After much legal wrangling, run-off election was held on March 31 with opposition candidate Bio emerging as winner. He pulled 51.81 percent of the votes cast to Kamara’s 48.19%.

    The losing APC won majority in Parliament with 68 seats to the SLPP’s 49, the Coalition for Change (C4C) 8, and the National Grand Coalition (NGC) 4. Three independent candidates were elected. This is the first time a winning party has failed to have majority in Parliament. However, the APC candidate has filed a petition at the Supreme Court against the results.

    Development Challenges

    Until the outbreak of Ebola in May 2014, Sierra Leone was seeking to attain middle-income status by 2035, but the country still carries its post-conflict attributes of high youth unemployment, corruption and weak governance. The country continues to face the daunting challenge of enhancing transparency in managing its natural resources and creating fiscal space for development. Problems of poor infrastructure and widespread rural and urban impoverishment still persist in spite of remarkable strides and reforms.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • 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, policy reforms etc. 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 US$250 million. These include agriculture (SCADeP) – US$55 million; health (HSDSSP & REDISSE) – US$45.5 million; energy (WAPGP) – US$149 million; Research (SLIHS) – US$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.

    WBG also supports policy reforms and macroeconomic management through budget sustenance (provided in harmonization with other budget support donors), and in the areas of human development, infrastructure & 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 has been finalized and it is expected to be delivered to Board by late Q1/early Q2. The new CPF will support Sierra Leone's Poverty Reduction Strategy III (2013 - 2018) – “Agenda for Prosperity.”

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • Economic Governance

    International Development Association (IDA) resources have been used directly in funding policy and institutional reforms. 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.

    Human Development

    Through concerted efforts by government and its partners, the country successfully defeated the Ebola virus disease following the declaration of the outbreak over by the WHO first on November 7, 2015 and then on March 17, 2016. Delivered goods and services under the Ebola Emergency Response Project included vehicles -ambulances; motorbikes; food; medical supplies; water storage facilities; hazard payment; contact tracers; social mobilization activities; international responders etc. The Reproductive and Child Health Project 2 (RCHP2) provided utilization of essential health services by pregnant and lactating women and under-five children. PHU facilities were rehabilitated and some upgraded to BEMONCs.

    Around 46,000 against 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 against the target of 23,500. Of those temporarily employed, 16,054 were women against the target of 7,050. The beneficiaries of the skills development and employment support programs stood at 9,600 against the target of 6,000 youth. Of those trained, 4,864 were women against the target of 2,400. The project had positive impacts on women’s empowerment, by reducing the incidence of domestic violence and increasing their control over contraceptive use. It also increased utilization of health services, and accumulation of asset and income levels of beneficiaries improved.

    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 hand washing 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; provide 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 procurement of contractors for rehabilitation and routine maintenance; the establishment of seed nurseries and distributed 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 initiated studies to support the creation of food safety standards to boost exports. 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • 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 utilize 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 19, 2018



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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
13 Howe Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone
For general information and inquiries
Moses Alex Kargbo
Communications Associate
+232 78 874600
For project-related issues and complaints