More than half of the population in Sierra Leone live on less than $1.25 a day, and Sierra Leone is one of the riskiest places for women to give birth and for young children to live. Few young people leave school with a good education. Electricity reaches only around 10% of the population and opportunities to earn income are very limited for the 100,000 young people entering the job market each year.

According to the African Development Bank with the discovery of iron ore in 2011, mining became the main growth driver, resulting in an unprecedented growth rate of 21% in 2013. However, following the downward trend in the international price of iron ore and the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014—the economy contracted 20.6% in 2015. Resumption of operation by one of the two iron ore companies led to a rebound of the economy, with a growth rate of 6.3% in 2016 and an estimated 5.7% in 2017. The outlook for 2018 and beyond will continue to be challenging, due to the uncertainty surrounding the international prices of iron ore. GDP growth is expected to be 6.1% in 2018 and 6.5% in 2019.


BERF work in Sierra Leone

BERF completed a diagnostic study in Sierra Leone in 2017.  The country was also included in the Youth Labour Markets study alongside Kenya and Nigeria,  In support of this study, a specific youth tracer study was undertaken.

BERF Sierra Leone Projects

  1. Skills and School Leavers in the Sierra Leone Labour Market October 2017
  2. Youth Labour Markets Research September 2017 
  3. Sierra Leone Business Environment Diagnostic Report May 2017



World Bank Doing Business

Sierra Leone‘s overall rank in 2018 was 160.  The distance to frontier score was 48.24, a very slight improvement on 2017 (48.18), but below the regional average score of 50.43.  The lowest relative rankings in Sierra Leone are Dealing with Construction Permits, and Getting Electricity.

In 2018 the World Bank report the following reform progress areas, although the pace of overall progress is modest.

  1.  Starting a Business: Sierra Leone made starting a business easier by combining multiple registration procedures.
  2.  Trading across Borders: Sierra Leone made trading across borders easier through a series of initiatives, including the elimination of export permits and the implementation of pre-arrival processing.

DFID Sierra Leone Strategy

Tackling global health threats: The UK led the international response when the Ebola outbreak overwhelmed Sierra Leone. By deploying 2,000 military personnel, NHS staff and civil servants The UK helped end the epidemic, saved thousands of lives, and stopped Ebola from spreading. With UK help Sierra Leone is now ready to contain future outbreaks before they grow into epidemics. That includes training community health workers so they can spot potential new cases, helping set up rapid response teams across the country, and working to establish 3 laboratories.

Basic services: UK assistance helps poor people access vital services: health, education and water. The UK support is strengthening the health system to reduce the very high number of women and young children who die each year, training midwives, providing lifesaving medicines, and upgrading health facilities with better water, sanitation and electricity. The UK is building classrooms and helping teachers to deliver a decent education. The UK  is expanding access to clean water and sanitation to around 700,000 people for whom it is not currently within reach.

Economic development: The UK is helping businesses to create more jobs, including by investing in electricity and roads. Economic growth will enable the government to raise more of its own tax.