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The Economic Devastation in Sierra Leone

In: Historical Events

Submitted By agates
Words 2541
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The Economic Devastation in Sierra Leone
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. This country borders Guinea from left to right and Liberia from southeast as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly, the colony was control by the Sierra Leone Company in 1792, until it became a British colony in 1808. Independence came in April 1961, when Sierra Leone opted for a parliamentary system within the British Commonwealth. Sierra Leone Peoples Party led by Sir Milton's of the led helped the country gain independence and the first general election under universal adult franchise in May 1962. In present day, The total area of Sierra Leone covers 71,740 km, with an estimated population of 5.4 to 6.4 million, growing at rate of about 2.6 percent per annum. Over two-thirds of the population lives in absolute poverty. Rural life, with the exception of the diamond and gold mining areas, is generally at a subsistence level. The average Life expectancy is very low, estimated at 42 years; and infant mortality is among the highest in the world, also primary school enrollment is among the lowest in Africa. Although Sierra Leone is blessed with abundant rainfall, substantial mineral resources, some fertile soils, and extensive marine fisheries, Sierra Leone is classified as one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Sierra Leone has good relations with the West, including the United States and has maintained historical ties with the United Kingdom and other former British colonies through membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. The United Kingdom has played a major role in providing aid to the former colony, together with administrative help and military training since intervening to end the Civil War in 2000. Poor economic performance is largely due to the war in Sierra Leone. The civil war has disrupted any improvements to the country’s infrastructure for nearly a decade; the road system is in serious need of repair, as the lack of resources has led to neglect. The small railway system is used very infrequently because the mines it leads to have been closed. Air transport in Sierra Leone is focused on the International Airport at Lungi, which, prior to the war, served many airlines, such as KLM, British Airways, and the regional airlines. Sierra Leone imports 70% of its requirements and suffers from extreme shortages of foreign currency. The war consumes as much as 75% of the government’s financial and material resources. The resultant effect on the economy has been a collapse in the revenue base, and significant increases in the budget deficit, bank financing, and domestic and external payment arrears. By 2000 real GDP, at US $636m, was only around 84% of GDP in 1990, and GNP was a mere 57% of its value in 1980. Despite its extensive mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, Sierra Leone is an impoverished country, and has been rated as the world's poorest nation consistently for the past five years, unless drastic change occurs.
In the early 1990s, the economy of Sierra Leone is bloodless. The State of Sierra Leone was placed under the supervision of the IMF in 1978. Victims of illegal trafficking, official diamond production, wood, never ceased to decline. The country is not industrialized. The civil war has exacerbated the situation. Today peaceful but rolled by conflict, Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world. Tourism once flourished but has been devastated by civil war. Foreign investment is nonexistent; the revival of the economy is precarious and is slowed by the difficulties to reintegrate former combatants into the world of work. In 2003, the GDP per capita was one hundred and sixty dollars. Sierra Leone’s GDP is case of purchasing power parity is computed to be $3.991 billion in 2007. GDP in terms of real growth is about 7%. The GDP per capita is $600. The number of employable people or labor force is approximately 1.369 million in 1981. Agricultural activities remain the biggest employer with agriculture contributing to 49%. Industry and service followed respectively with 31% and 21%.Leone exported $216 million worth of goods in 2006 Commodities exported from included rutile, diamonds, fish, coffee and cocoa. Belgium is the biggest importer. Other notable countries are the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. Sierra Leone imports machinery, chemicals, fuels and equipment. Sierra Leone’s economy is overly dependent o aid from abroad. Economic aid to the tune of $343.4 million was received in 2006. The country imported $560 million worth of goods in 2006. Principal import partners are china and Cote’lvoire and the United Kingdom. However the economic situation in this country suggests improvements: the growth rate is positive and went until reaching 7.4% in 2004; inflation is almost zero and the IMF mentions progress established in stabilizing the economy and the ongoing recovery of the agricultural and mining sectors. The Sierra Leone has a real economic potential of the richness of its subsoil such as gold, iron, bauxite, diamonds, rutile. The size of its agricultural potential has given the opportunity to redevelop tourism. The agriculture is the primary source of jobs in the country: it accounts for two thirds of the workforce for about 50% of the Gross National Product. Agricultural exports accounted for almost 7.5 million dollars and the main exports are coffee, grain palm, cocoa, the nuts of cola and spice. Rice is grown by 80% of farmers, is the most important source of livelihood, and with the millet in the north-east, a commodity, 247,000 tons were produced in 1999. Rice is the second most important staple crop in Sierra Leone with 85 percent of farmers cultivating rice during the rainy season with annual consumption of about 76 kg per person. In 2004 an area of 810 sq. miles was cultivated for rice producing an annual yield of 265,000 tons. Rice is grown in three different ecologies, Mangrove swamp rice, upland rice and deep-water rice with around 77 sq. mi of land in deep-water rice cultivation Sierra Leone is the main area for tropical deep-water rice. The second staple food grown across the country is cassava with an annual yield of 350,000 tons in 2006. The main areas of production are in the south-west, central and far north. The main problems with cassava cultivation include disease and pests. Other food products are the pineapple, the yam, the peanut, the corn, the nuts coconut, the tomato and pepper. The coffee is grown in the provinces of East and South, production totaled 15,000 tons in 1999. The cocoa is grown in areas of Kenema and Kailahun in eastern provinces and the Pujehun area of the southern province, mostly in small agricultural land of about 0.4 to 12 hectares. In 1999, an estimated 11,000 tons of cocoa was produced. The production of palm oil is derived from cultures of palm wild, mainly in the northeast and southeast, the production included 22,000 tons of grain palm and 36,000 tons of oil palm in 1999. Although there is a significant local consumption of palm kernels, most of the production is exported. The civil war seriously depleted the level of livestock in the country, although numbers have recovered since the end of the war in 2002. Cattle are found in the north of the country and farming is dominated by the Fula ethnic group who owns the majority of cattle in the country and often manages cattle owned by other groups. Lastly, Sierra Leone is endowed with abundant water resources, including seven major rivers. There are substantial groundwater resources. However, water is scarce during the dry season: only 11-17 percent of the annual river discharge occurs between December and April, with minimum discharge in April. Water supply in Sierra Leone is characterized by limited access to safe drinking water. Despite efforts by the government and numerous non-governmental organizations, access has not much improved since the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War in 2002, stagnating at about 50% and even declining in rural areas. In the capital Freetown, taps often run dry. It is hoped that a new dam in Orugu, for which China committed financing in 2009, will alleviate water scarcity. Sierra Leone has the problem of extreme income inequality. The marked absence of physical and social infrastructure hampers economic development. The lack of physical infrastructure inhibits the country’s ability to economically capitalize on its considerable fishery, agricultural and mineral resources. Industry accounted for 27% of GDP in 2000, and is oriented toward the processing of raw materials and of light manufactured goods for domestic consumption. The sector has suffered from a lack of foreign exchange, high import costs, unreliable local services, and political instability. Manufacturing scenario costs of light manufacturing and raw materials processing. Alluvial diamond minion amounted for approximately half of Sierra Leone’s total exports. It contributed 35% to GDP in 1998 and employed 10% of the workforce in 1998. This sector has been severely affected by the civil war. Prior to 1990 Sierra Leone was a world leader in rutile production. Diamonds are the major source of hard currency, but controlled by the Revolutionary United Front and other as rather than the state, the large majority are smuggled out of the country. In mid-2000 the UN Security Council imposed a global ban on the sale of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone until an inspection and certification system was in place. In October, after this had been put in place, the government lifted the export ban allowing for government controlled mining areas to resume activities. It is now much harder and less profitable for the rebel RUF to sell diamonds through Liberia. The mining of rutile and bauxite, halted by the conflict, will need substantial investment and rehabilitation to restart operations. Sierra Leone has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile, a titanium ore used as paint pigment and welding rod coatings. Sierra Rutile Limited, owned by a consortium of U.S. and European investors, began commercial mining operations near Bonthe in early 1979. Sierra Rutile was then the largest nonpetroleum U.S. investment in West Africa. The export of 88,000 tons realized $75 million in export earnings in 1990. The company and the Government of Sierra Leone concluded a new agreement on the terms of the company's concession in Sierra Leone in 1990. Rutile and bauxite mining operations were suspended when rebels invaded the mining sites in 1995, but exports resumed in 2005. In 2010, Sierra Rutile produced almost 10% of Sierra Leone’s mining revenue. In May 2001 the government announced that substantial qualities of off-shore and gas reserves had been found, if true will have major implications for the future of economic policy and politics in Sierra Leone.
Despite the government's attempts to maintain some sort of fiscal regime, the country is almost entirely reliant on loans and aid handouts from donors and from the World Bank and IMF. The country faces major development challenges as evidenced by its very low rank on the Human Development Index, rank after Afghanistan and Niger and staggering rates of youth unemployment. Even though Sierra Leone weathered the economic crisis well, the 6% growth forecast for 2012 will still be below pre-crisis growth rates. There’s a need for further growth acceleration if the country is to overcome its economic fragility and reduce the income gap with more advanced economies. Macroeconomic policies can help in this regard by making achievement of high growth a key policy priority. Inflation started to decline in 2011 after rising to 18% in September 2010 due to fiscal expansion and the "one-off effect" from the introduction of goods and service tax. On the supply side, expanded domestic food production is expected to offset rising food prices. Supported by appropriate monetary and fiscal policies and a stabilized the nominal exchange rate, average inflation is expected to decline to upper single digits in 2011 and ease further by the end of 2012. Additional pressures to raise public sector wages, a weakening of the exchange rate, and higher than expected increases in food and fuel prices constitute the main risks to the inflation outlook. According to the 2011 budget, fiscal space will be created and expenditures reprioritized to raise capital and social spending. These will be financed by a combination of higher tax revenues, the proceeds of privatization and external as well as by savings from cutting non-essential current outlays. The authorities are expected to further improve tax administration and minimize discretionary tax exemptions in order to meet revenue targets. Due to higher capital spending, the budget deficit is projected to expand from 4.6% of GDP in 2010 to 5.9% of GDP in 2011; in 2012, it is expected to decline to 5.3% of GDP. Following the successful implementation of the previous economic reform program, the International Monetary Fund in June 2010 approved a new three-year program for Sierra Leone, supported under the Extended Credit Facility arrangement, amounting to USD 45.4 million. This new program has been designed to support the government’s efforts to enhance economic growth by increasing investment in infrastructure and developing an accessible financial sector, while maintaining macroeconomic stability. Care needs to be taken to support the program as it progresses with the right macroeconomic policies. Specifically, given the country’s enormous development needs, future macroeconomic policy will need to steer clear of overly tight stances that would bring about short-term stability at the expense of longer term growth. Flexible macroeconomic policies need to be accompanied by reforms to improve the business environment, training program to create job opportunities, especially for young people entering the labor market, and the building of a social safety net for the most vulnerable.

Works Cited

14, Roland MarkeJune. "Op-Ed - Sierra Leone: Water Crisis Threatens Survival in Freetown -" - World News From World Newspapers. 14 June 2009. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
"CIA - The World Factbook." Welcome to the CIA Web Site — Central Intelligence Agency. CIA. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
DeCapua, Joe. "Sierra Leone Seeks Investors in Agriculture, Electricity | Africa | English." News | English. VOAnews, 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
"Economic Development - Sierra Leone - Export, Growth, Economic Growth, Infrastructure, Sector." Encyclopedia of the Nations - Information about Countries of the World, United Nations, and World Leaders. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
"Is Sierra Leone's Economy Showing Signs of Growth?" Patriotic Vanguard. 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.
Sesay, Bai-Bai. "AfricaNews - Sierra Leone: Agriculture Boosts Economy - RSS English." - Sharing Views on Africa. African Interactive, 7 Oct. 2007. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
"Sierra Leone - African Economic Outlook." African Economic Outlook - Measuring the Pulse of Africa. African Economic Outlook. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
"Sierra Leone Economy | Economy Watch." World, US, China, India Economy, Investment,
Finance, Credit Cards | Economy Watch. Economywatch, 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 08 Dec.
"Sierra Leone Information on Economic Freedom | Facts, Data, Analysis, Charts and More." Conservative Policy Research and Analysis. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
"Sierra Leone." U.S. Department of State. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.

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