Over the last 15 years, Sierra Leone has seen significant economic growth. The civil war ended in 2002, and the last remaining sanctions were lifted by the UN Security Council in 2010; Sierra Leone was seen as a country on the up. President Ernest Bai Koroma launched an “Agenda for Prosperity” in 2013, aiming to bring the country closer to a “middle-income country” status within the next few decades.
Mining has historically been the basis for the country’s economy. Sierra Leone has excellent natural resources including iron ore, diamonds, gold, bauxite, and other minerals. Mining has attracted a large amount of foreign investment and in 2013 played a large part in pushing growth to 20%.
Progress has levelled off since then and there is a feeling that the time may be right for the country to diversify from its reliance on mining; however, mining is sure to remain an important part of the economy.
Other industries that employ workers in Sierra Leone include tobacco, farming (notably coffee, cocoa, and kola nuts), food and drink processing, and oil/petrol.
Tourism is an industry on the up, and is expected to continue to rise, as Sierra Leone can boast beautiful beaches and a tropical climate. Communities such as Bureh, a fishing village, are establishing new identities as tourist destinations, with bars, restaurants, and surf clubs. Neighboring West African countries have successfully boosted their appeal to tourists, and it is hoped that Sierra Leone will do so as well.
If you would like to work in Sierra Leone and don’t already have an employer to sponsor you, it’s a good idea to start by browsing online recruitment sites such as JobSearchSL or Careers SL.There are also various specialist sites advertising vacancies in the oil and mining sectors, and diplomatic jobs are listed online by the relevant embassies.
There are a number of large companies in Freetown including Fourah Bay College, the Awareness Times newspaper, The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, and Capital Radio.
Anyone being sent to Sierra Leone for business purposes will need a business visa. As well as the normal visa requirements (certificate of vaccination, passport, completed visa application form, passport photograph) the authorities will ask for a profile of the company you represent, with a letter of invitation from a registered company or organization in Sierra Leone. You will also be asked to provide evidence that you have sufficient financial resources to fund the period you intend to stay in Sierra Leone.
For those planning on staying and working in Sierra Leone for longer, they will need to acquire a temporary residency visa as well as a work permit. Your (future) employer should help you with this.