flag Sierra Leone Sierra Leone: Investing

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2023, in 2022, FDI flows to Sierra Leone increased to an estimated USD 250 million, from USD 212 million one year earlier. At the end of the same period, the FDI stock was estimated at USD 2.688 billion, representing around 68.2% of the country’s GDP. Traditionally, Sierra Leone's main investors were Nigeria, Sweden, Mauritius, Belgium, Germany, and the United States, but China has become a major investor. At the beginning of 2024, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to incentivize Chinese companies to invest in Sierra Leone, a country abundant in minerals yet facing economic challenges. This commitment is part of Beijing's overarching strategy to strengthen economic and political relations with Africa over the long term. According to data from the American Enterprise Institute think tank, Chinese firms have invested USD 6.4 billion in Sierra Leone since 2010, primarily focusing on metals. In December 2023, Sierra Leone inked an agreement with China Road and Bridge Corporation to construct an 8-km (5-mile) bridge spanning the river that divides the capital Freetown from the country's primary airport. The project is estimated to cost USD 1.5 billion. Foreign investors are engaged in energy (including renewable energy), infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and natural resources.

Sierra Leone presents considerable investment opportunities across various sectors. The nation boasts abundant mineral reserves and natural resources, benefiting from a tropical climate and fertile soil ideal for agriculture. Additionally, its extensive continental shelf offers diverse fishery resources, while the natural environment holds potential for tourism. Sierra Leone possesses vast mineral resources, including iron ore, diamonds, gold, rutile, ilmenite, and bauxite. Opportunities also abound in energy, water, telecommunications, and other infrastructure sectors. Sierra Leone is trying to attract investments through public-private partnerships (PPPs) to undertake major infrastructural projects, particularly in power, water, roads, ports, and telecommunications, etc. The country’s substantial mining wealth, the absence of any arbitrary discrimination against foreign companies and restrictions on the repatriation of profits, as well as the sale of assets (guaranteed by the new investment code) make Sierra Leone attractive for FDI. However, the shortage in skilled labor, the lack of infrastructure, the slow legal system, the high level of corruption, political violence, and serious social disorder due to socio-economic disparities are major obstacles to FDI. Both foreign and domestic private entities have the freedom to establish and own business enterprises and engage in profitable activities. Foreigners are permitted to establish, acquire, and divest interests in business ventures. However, there are restrictions on foreign investment in specific sectors such as arms and ammunition, cement block manufacturing, granite and sandstone excavation, certain consumer durable goods manufacturing, and military, police, and correctional officers’ attire and equipment. Moreover, there are regulations on land ownership by foreign entities and individuals, with limitations contingent on the location of the land being utilized. Sierra Leone ranks 108th among the 180 economies on the 2023 Corruption Perception Index and 163rd out of 184 countries on the latest Index of Economic Freedom.


Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Sierra Leone Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 6.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 8.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 173212250
FDI Stock (million USD) 2,219.52,437.82,687.8
Number of Greenfield Investments*
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 05156

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.


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Tax Rates

Goods and services tax (GST)
15% Goods and Sevices Tax (GST)
Examples of zero-rated supplies are exports (except the exports of minerals, including gold and diamonds), and goods shipped as stores on ships or aircraft leaving Sierra Leone.
Exempt supplies include rice, piped water, fuel, books, educational and medical services, specified pharmaceutical supplies and financial services and minerals for export, including gold and diamonds.
Company Tax
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 10%, Interests: 15%, Royalties: 25%.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers
Other Domestic Resources
National Revenue Authority
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.

Individual Taxes

Personal income tax Progressive rates from 0 to 35%
First SLL 6,000,000 0%
Next SLL 6,000,000 15%
Next SLL 6,000,000 20%
Next SLL 6,000,000 30%
Above SLL 24,000,000 35%

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Sierra Leone Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 34.0 36.6 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 343.0 284.8 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 30.7 47.3 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Investment Opportunities

Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Fontier Market Network, Tenders in Africa
African Tenders
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Setting Up a Company
Consult Doing Business Website, to know about procedures to start a Business in Sierra Leone.
Useful Resources
Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA)
Economic Developments and Prospects in Sierra Leone - African Economic Outlook
Business Portal for Africa

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Sierra Leone Sub-Saharan Africa
Procedures (number) 5.00 7.51
Time (days) 8.00 21.30

Source: Doing Business.


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Latest Update: May 2024