China’s $9 million financial support package for Sierra Leone is too little too late – says critics

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 February 2024:

President Xi Jinping of China yesterday agreed a $9 million financial and technical aid package for Sierra Leone, during talks in Beijing with Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, who is in China hoping to return home with substantial economic aid and investment package worth hundreds of millions of dollars to help bail out the government from bankruptcy and boost economic growth.

The financial package doled out to President Bio by China yesterday, is comprised of $6.9 million in economic and technical assistance, $2.7 million in debt cancellation, as well as 1500 tonnes of food assistance.

But critics of the government say that the Chinese financial support package for Sierra Leone is far too little too late. Sierra Leone currently owes $78 million to China, which is equivalent to just 2.5% of the government’s total public debt.

Many Sierra Leoneans, if not President Bio, had expected the Chinese government to have cancelled the entire $78 million owed to China.

It is not certain how much of the $6.9 million financial and technical assistance announced yesterday for Sierra Leone, is real cash that can be used by President Bio to help cushion the dire economic struggles Sierra Leoneans are experiencing.

The worry though, is that the 1500 tonnes of food aid to be shipped by China to Sierra Leone,  will disappear into private stores, run and controlled by ruling party officials and government ministers, rather than feed the hungry.

But amid these criticisms, State House in Freetown is rather upbeat by President Xi Jinping announcement.

“During the meeting, President Xi Jinping stated that President Bio was the first African Head of State to be received in 2024 and described the long-standing relationship between Sierra Leone and China as an efficient cooperation,” a statement from State House reads.

“He highlighted various forms of assistance Sierra Leone had benefitted from China and expressed firm commitment to supporting the President’s big five priorities. He commended President Bio’s leadership of African Union’s C-10 and assured him of China’s support for the African common position on the reform of the Security Council.

“He invited President Bio to the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit this year, adding that “our relationship has been a fine example of Africa-China relationship”.

“President Bio expressed gratitude to President Xi Jinping for the economic and technical assistance, debt cancellation and food assistance to Sierra Leone. He noted that the relationship between the two nations dated back to 1971 and that the bond had transcended geographical distance.

“He thanked President Xi Jinping for China’s support to Sierra Leone during the UN Security Council elections and assured him that Sierra Leone would support resolutions to enhance global peace and security.

“China has been a reliable partner of Sierra Leone. It is my conviction that this visit will deepen the bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and China,” President Bio stated.

However, one policy analyst in Freetown said: “It may seem that our President Bio  may have been scammed by the Chinese. After dishing the Chinese Ports and Rail, Black Johnson, etc etc, Xijiping gave him pittance. Even the cost of the trip would have eaten half of the money China gave.”

Writing on Twitter, Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah said: “China may have taken more than a billion dollars in resources from our motherland but only giving us back an amount sufficient only to cover transport fares and DSAs for our leaders. We should be embarrassed as a sovereign nation!”


  1. My prediction has come to pass : the Chinese sent Bio home with an empty suitcase. What is $9 million for an economy the size of Sierra Leone’s? The Chinese must have been simultaneously perplexed and amused that their visiting beggar jetted in on a hired jet, it’s like pulling up on someone’s doorstep in a BMW asking for a cup of rice. Bio’s world has collapsed around him. Poor lad, even those around him have begun to question his balance because of his uncanny desire to be out of the country all the time while his people perish.

  2. Even when we are begging, we appear to have the attitude of entitlement How many times should China forgive our debt after we so badly mismanage our economy with misplaced priorities and personal aggrandizement? If the top Chinese echelon live as ours do,lavishly in conspicuous consumption, China would have gone bankrupt. Are we not ashamed of begging to survive? What happened to our national pride? Again like the rest of our society, we want free money without having to work for it, the permanent culture of dependency. That culture cannot build, develop and help sustain a nation. Shame!Shame! Shame!

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