Sierra Leoneans are concerned about the economy – says new Afrobarometer study

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 August 2020:

There is no doubt, Sierra Leone’s economy is in a mess. If not for the support of the international community and development agencies, especially the World Bank and the IMF, the economy would have been in a state of bankruptcy as the government fails to turn the economy around as promised. The government is clueless and the people of Sierra Leone are suffering.

Call it incompetence or whatever, the fact remains the government is now showing it lacks the expertise and experience to manage the economy as unemployment continues to rise, inflation running out of control with prices of basic foods skyrocketting beyond the reach of even those one may describe as middle income earners.

The country’s currency – the Leone, has lost almost 40% of its 2017 value when the former APC government was in power, with One Dollar now trading at over Twelve Thousand – Five Hundred Leones, compared to almost Nine Thousand – Five Hundred Leone in 2017.

Despite the government’s hype about the efectiveness of its New Direction policies, there is growing poverty in Sierra Leone, and it seems the government is now showing its incompetence in turning the economy around.

Since its election in April 2018, the international community, development partners, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have put in more than 500 Million Dollars into the country. Where is all that money gone?

The government’s direct cash transfer to citizens to help cushion the financial effects of COVID-19 on households has been made possible with the millions of dollars support from the World Bank.

But this support itself is ironically helping to push inflation up, as export revenue continues to remain stagnant, whiles government expenditure continues to rise, causing a massive fiscal deficit in the government’s accounts.

So, what does the latest International Afrobarometer study say about the government’s handling of the economy?

Published yesterday, the report makes for very worrisome reading, as the people of Sierra Leone begin to lose patience with the government’s failed promises and lack of ability to turn the economy around.

According to the report, “the government receives lower approval ratings on its economic performance than on other issues. Fewer than two in 10 respondents say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy (19%); improving living standards of the poor (15%); narrowing income gaps (10%); creating jobs (10%); and keeping prices stable (7%)” – an appalling performance by a government that won the 2018 presidential election by a mere three percentage points, amidst claims of ballot rigging and electoral fraud.

This is what the report published by the Institute for Governance Reform says:

“Only one-third of Sierra Leoneans say the country is going in the right direction, a significant decline after some optimism with the change in government in 2018. 

“Sierra Leoneans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their personal living conditions and the country’s economy, and very few citizens believe the government is doing a good job of handling the economy.

“Dissatisfaction with the country’s economy and personal living conditions is reflective of citizens’ increasing levels of deprivation in their everyday lives, as large majorities experience shortages of food, clean water, and other basic necessities. Citizens in the opposition-controlled Western and Northern regions are especially bleak in their outlook.

“In 2018, President Julius Maada Bio inherited an economy undergoing austerity measures and faced high expectations of economic improvement. These survey findings suggest that a series of steps to strengthen the economy have yet to translate into material gains for most citizens.”

Key findings

▪ Only one-third (32%) of Sierra Leoneans say the country is going “in the right direction,” a 13-percentage-point decline compared to 2018 (45%) (Figure 1).

o The perception that the country is moving in the right direction is more common in ruling party strongholds – Southern (57%) and Eastern (53%) regions – than in opposition party strongholds – Western (16%) and Northern (14%) regions.

▪ Just one in 10 Sierra Leoneans (11%) describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very good” (Figure 2). Negative assessments (84%) have almost doubled since 2012 (46%).

▪ Only two in 10 citizens (19%) describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good” (Figure 3). The proportion who describe their living conditions as fairly/very bad (72%) has increased by 32 percentage points since 2012 (40%).

▪ Nine in 10 respondents (89%) say they went without a cash income at least once during the year preceding the survey, including 43% who did so “many times” or “always” (Figure 4). Almost as many report experiencing shortages of medical care (81%), food (70%), and clean water (68%).

▪ The government receives lower approval ratings on its economic performance than on other issues. Fewer than two in 10 respondents say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy (19%), improving living standards of the poor (15%), narrowing income gaps (10%), creating jobs (10%), and keeping prices stable (7%).

Afrobarometer surveys

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life.

Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys in 2019/2020 are planned in at least 35 countries. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Sierra Leone, led by the Institute for Governance Reform, interviewed 1,200 adult Sierra Leoneans in March 2020. A sample of this size yields country level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

Previous surveys were conducted in Sierra Leone in 2012, 2015, and 2018.

You can read the full report and access its data and graphs here:

Sierra leoneans are increasingly concerned about the economy -afrobarometer – 20 August 2020


  1. ON THE 24TH OF THIS MONTH, Mr.Brima Sesay alleged that Former president, Ernest Bai Koroma is the richest African president without evidence. If Mr.Sesay is sure of what he is saying, let him reveal his source of information. I went to Youtube to research whether, it is true and I found out that EBK did not even make the list of the first 10 richest African presidents of 2020.
    These are the 10 richest African presidents of 2020(Latest)
    10)Abdel Fattah ELsisi(Egypt) $185mil
    9)King Mswati 111(Swaziland) $200mil
    8)Isaias Afwerki(Eritrea) $210mil
    7)Cyril Ramaphosa(SouthAfrica) $450mil
    6)Paul Biya(Cameroon) $500 mil
    5)Uhuru Kenyatta(Kenya) $500 mil
    4)Paul Kagame(Rwanda) $500 mil
    3)Obiang Nguema(Equatorial Guinea)$600 mil
    2)Ali Bongo(Gabon) $2.0 bil
    1)Mohammed VI(Morocco) $5.0 bil.
    So Mr. Sesay, there you have it. I do not know where a lot of you have your figures from, maybe from the statistics of hate.

  2. The mighty God also gave advice to the son of Adam saying “if you grateful to me I would add more on to you, but if you show ingratitude, surely my severe punishment is indeed”. Let’s be grateful to this young President. Creating hatred does not solve anything. APC scrapped the country’s economy and destroyed everything before their departure. I do not understand why APC hates to be in opposition.

    Diamonds flying out of the country like a flying pigeons. SLPP and it’s supporters were not in favor of criticizing APC as they do now. What’s wrong with the APC party folks? Stop blaming SLPP for the economy. The richest former President in Africa today is EBK, don’t you understand that?

  3. Well what do you expect? Our country is being run by a mafia clique, a lousy uncreative Criminal cabal being led by an arrogant Hangman with a dastardly economic noose – JJ saffa. And it is a sad and strange thing, is it not, that our lackadaisical President keeps leaning on such an unserious doofus lacking the drive and impetus to move this nation struggling forward? And whatever happened to an attitude devoted to thrifty prudent spending that promotes speedy robust economic growth? Why was it thrown out of the window and replaced by rampant thefts and mindless extravagant spending? Is this what the New Direction is about – wasting our meager resources, buying vehicles for party loyalists, friends, family members and concubines?

    Since when did you people with huge protruding pot-bellies come to the decision that the plight and suffering of the poor masses is not something urgent enough to be addressed? Oh well, its all in your hands now, 2023 is not too far away. Keep shrugging of those realistic and pressing needs of our people – take them for granted, rob and build them castles in the air instead and see if that will suffice to get your arrogant tribalistic people re-elected in Sierra Leone, the only place I am proud to call my home.

  4. With the survey conducted in March of 2020 prior to the Convid-19 hitting the shores of Sierra Leone and a whopping 70% of the respondent indicating the country was heading in the wrong direction, i am curious to know what would have been the citizens opinion now that Convid-19 have added another debilitating economic effect. Unless you happen to be one of those delusional PAOPA supporters constantly staying afloat in cloud cuckoo, there is no denial that our country is indeed heading towards the wrong direction.

    Since the new regime takes over the mantle of leadership, almost every economic, developmental, and democratic indicators are trending towards the negative direction. All across our nation, North, West, East, and Southern regions; the citizens of Salone are battling with untold suffering exacerbated by the poor economic decisions taken by this regime with an obsession to accumulate political power by all means necessary.

    Instead of focusing on the bread and butter issues which the people of Sierra Leone mainly cares about, these nincompoops opted to exert all their energies towards power grabbing and annihilating any opposition figure that stands their way. Twenty-nine months into their regime, they are living the good life, building masons and lavishing their family members with extravagant lifestyles while majority of those who voted for them continue to languish in abject poverty.

  5. The reality is Sierra Leone was and is still one of the poorest country in the world. The new direction government was honest to tell the voters that they inherited the worst economy since independence and I personally hope our government will use their magic wand to transform our country which was under austerity to prosperity within 2 years after 11 years of corruption and destruction.

    The only option that was available for the new direction government was the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just to jumpstart the economy and unfortunately they have no option but to apply their conditions. The fight against corruption is the foundation to restore the confidence of our donor partners which is our saving grace due to the fact that government workers are paid regularly without resorting to borrowing from banks, and even during this difficult times the World Bank has described our economy as resilient.

    Until the conditions of the IMF are lifted and with the diversification of our economy ( mainly Human Capital Development, agriculture and improved exports ) which will take some time to see results, our only hope will be our donors partners that are currently under the threat of economic recession or depression due to Covid-19. Finally the current division in our country is a direct reflection of this survey of about 1000 people, because people in the stronghold of the new direction government have a positive perception about the economy which is quite the opposite to the opposition strongholds.

  6. I retired to my home town a couple years ago. I conferred with a group of young people to build a bakery where I know there is very limited bread supply to go round for my people to break bread in a wider community. My boys got back to me on that proposal that they would rather have a machine to mix the dough. The lone Fullahman who toils alone in his local bakery, only bakery in town, does his baking using his hands with rubber gloves to pound the dough – reportedly, no young man has ever offered his service to join him as aid or in apprenticeship.

    I did baking in my early days as an apprentice, the same way – pounding flour to get by, while I sat at the feet of the town Sheik to learn the Koran. My young folks are always like: You borbor dey Sir, with earphones jacked into large mobile phones to listen to music; watch and argue over foreign football games in the evening…no book in hand …fancy crepe sole shoes and all. That’s the new direction plodding along to resurge the economy with a magic wand. Greetings!

  7. The only suprise with this report is that people are actually surprised. To say the Sierra Leone economy has tanked since the election of this government of President Bio, is an understatement. If the economy he inherited was on life suppport machine, Bio and his acolyte have finally pulled the plug. Now the economy is in a free for all. And the problems keep piling up; and that is despite the generosity of international finicial institutions. We know covid19 might have exacerbated the problems, like every other economy around the world but long before covid19 hit our shores, our country has always been befeated with cronic and endemic corruption.

    Until we have good and well meaning Sierra Leoneans, that have the country and its people at heart, setting clear goals and sticking to them come rain or sunshine, we will forever remain in the doldrums of the ranking of the world index of the least and most corrupt states. OUR PROBLEM IS MAN MADE.! Now when you factor the lack of direction and reining on President Bio ‘s commitments, you get a clear picture why the economy of Sierra Leone is heading south. Where is all the millions of dollars taken on behalf of every Sierra-leonean.

    I think the international financial institutions should turn off the tap of this money supply, or they risk being accused of being part of the problem. WHY IS REMITTANCE MONEY MORE PORODUCTIVE IN HELPING MILLOINS OF FAMILIES THAN THIS FRAUD THE IMF AND OTHER FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS HAVE DONE FOR THE COUNTRY? Because the money goes to people that need it most. May God bless Sierra-leone.

  8. Bad news from radio Africa-Sierra Leone. The ordinary people are suffering. It needs a fundamental political change. And please, don’t trust too much the World Bank and IMF. There are bad examples of some countries in latin america and Greece which are in the clutches of these agencies. The privatization they prefer is almost always at the expence of the ordinary people.

  9. We know the government has to take the lead, but what are the citizens doing to help themselves. The government can only do so much. The people themselves should play a role in their development.

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