- Sierra Leone's economic recovery since the end of the civil war has been "broad-based, reflecting improved business confidence," according to the latest economic assessment of country's economy. Especially the sectors of agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services have shown a significant recovery.
According to the latest review of Sierra Leone's economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), "growth prospects in the medium term are encouraging." Sierra Leone, which still is listed as the world's poorest country, has already experienced a magnificent economic growth in the post-war years. In 2002, real GDP growth reached 27.5 percent, slowly declining to a still considerable growth rate of 7.4 percent last year.
Real growth is projected in the range of 6-7 percent in 2005-07, with higher growth in 2005, led by mineral exports. This growth prospect, according to the IMF report, was reflecting some mining projects coming to fruition, agricultural expansion, and service-related activities in the country's post-conflict phase.
Security is described as the basic component of economic recovery in Sierra Leone, given that the especially brutal ten-year civil war had left all economic activities in ruins.
Much progress has been made in 2003 and 2004 towards completing Sierra Leone's post-conflict transition. The government concluded the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration exercise in February 2004. Security in neighbouring Liberia has improved and will enhance stability in Sierra Leone, the IMF observes.
Also Sierra Leonean authorities focus on security issues regarding economic recovery. The authorities' overall strategy for promoting growth and reducing poverty identifies six key strategic areas: strengthening security; a more sustainable fiscal position; raising domestic savings and investment; strengthening infrastructure; agricultural and rural development; and the promotion of the private sector.
The IMF commended Sierra Leonean authorities on concluding the disarmament and reintegration exercise for over 72,000 former combatants in February 2004, which had led to a significant improvement in the security situation of the country. Also, the UN's decision to stay in the country at least until mid-2005 would provide time for the government to train and equip its police and military forces.
The projected strong growth would, however, still leave Sierra Leone quite far in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. State revenues are too limited to make the necessary social investments in order to improve access to for example education and health facilities.
Poverty in Sierra Leone is so deep-rooted that it would need a decade of two-digit growth rates to make large social improvements. The total adult literacy rate, for example, is only at 31.4 percent and at 18.2 percent for adult women. Infant mortality stands at 14.5 percent.
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