Sierra Leone is extremely poor and nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that destroyed most institutions before ending in the early 2000s.
The Internet penetration was only 4.6% of the population in 2016. Nevertheless Internet acces is slowly improving as 3G mobile cellular data services keeps growing and thanks to the arrival in 2011 of the ACE international fiber-optic cable system in the capital, Freetown.
Internet access in Sierra Leone has been sparse, but is on the increase. Problems experienced with access to the Internet include an intermittent electricity supply and a slow connection speed in the country outside Freetown. Outside of Freetown enterprises generally have to rely on VSAT satellite services. The incumbent operator upgraded its fixed-line infrastructure to support ADSL in 2014. The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) is the regulatory body in Sierra Leone.
In recent years economic growth in Sierra Leone has been driven by mining – particularly iron ore. The country’s principal exports are iron ore, diamonds, and rutile, and the economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices. Until 2014, the government had relied on external assistance to support its budget, but it was gradually becoming more independent. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, combined with falling global commodities prices, caused a significant contraction of economic activity in all areas. While the World Health Organization declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in November 2015, low commodity prices in 2015-2016 contributed to the country’s biggest fiscal shortfall since 2001. In 2017, increased iron ore exports are expected to support modest economic growth. Non-mining activities will remain constrained by inadequate infrastructure, such as power and roads, even though power sector projects may provide some additional electricity capacity in the near term.
Continued economic growth will depend on rising commodities prices and increased efforts to diversify the sources of growth. Pervasive corruption and undeveloped human capital will continue to deter foreign investors. Sustained international donor support in the near future will partially offset these fiscal constraints.
The Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel) is 100% owned by the Government of Sierra Leone and is the leading operator in the country. In addition to its fixed-line business, Serratel services include mobile voice and data services on its CDMA network, fiber-based landline, and dedicated wholesale bandwidth. With an eye on its future sustainability and competitiveness, Sierratel is now actively seeking to launch 4G services over LTE in 2017.
None at the moment, although Airtel has plans to construct a new Africa data center in Sierra Leone. The new building will be the first pre-fab data center to be created at large scale on the continent. A 4,100 square foot eCenter will be pre-built in Flexenclosure’s Swedish factory and installed with a complete system.