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.