Sierra Leone bounces back from Ebola crisis
From TETEH KAMARA in Freetown, Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, (CAJ News) – AFTER years of decline emanating from the twin shocks of the Ebola virus epidemic and the halt in iron-ore mining, economic momentum is building again in Sierra Leone.
Gross domestic product is expected to grow by 4,3 percent this year from a contraction of 21 percent in 2015.
“The improvement reflects the pick-up in economic activities following the end of Ebola, and the resumption of iron ore mining early this year,” said the International Monetary Fund’s John Wakeman-Linn after leading a mission of the organisation to Sierra Leone.
The IMF mission visited the capital city Freetown during March 15–29, to conduct the fifth review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and hold the 2016 Article IV consultation discussions.
The IMF team noted that over the medium term (2017–19), growth could average 5 percent owing to expected improvements in the external environment and implementation of a wide range of post-Ebola recovery initiatives in key sectors.
However, there are important downside risks.
Ebola virus could resurface, dampening economic activities.
Dependence on external flows, especially from iron ore exports and donor support, leaves the economy exposed to external shocks.
IMF thus recommended to ensure the economy was prepared to address these risks, policy makers would need to be prepared to adjust policies as necessary should the economic environment change.
During the two-week tour, the IMF mission met with President Ernest Koroma, Minister of Finance, Kaifalah Marah, and Minister of State for Finance Patrick Conteh as well as the Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone, Momodu Kargbo.
Sierra Leone, the West African country of 7 million, is emerging from a deadly Ebola outbreak that claimed the lives of more than 11 000 people in 2014 and 2015.
– CAJ News
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