Since the closure of the French Embassy in Freetown in 1996, the French Embassy in Guinea has also covered Sierra Leone. Since the 2014 closure of our Embassy office, France has had an honorary consul in Freetown. The Sierra Leonean Ambassador to France resides in Brussels. Sierra Leone is considering the opening of an Embassy in Paris. The last visit to Sierra Leone by a French Minister dates back to March 2001 (joint visit by the Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie with his British counterpart). President Ernest Bai Koroma led the Sierra Leone delegation to the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, which was organized in Paris on 6-7 December 2013. This was the first visit to France by a Sierra Leonean President.
In 2017, trade between France and Sierra Leone stood at €39.4 million.
French exports are made up of agrifood products (46.7%), mechanical, electric, electronic and computer equipment and machines for extraction or construction (32.3%), transport equipment (4.5%) and chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics (4.1%).
French imports grew by 6% in 2017 to €19.59 million, of which natural hydrocarbons and other extractive industries products made up 24.6%, transport equipment 20.3%, mechanical, electric, electronic and computer equipment 18.8%, and chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics 11.9%.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) and French presence
Data from the Bank of France shows that in 2016, FDI stock in Sierra Leone stood at €107 million, up 42% year-on-year, with inflows estimated at €79 million. Our presence in Sierra Leone remains limited:
- As of 2006, Total, which is Sierra Leone’s second-largest fuel distributor, set out to modernize the fuel distribution network in the country and currently has 20 service stations in operation;
- In September 2015, Bolloré Africa Logistics, which since late 2010 has been holder of a 20-year concession for the container terminal at Freetown Port, signed an amendment to the concession contract planning an extension project (construction of a new, 270m long, deepwater platform) and the introduction of new equipment. Total investment is estimated at around €120 million. Upon completion, the terminal capacity will be 750,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), compared to the current 90,000.
- Matière, in a consortium with the Senegalese company CSE, has won a contract to upgrade the cross-border Bandajuma-MRU Bridge Road between Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- In 2017, Orange bought out Airtel, the country’s leading mobile network.
Our limited cooperation is mainly focused on the military field (teaching of French and courses in regionally oriented national schools supported by France). The aim is to support Sierra Leone’s armed forces in their efforts for regional integration within the Standby Force of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Updated: 3 July 2018