China’s Silent Storm in Sierra Leone

Flickr, UN Photo_Eskinder Debebe

There are many faces to China’s presence in Sierra Leone and its present role there. Chinese investments, ‘gifts’ and trading activities have gone some way to reshaping the stereotype of Beijing as solely an exploiter of Africa’s minerals resources.

On the contrary, in impoverished Sierra Leone the Red Dragon not only has re-emerged as a serious bilateral trade partner, but also continues to invest in several urgently needed areas of development. By exploring the Sino–Sierra Leonean relationship in the current acute developmental phase of a conflict-shattered country, this policy brief comes to the main conclusion that China’s activities are unquestionably of extreme importance and may promote overall economic growth in Sierra Leone. In the long term, however, Chinese aid and investments may not necessarily lead to significant employment generation and effective poverty reduction. The country’s institutions are still too weak to regulate the behaviour of private (hence not only Chinese) investors.