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Guinea vs. Sierra Leone

Economy

GuineaSierra Leone
Economy - overview

Guinea is a poor country of approximately 12.9 million people in 2016 that possesses the world's largest reserves of bauxite and largest untapped high-grade iron ore reserves, as well as gold and diamonds. In addition, Guinea has fertile soil, ample rainfall, and is the source of several West African rivers, including the Senegal, Niger, and Gambia. Guinea's hydro potential is enormous and the country could be a major exporter of electricity. The country also has tremendous agriculture potential. Gold, bauxite, and diamonds are Guinea’s main exports. International investors have shown interest in Guinea's unexplored mineral reserves, which have the potential to propel Guinea's future growth.

Following the death of long-term President Lansana CONTE in 2008 and the coup that followed, international donors, including the G-8, the IMF, and the World Bank, significantly curtailed their development programs in Guinea. However, the IMF approved a 3-year Extended Credit Facility arrangement in 2012, following the December 2010 presidential elections. In September 2012, Guinea achieved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries completion point status. Future access to international assistance and investment will depend on the government’s ability to be transparent, combat corruption, reform its banking system, improve its business environment, and build infrastructure. In April 2013, the government amended its mining code to reduce taxes and royalties. In 2014, Guinea complied with requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative by publishing its mining contracts. Guinea completed its program with the IMF in October 2016 even though some targeted reforms have been delayed. Currently Guinea is negotiating a new IMF program which will be based on Guinea’s new five-year economic plan, focusing on the development of higher value-added products, including from the agro-business sector and development of the rural economy.

Political instability, a reintroduction of the Ebola virus epidemic, low international commodity prices, and an enduring legacy of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of government transparency are factors that could impact Guinea’s future growth. Economic recovery will be a long process while the government adjusts to lower inflows of international donor aid following the surge of Ebola-related emergency support. Ebola stalled promising economic growth in the 2014-15 period and impeded several projects, such as offshore oil exploration and the Simandou iron ore project. The economy, however, grew by 6.6% in 2016 and 6.7% in 2017, mainly due to growth from bauxite mining and thermal energy generation as well as the resiliency of the agricultural sector. The 240-megawatt Kaleta Dam, inaugurated in September 2015, has expanded access to electricity for residents of Conakry. An combined with fears of Ebola virus, continue to undermine Guinea's economic viability.

Guinea’s iron ore industry took a hit in 2016 when investors in the Simandou iron ore project announced plans to divest from the project. In 2017, agriculture output and public investment boosted economic growth, while the mining sector continued to play a prominent role in economic performance.

Successive governments have failed to address the country's crumbling infrastructure. Guinea suffers from chronic electricity shortages; poor roads, rail lines and bridges; and a lack of access to clean water - all of which continue to plague economic development. The present government, led by President Alpha CONDE, is working to create an environment to attract foreign investment and hopes to have greater participation from western countries and firms in Guinea's economic development.

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.

In recent years, economic growth 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, together with the end of the Ebola epidemic, supported a resumption of economic growth.

Continued economic growth will depend on rising commodities prices and increased efforts to diversify the sources of 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. 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$27.97 billion (2017 est.)
$25.84 billion (2016 est.)
$23.39 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$11.55 billion (2017 est.)
$11.14 billion (2016 est.)
$10.48 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
8.2% (2017 est.)
10.5% (2016 est.)
3.8% (2015 est.)
3.7% (2017 est.)
6.3% (2016 est.)
-20.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$2,200 (2017 est.)
$2,000 (2016 est.)
$1,900 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$1,600 (2017 est.)
$1,500 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 19.8% (2017 est.)
industry: 32.1% (2017 est.)
services: 48.1% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 60.7% (2017 est.)
industry: 6.5% (2017 est.)
services: 32.9% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
47% (2006 est.)
70.2% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2007)
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 33.6% (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
8.9% (2017 est.)
8.2% (2016 est.)
18.2% (2017 est.)
10.9% (2016 est.)
Labor force
5.558 million (2017 est.)
132,000 (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 76%
industry: 24% (2006 est.)
agriculture: 61.1%
industry: 5.5%
services: 33.4% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate
2.7% (2017 est.)
2.8% (2016 est.)
15% (2017 est.)
17.2% (2016 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
39.4 (2007)
40.3 (1994)
34 (2011)
62.9 (1989)
Budget
revenues: 1.7 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 1.748 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 562 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 846.4 million (2017 est.)
Industries
bauxite, gold, diamonds, iron ore; light manufacturing, agricultural processing
diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, footwear)
Industrial production growth rate
11% (2017 est.)
15.5% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
rice, coffee, pineapples, mangoes, palm kernels, cocoa, cassava (manioc, tapioca), bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes; cattle, sheep, goats; timber
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
Exports
$3.514 billion (2017 est.)
$1.954 billion (2016 est.)
$808.4 million (2017 est.)
$670 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
bauxite, gold, diamonds, coffee, fish, agricultural products
iron ore, diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Exports - partners
China 35.8%, Ghana 20.1%, UAE 11.6%, India 4.3% (2017)
Cote dIvoire 37.7%, Belgium 20.5%, US 15.7%, China 10.2%, Netherlands 6.1% (2017)
Imports
$4.799 billion (2017 est.)
$4.43 billion (2016 est.)
$1.107 billion (2017 est.)
$972.8 million (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
petroleum products, metals, machinery, transport equipment, textiles, grain and other foodstuffs
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Imports - partners
Netherlands 17.2%, China 13.2%, India 11.8%, Belgium 10%, France 6.9%, UAE 4.5% (2017)
China 11.5%, US 9.2%, Belgium 8.8%, UAE 7.7%, India 7.4%, Turkey 5.2%, Senegal 5.1%, Netherlands 4.3% (2017)
Debt - external
$1.458 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.462 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.615 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.503 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Guinean francs (GNF) per US dollar -
9,230 (2017 est.)
9,085 (2016 est.)
9,085 (2015 est.)
7,485.5 (2014 est.)
7,014.1 (2013 est.)
leones (SLL) per US dollar -
7,396.3 (2017 est.)
6,289.9 (2016 est.)
6,289.9 (2015 est.)
5,080.8 (2014 est.)
4,524.2 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
37.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
41.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
63.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
54.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$331.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$383.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$478 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$497.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$705 million (2017 est.)
-$2.705 billion (2016 est.)
-$407 million (2017 est.)
-$88 million (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$10.25 billion (2017 est.)
$3.612 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$3.174 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.391 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.042 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.832 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$1.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$69.19 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$56.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$6.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares

NA

NA

Central bank discount rate
22.25% (31 December 2005)

NA

Commercial bank prime lending rate
22.2% (31 December 2017 est.)
22.2% (31 December 2016 est.)
17.92% (31 December 2017 est.)
18.04% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$1.762 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.931 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$572.6 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$527.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$1.84 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.61 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$387.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$381.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$1.84 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.61 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$387.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$381.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
16.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
15.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-0.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-7.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 1%
male: 1.5%
female: 0.6% (2012 est.)
total: 9.4%
male: 14.8%
female: 6.1% (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 80.8% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 6.6% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 9.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 18.5% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 21.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -36.9% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 97.9% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 12.1% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 18.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.4% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 26.8% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -55.3% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
5.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
-6.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
-5.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
10% of GDP (2017 est.)
7.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
-5.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook