Herbert Smith Freehills, together with the assistance of Standard Chartered and Prudential plc, has produced an Investor’s Guide to Sierra Leone. The Investor’s Guide was launched on 10 July 2015 at the United Nations International Ebola Recovery Conference in New York by the Minister of Trade for Sierra Leone. It represents an independent, private sector perspective on investing in Sierra Leone.
The Guide is split into three parts as follows: (I) investing in Sierra Leone, which takes a look at the policy and legislative framework within which investments are made; (II) an overview of key sectors, including energy, natural resources and agriculture; and (III) the post-Ebola investment climate.
Further information about the Guide and Herbert Smith Freehill’s long-standing involvement with Sierra Leone is found below. A copy of the Investor’s Guide can be downloaded here: http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/insights/guides/sierra-leone-an-investors-guide
Among other things, the Investor’s Guide sets out the international and regional legislative framework within which investments into the country are made.
- Entry and Establishment
The Investor’s Guide contains information on Sierra Leone’s levels of participation in international organisations, such as the World Trade Organisation, and consequent restrictions on entry under, for example, the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Sierra Leone’s broader membership of the West African Community, by way of its participation in a number of regional organisations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union (MRU), is also described. Through such membership, the Guide details a variety of international agreements that Sierra Leone has concluded with the European Union and the United States, which aim to reduce barriers to trade.
- Treatment of Foreign Investors – substantive protections under international and domestic law
The Investor’s Guide contains a section on the treatment of foreign investors in Sierra Leone. This includes detail on the favourable treatment afforded by its membership of the ECOWAS and MRU. The Guide lists the bilateral and multilateral investment treaties which Sierra Leone has concluded, including a BIT with the United Kingdom. These contain a number of substantive protections for investors. Protection against expropriation as set out in Sierra Leone’s domestic legislation is also covered in the Guide. It also explains the protections afforded by its membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
- International Dispute Resolution
The Investor’s Guide sets out the applicable international framework for dispute resolution. This includes Sierra Leone’s ratification of the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States (the ICSID Convention). Notably, Sierra Leone is not party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958. As explained in the Guide, the Government of Sierra Leone has set out to address this in its new Justice Sector Reform Strategy.
- International and Regional Human Rights
The Investor’s Guide also details the international and regional human rights treaties to which Sierra Leone is party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The outlook for foreign investors in Sierra Leone is positive. While challenges remain, Sierra Leone offers tremendous potential, with strong underlying growth and investment opportunities. The aim of the Guide is to provide a useful resource for investors looking to put capital to good use in West Africa.