Sierra Leone - Infrastructure, power, and communications

The civil war has disrupted any improvements to the country's infrastructure for nearly a decade. The road system is in serious need of repair, as the lack of resources has led to neglect. The small railway system is used very infrequently because the mines it leads to have been closed. Air transport in Sierra Leone is focused on the International Airport at Lungi, which, prior to the war, served many airlines, such as KLM, British Airways, and the regional airlines.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Sierra Leone 4 253 13 0.0 0 0.5 N/A 0.14 2
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Nigeria 24 223 66 N/A 0 N/A 5.7 0.00 100
Cote d'Ivoire 17 164 70 0.0 6 N/A 3.6 0.25 20
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Electricity supply is very unreliable in Freetown. There are constant outages as the old generators break down. However, it is estimated that the nearly-completed Bumbuna hydroelectric power project will be capable of providing electricity to most of the country. Its completion is dependent on the end of the war.

Sierra Leone's ports have provided important access to trade. The Port of Freetown has been an important center of trade for many countries. The natural harbor at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River is one of the world's finest; it affords 21 square kilometers (8 square miles) of anchorage for large ships. Bonthe and Pepel are 2 additional ports used in the export of goods.

The telephone system in Sierra Leone is not an advanced or extensive system. In 1997, Sierra Leone had roughly 17,000 main telephone lines in use, and in 1999 there were 650 mobile telephones. The telephone system was enhanced by a satellite earth station which offered up to 70 channels. Despite the limited resources available, Sierra Leone has made considerable progress in expanding its links with neighboring countries through the Pan-African Telecommunications Network (PANAFTEL) since independence. External services are handled by Sierra Leone External Telecommunications Services (SLET).

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