I had written this on January 7, 2017 while I was in Freetown, Sierra Leone. I believe this was written shortly after reading “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David Landes for the second time.

The essay’s content is pretty much what the title states. It’s an economic essay on Sierra Leone, her manufactures, and how to propel her to a modern economy with a strong, domestic manufacturing base.

Looking back, I really don’t know what to think of this unfinished, and largely unresearched essay. I’m posting it here unedited for the sake of posterity, so that I may look back at it 10 years from now, just as I am now, shaking my head saying, “what the hell was I thinking”. (I suspect my future self is in turn going to judge 2020 Bella lol.)

Disclaimer: the essay below is unedited, and unfinished. Any present-day comments are done via footnotes.

Sierra Leone and Her Manufactures

Largely an economy based in agriculture (close to 77%), Sierra Leone lacks the manufacturing industries necessary for a vibrant export economy. Such a deficiency not only endangers self-sufficiency but also impedes economic advancement. Despite its cruciality, agriculture alone cannot sufficiently expand the nation’s economy. Add to this the fact that a fifth of the country is arable and it becomes clear that stubborn specialization will prove dangerous, notwithstanding the recuperation period necessary for the land and sea; intensive farming and uncontrolled farming practices will eventually degrade the land’s utility, further aggravating the somewhat small supply. We don’t mean to disparage agriculture but rather appreciate its value; it is precisely because it is in such limited supply that Sierra Leone must greedily preserve its natural heritage. Therefore, agricultural commodities should be maintained and grown primarily for domestic use (feeding civilians, armies and such) and serve as inputs for industrial supply chains. Unrefined agricultural goods, exempting those in ample and monopoly reserve, are not intended for export; to do otherwise would impel farmers to plunder their lands in pursuit of a stronger foreign tender, a potential phenomenon that would undermine our policies on foreign exchange.

It is of some embarrassment that Sierra Leone imports its own staple, rice; the bulk of which originates from our West African neighbor Nigeria.

Certain manufactures, paramount to our nation’s sustained early improvement, must be woven into the fabric of the nation; each economic sector complementing the next, inspiring a revitalizing and wholesome synergy.

Within the nation’s capital Freetown, street markets dominate the economy. Such employment exceeds its demand for them, resulting in congested and unsightly streets. It appears more a societal expectation to establish a shop than the logical next step after careful study and anticipation of healthy profits. Such crowded market serves to the detriment of the nation. Resources are largely squandered on duplication, having multiple structures and pertinent supply chains when one would suffice. Never equate such hectic and charged environments to a well-functioning economy; their dynamism is a euphemism for chaos. To solve the problems above (congestion, poor aesthetics, inefficiencies, overemployment, and misallocation of human/material resources) in one stroke, the surplus of market people may find better fortune and stable wages in manufacturing works. It then beggars what Sierra Leone’s manufactures are to be:

  • Rice [Exemption]
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry [Espionage]1
  • Clothing

Fluid credit (float government bonds) – government and the national bank – undermine and remove black market, strengthen foreign exchange

Fluid credit must exist if any nation wishes to find itself competitive. As of now, the credit within Sierra Leone is informal, relying on familial ties more so than banking and government institutions. While the government seeks foreign institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, its citizens experience more difficulty in establishing formal lines of credit leaving them prone to predatory lending: usurious rates, profligacy fueled by credit and unwise lending practices.

Sierra Leone’s debt is roughly a billion US dollars at the time of print. Such a debt seems easily serviceable if proper taxing and manufacturing institutions are put in place.2

Of equal importance is the strengthening of our foreign exchange. To power her various industries, Sierra Leone must purchase foreign machinery, the result of our inability to produce such capital; straining her foreign exchange reserves. The underground foreign exchanges continue to undermine the efforts of our government. In exchanging Leones for foreign currencies, black market foreign exchanges enrich themselves with currencies at the time more likely to appreciate than decline in value. Foreign currencies are more impactful in the hand of a concentrated government as opposed to many small independents. Strict enforcement is unlikely to vanquish these people. A better policy would be to make it easy (near advantageous) for “JCs” (the main targets)3 to convert currencies in respectable banks, giving them a securer alternative to the black market. The government, through its national bank, would withhold foreign currency and reserve it for industrial and commercial capital. How will Sierra Leone make the Leone a respected continental and international currency? One scheme is the following: make it disadvantageous to convert Leones back to foreign currencies3. When tourists return to their home countries

Labor transfer, remove street markets, labor to power manufactures – harness the moving force of the people to organize

Creating something revolutionary, first of its kind – government sponsored platform to find demand for Sierra Leonean goods – government subsidizes the shipping using some type of state distribution company.

  1. I don’t know what I meant by this. 

  2. Not sure if I still agree that this is ~easy~, but I definitely still think it’s doable for Sierra Leone to rid itself of debt. 

  3. Oof, this is some pretty shady thinking on my part, and I think this was a very poor choice of words.  2