Sierra Leone is a country recovering from a decade long armed conflict and there are vivid evidences of this in the fabric of society and in the state of the country's infrastructures. Sierra Leone still finds itself almost at the bottom of the UN Human Development index. Moving "from post-conflict to development", the country continues to benefit from ongoing large scale international support to which the EU is by far the largest contributor.
Rehabilitation of Priority Infrastructure is one of the focal sectors under the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and the National Indicative Program (NIP) covering the years 2008-2013. The Infrastructure Section of the EU Delegation manages the EU project portfolio and pipeline interventions in the fields of roads and transportation, mining and energy, while at the same time following up the infrastructure related sector development in the country.
Roads and Transportation
The state of basic infrastructure remains a major obstacle to the development of the country. After a decade-long break in maintenance and rehabilitation, the road network is in a deplorable condition. Sierra Leone's road transport system consists of a network of about 11,200 km, of which some 8,200 km were functionally classified in the National Road System and the remaining make up the local networks and unclassified roads and tracks. The EU has either been funding or made commitments for providing the following support to the Sierra Leonean road sector:
- Rehabilitation and maintenance of selected road networks based on the prioritization made by the Government of Sierra Leone.
- Refurbishment of selected sections of the Trans West African Highway (Masiaka-Taiama-Bo Highway and Rogbere-Farmoreah section of the Freetown-Conakry Highway.
- Rehabilitation of 650 km rural roads in four districts.
- Technical Assistance is provided for institutional strengthening and capacity building of SLRA.
The ongoing project portfolio amounts to 90 M€, with 20-25 M€ in the pipeline.
Power supply in Sierra Leone is still restricted to the major towns, and even there, supply is erratic. Less than 10% of Sierra Leone's population has access to electricity. The exceptionally high electricity prices are due to inefficient and costly energy production with generators. The need to develop the energy sector in a main priority of the Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy. The EU has traditionally been involved in the power sector. A 2 M€ intervention for emergency rehabilitation of the transmission and distribution system in Freetown was finished in 2004. In the 9th EDF Sierra Leone was attributed one project under the EU Energy Facility I with a funding of 4,7 M€.
Freetown Development Plan
Freetown was planned like a colonial town. From 1944 to the 1969 three consecutive planning exercises took place. None of them was implemented.
The Freetown Improvement Act, Chapter 66, 1960 is the urban planning law currently in force in Sierra Leone. It has the forms and contents of a colonial ordinance which nowadays obstructs urban development. It is moreover limited to Freetown and the urban development issues country-wise are largely neglected.
In 2004 the Law on Decentralisation (Local Government Act) devolved many urban management functions to the Freetown City Council (FCC), including Urban Planning. The FCC could not immediately cope with such a difficult and complex matter given a lack of planning instruments and legal framework, lack of qualified personnel and the lack of resources for outsourcing these activities.
In this context, the Government approached the EU in 2007 to fund a comprehensive study setting out a Freetown Development Plan including all urban services, such as urban roads, markets, industrial areas, water and sewage, energy distribution, etc.