Housing Finance in Sierra Leone


This profile is also available in French here.

To download a pdf version of the full 2020 Sierra Leone country profile, click here.

The Republic of Sierra Leone has a total population estimated at 7 650 154 in 2020. The capital city of Freetown has one of the highest population densities in the world with 8 450 people per km2, and a high proportion of informal settlements accounting for 35 percent of the city’s inhabitants. Sierra Leone has a fragile economy still recovering from a decade of civil war. The overall inflation rate was recorded at 15.47 percent in May 2020. While the unemployment rate remained at 4.3 percent in 2020, the job market remains fragile. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted economic activity, with economic growth rate projected to shrink by -3.1 percent in 2020 compared to the pre-COVID-19 projection of 4.1 percent growth.

Acute poverty associated with poor living conditions, overcrowding, and poor public policies in housing finance adversely affect the ability of poor people to earn
enough and afford decent housing. The major challenge is that construction companies and banks are reluctant to engage low income earners as they prefer to target high earners.

Although government programmes have opened a Housing Finance Scheme
through the HFC Bank, the housing built is high-end and out of the financial reach
of many. There is a housing gap of 464 051 houses. Land administration in Sierra Leone is complicated. There are two types of land tenure, colonial land or freehold land, and customary land or leasehold land. Foreigners cannot own land under either of these systems but can lease for up to 99 years. There is no land titling system to validate ownership, so lease rights are hard to secure. Furthermore, there is no orderly housing finance policy in Sierra Leone.

There is a crucial need for investment in housing in the form of upgrading or renovation of existing houses, construction of traditional and low-cost housing, and the building of conventional and luxury houses.

Find out more information on the housing finance sector of Sierra Leone, including key stakeholders, important policies and housing affordability:

Each year, CAHF publishes its Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook. The profile above is from the 2020 edition, which has up-to-date profiles for 55 African countries.

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