Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Sierra Leone

Key facts:

POPULATION: (2020 estimate): 7,757,212
AREA (UN 2006): 71,740 sq km
CAPITAL: Freetown
CURRENCY: leone (LE)
HEAD OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT: President Julius Maada Bio
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: constitutional republic
LANGUAGES: English (official); Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba (major)
NATIONAL ELECTIONS: last: March 2018, turnout: 84%; next: 2023
LOCAL ELECTIONS: last: March 2018, turnout: na; next: 2023
LOCAL GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE as a percentage of total government expenditure (2020): 1.5%


Sierra Leone is a constitutional parliamentary republic with three spheres of government: national government, local councils and chiefdom councils. There is no constitutional provision for local government and therefore the Local Government Act 2004 provides the main legal framework for local councils. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has responsibility for implementing decentralisation and local governance reforms. There are 19 local councils, made up of six city councils and one municipal council in the urban areas, and 15 district councils in the predominantly rural areas. Following the 2018 elections, 17.7% of elected representatives were women, down from 19.1% following the 2012 local elections. The next local elections are scheduled for March 2023. In 2015/16 local government expenditure was 1.9% of total government expenditure. The Local Government Act 2004 gives both local councils and chiefdom councils powers to raise revenue including via local taxes, property rates, licences, fees and charges, and to receive mining revenues, interest and dividends etc. Transfers from national government include recurrent and development components, and are of three broad types: administrative grants, grants for devolved functions and local government development grants. Under the Local Government Act 2004, 80 functions should be devolved to local councils in principle; to date, 56 of the 80 have been devolved in practice.

The Local Councils Association of Sierra Leone (LoCASL) was formed in July 2004.

The Local Government Act 2004 is currently under revision to reflect the 2010 national decentralisation policy. 

In February 2016, the Constitutional Review Commission published an abridged version of its First Draft Report containing proposals for an amendment of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No 6 of 1991. A new chapter on Local Government and Decentralization has been recommending highlighting the following amendments:
-Local council elections to be conducted every 5 years instead of 4
-Local council election to be non-political
-Presidential, parliamentary and local council elections to be held on a fixed calendar date

On March 13TH 2016, as a result of major cabinet reshuffling, Mr. Maya KaiKai replace as the new Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. 
Read the profile of the local government system in Sierra Leone.

CLGF activities in Sierra Leone

The Ebola crisis which devastated Sierra Leone between July 2014 and November 2015 resulted in CLGF not being able to take forward work planned as part of the wider DFID funded programme supporting local governance and local economic development.  . However, CLGF has recently supported the General Assembly of the Local Councils Association of Sierra Leone (LoCASL) held in February 2016 in the municipality of Makeni. CLGF is also working closely with the Decentralization Secretariat at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on policy matters.

CLGF will continue to work with its member in Sierra Leone as it takes forward the EC funded project “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development” focused on the role for local government and other local and national actors in localising and implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
CLGF was inviolved with local election monitoring in 2004 and 2008.

CLGF members in Sierra Leone

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Board members in West Africa

Board members

Hon Isaac A Odamtten
Hon Jules D Ndongo



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