- About six in 10 Sierra Leoneans (58%) say the economic and political influence of the U.S. in the country is “somewhat” or “very positive” (Figure 1). China trails the U.S. in terms of favourable perceptions (49%) but is ahead of the European Union (42%) and Japan (29%).
- Compared to 2020, the perceived positive influence of the U.S. has increased by 13 percentage points (from 45%), while China’s has increased by 8 percentage points (from 41%) (Figure 2).
- Fewer than half (44%) of citizens say China’s economic activities have “some” or “a lot” of influence on Sierra Leone’s economy, while 30% think they have “a little” or no influence (Figure 3).
- The proportion of Sierra Leoneans who say China’s economic activities have “some” or “a lot” of influence in the country has declined by 14 percentage points since 2015 (58%) (Figure 4).
- Few Sierra Leoneans “agree” or “strongly agree” that the government is justified in borrowing more money from the Chinese (36%), that the country should welcome Chinese construction projects even if Chinese managers are not respectful toward local workers (22%), and that construction projects are a priority despite negative environmental effects (32%) (Figure 5).
As the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit seeks to boost cooperation between the United States and Africa, new Afrobarometer survey findings show that Sierra Leoneans view the economic and political influence of the U.S. on their country more favourably than that of China.
Positive views of U.S. influence on Sierra Leone have also grown by a wider margin than favourable assessments of Chinese influence.
Perceptions of how much influence China’s economic activities have on Sierra Leone’s economy have declined sharply since 2015.
Survey results also show that only about one in three Sierra Leoneans say the government is justified in borrowing more money from the Chinese, and even fewer think the country should welcome Chinese construction projects if Chinese managers are not respectful toward local workers.
China has invested at least $4 billion in Sierra Leone, particularly in the extractive, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors. Critics have argued that China’s loans contribute to Sierra Leone’s high debt burden and are unsustainable, and that China is overly involved in Sierra Leone politics.