The governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) has been effectively sacked, two months after the finance minister was dismissed. Both occur against the backdrop of a currency redenomination programme overtaken by external volatilities.

While Sierra Leone's macroeconomic challenges continue to shape the operating environment, policy and appointments are being determined by the political calendar chiefly. The Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP)'s President Maada Bio will run for a second term in June and recent dismissals should be understood in the context of those preparations.

There may be more cabinet level dismissals/reshuffles after June depending on whether: (a) power shifts to the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), or (b) the SLPP wins but home-regions of specific cabinet ministers underwhelm.

Significance – Currency

On 13 March, President Bio sent BSL governor Kelfala Kallon on 'indefinite leave' and appointed his deputy Ibrahim Stevens as interim head. By this, the president tried to bypass the law protecting the bank from political interference.1 A two-thirds majority in parliament is legally required to sack the governor.

Kallon had been struggling to steady a currency redenomination programme that he began in July 2022 following cash shortages.

  • Three zeros were lobbed off the leone and the bank began rationing new banknotes under cash withdrawal restrictions.
  • But this soon caused another shortage because businesses heavily depend on cash in the absence of a payment switch (background here).

Unable to print enough new notes, this month the bank announced a second postponement of the deadline to phase out the old currency – pushing it from March to December. Kallon was removed three days later.

Outlook - Elections

Bio is preparing for general elections in June under challenging circumstances. Inflation was 38% in January when he sacked his finance minister. The leone has also depreciated by more than 90% in the year, chiefly due to higher food and fuel import costs relating to the Ukraine war. In the absence of effective home-grown policy levers and in the run up to elections, the stability of central bank management is especially in question – this remains the case pending the conclusion of the elections and the appointment of a new cabinet and substantive central bank governor between June and September 2023.


1. Bank of Sierra Leone Act 2019

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