Sierra Leone Everyday life
Sierra Leone Everyday life
Currency: Sierra Leone Leone (Le)
Exchange rate: 12 322 Le per 1 € (03.12.2020)
Time zone: UTC
Country code (phone): +232
Climate (for capital): Tropical
Entry and residence regulations
German citizens need a valid visa to enter Sierra Leone, which can be applied for at the Sierra Leone embassy in Berlin. Further information is available on the website of the Federal Foreign Office. The passport must be valid for at least six months upon entry; proof of a yellow fever vaccination is also required.
Housing and supply
Crain Crain, a typical dish
The supply conditions and options differ from location to location. In Freetown and the district capitals, you can get European and Arab food in Lebanese supermarkets. However, the food imported from Europe is often two to four times more expensive than in Germany. The goods in the markets or in the small shops are limited in selection, but cheaper. Depending on the season, the markets offer a wide range of fruit and vegetables. In rural areas, the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables is even better and much cheaper. Ingredients for typical Sierra-Leonean dishes can be bought in the local markets.
You can buy fresh meat from butchers almost everywhere. The quality is usually better outside of the capital. Fresh fish are sold in very good quality on the coast. The barracuda and bonita are particularly popular. The snapper is also widely available and is also offered in many restaurants.
Sometimes the sending organizations provide adequate accommodation. However, you can also look for an apartment yourself or through an agent. It should be noted that a rental prepayment of 12-36 months is quite common. In the cities, larger concrete houses are offered, which are usually surrounded by a high wall. Usually the houses are guarded by security companies.
The mains voltage is 230 volts / 50 Hertz, the plugs that can be used are three-pole (plug types D and G). You should therefore get a socket adapter (UK standard). Power outages are common and last different lengths of time depending on the location. It is therefore advisable to operate a generator. Electricity is rarely available in rural regions. Although Sierra Leone, one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to usaers, is a water-rich country, the water supply in the country and also in the city is often problematic in terms of quality and quantity. The water is not of drinking water quality and should therefore always be boiled and possibly also filtered before using it. In Freetown you can buy purified water in large returnable bottles (approx. 20 liters) in some supermarkets.
Money and money transfer
The national currency is the leone, mainly banknotes are used. The highest value is 10,000 leons, converted between 1.50 and 2 euros. So large bundles are often traded and it is well worth practicing quick money counting. Nevertheless, the government regularly tries to curb the use of US dollars. Of the coins in circulation, mainly the 100 leons, colloquially referred to as “one block”, and the 500 leons.
Banks in Freetown such as Ecobank can easily change euros, pounds sterling or US dollars to Leones. Money can also be changed upon arrival at the airport. It is advisable to compare the exchange rates when in doubt. Besides banks, there are exchange offices everywhere. You can also change in the hotel or in the supermarket.
There are several ATMs in Freetown and in the larger cities. Visa cards are the most widely accepted. The highest withdrawal amount is the equivalent of approx. 45 euros, but several withdrawals can be made one after the other. Use of the card costs different fees depending on the bank (in Germany) and card. Money transfers are quick and reliable via Western Union, MoneyGram or online. The import of foreign currency is possible in unlimited amounts.
Money transfers such as international transfers are also possible directly to a Sierra-Leonean account. This is a cheap alternative to cash transfers, but it takes about a week for the money to be credited to the account. Money can be sent via mobile phone at many street stalls in the country.
Money changers on the street in Freetown
The use of landline telephones is relatively low. However, the use of mobile phones has risen sharply since 2002, and in 2019 there were 6.7 million mobile phone contracts, although around half of the population does not use mobile phones. In the capital and the big cities there are many internet cafes with different capacities. In doing so, they repeatedly have to struggle with inadequate power and grid supply. The possibilities for the population to obtain information on the Internet are still very limited. Through the Internet via smartphones, the changed slightly. Once the fiber optic cable, which has been off the coast since 2011, will be fully connected, the speed of the Internet will improve significantly. The cellular network is quite stable. When the reception is poor, it is sometimes easier to send a text message than to make a call.