Sierra Leone economy to grow by 4.3 percent in 2016-IMF

DAKAR, March 29 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone’s economy is expected to grow by 4.3 percent this year because of a pick-up in mining and other sectors following the end of the Ebola epidemic, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday.

The world’s worst recorded Ebola epidemic has battered Sierra Leone’s economy, which the IMF said contracted by 21 percent last year. Ebola has killed some 11,300 people in Sierra Leone and its neighbours Guinea and Liberia since late 2013.

“The improvement (in Sierra Leone) reflects the pick-up in economic activities following the end of Ebola and the resumption of iron ore mining early this year,” said John Wakeman-Linn, a senior IMF official.

He said in a statement that inflation was stable at 8.5 percent last year but expected a slight acceleration in 2016 because of a depreciation of Sierra Leone’s currency, the leone.

Wakeman-Linn said Sierra Leone’s economy remained exposed to shocks because of a slowdown in China, a major trading partner, and its heavy reliance on iron ore exports and on donors.

The recovery will also be fragile due to fears of a resurgence of Ebola, he added.

The World Health Organisation has said the virus no longer poses a global risk, but all of the countries at the centre of the outbreak have reported flare-ups after being declared to have had no active transmissions.

After an initial declaration in November, Sierra Leone was most recently declared free of the virus on March 17. That same day Guinea reported an Ebola flare-up three months after being declared to have no transmissions. (Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Gareth Jones)