Sierra Leone’s economy hit hard by Ebola outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Sierra Leone economy hit hard by Ebola outbreak

Many economies in West Africa are suffering because of the Ebola outbreak. CCTV’s Nina deVries reports from Sierra Leone.

Lan Lan Jaffa makes cakes in her bakery in Chinatown, a neighborhood in Freetown, the country’s capital. She’s worked there for 11 years and owns two restaurants: the bakery and a small grocery store.

Two of her staff left because of the Ebola outbreak. The staff that stayed were instructed to take precautions, such as wearing face masks and gloves.

Jaffa says many Chinese people have left Sierra Leone. She’s worried she won’t be able to sell some of her Chinese products, adding that business in general is suffering.

Her restaurants, for one, had less customers, and her 17-room guesthouse only had two rooms occupied.

While Jaffa’s businesses managed to stay open had to close due to Ebola. Even big hotel chains like the Radisson are feeling the pinch. It opened last April and is the first international hotel brand in Freetown.

Many foreigners who it caters to have left because of Ebola, said general manager Nuno Neves. “We are running at a 10-15 percent occupancy, when we should be running at 50-60 percent, so that’s what we are losing,” explained Neves.

Still, he says he’s hopeful things will get better, and that the hotel is just continuing to take all necessary precautions like having customers wash their hands before entering.

Some local Sierra Leoneans were not so hopeful. Commercial bike drivers known as okadas said they were not getting as many customers because of Ebola.

Back in Chinatown, Jaffa continued to go about her day. Despite the slowing down of business and the Ebola hype, she said she was not going anywhere.