The Government of Sierra Leone and Sherbro Alliance Partners – a development company owned by film actor Idris Elba and Sierra Leonean entrepreneur – Siaka Stevens, have on the 30th September 2019, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in New York, to establish a strategic public-private partnership aimed at developing Sherbro Island as a city and an economic powerhouse.
Sherbro Island is located on the southern coast of Sierra Leone, and has tremendous tourism and fishing potential. According to the announcement, when developed, Sherbro Island City will serve as an engine of economic growth for Sierra Leone and the surrounding West Africa region.
The statement says that “operating under an investment and legal regime designed to attract and protect long-term investment, Sherbro Island City will develop diversified services and manufacturing economy that create job opportunities for Sierra Leoneans and attract new capabilities to the region. The project will integrate efficient infrastructure with transparent and effective governance, supported by the intelligent application of smart technology.”
“Leveraging the natural beauty, Sherbro Island City’s economy is expected to be initially driven by tourism, with projects developed and constructed with respect for the island’s biodiversity. Early pilot projects for agricultural products and services and aquaculture farms are also under consideration,” says today’s announcement.
According to the statement released today, “the Government of Sierra Leone has entered into this partnership not only to accelerate economic development of the country, but also to give confidence to foreign investors that Sierra Leone is a premier investment destination.”
Commenting on the project, President Julius Maada Bio, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said: “We believe that Sherbro Island City will be an economic engine for our country and neighbours. It will also demonstrate our ability to partner in a large-scale project with transparency and integrity, and support us in rebranding our country.”
Idris Elba is a globally renowned film actor, producer, musician, and humanitarian who is said to have long intended to support the development aspirations of Sierra Leoneans, and help transform his father’s homeland of Sierra Leone.
“My commitment to Sherbro Island City is driven by a desire to make a difference, but to do so in a fashion which produces tangible benefits for West Africans that may be sustained over the long-term,” Mr. Elba said.
Mr. Stevens, who hails from a long established Sierra Leonean family, is co-founder of the Sherbro Island City project.
During the signing ceremony, the Government of Sierra Leone was represented by Mrs. Nabeela Farida Tunis – Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with Idris Elba and Siaka Stevens representing Sherbro Alliance Partners.
Early this year, president Bio met with Idris Elba and his business associates in London where they discussed the possibility of establishing a public-private development partnership that could lever the massive investment capital needed to transform Bonthe Island into an economic powerhouse.
It is estimated that the partners would need to raise over $10 million to realise this massively ambitious project.