London, UK, Thursday 6 June 2019 – English actor, producer, director and musician, Idris Elba OBE, has told President Julius Maada Bio about his plans to transform Sherbro Island into a world-class city as a way to give back to Sierra Leone.
The celebrity, 47, born Idrissa Akuna Elba and raised in London to a Sierra Leonean father and Ghanaian mother, met with the President on the margins of the UK-Sierra Leone Trade and Investment Conference, and said he wanted to explore the great touristic potentials of Sherbro Island, in the Atlantic Ocean within Bonthe District of southern Sierra Leone. It was once a thriving trading post with 105 kilometres of tropical beaches.
“I want to come to Sierra Leone for the first time under your fantastic leadership,” he said and also stated that he would like to see people travelling to the Island for culture, tourism and entertainment. He added: “The Sherbro Island will be a city for everyone”. Also explaining the proposed project, members of his delegation said that the transformation of the Island would make it a West African economic hub focusing on tourist destination, entertainment, convention centre, aquaculture with innovative affordable housing.
The project will create a powerful economic growth engine, deepen human capital development through education and training, diversify income sources for government and citizens, transform the country’s international image and improve infrastructure and transportation links.
Through the project, the actor, popular for his lead role in the award-winning 2013 British-South African biographical film – ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ – also assured that they would use their international reputation to contribute to the rebranding of the small resource-rich West African nation. He also spoke about his long-term aspiration to invest in education and training to create a workforce for the film industry in a country whose entertainment industry is gradually picking up.
President Bio thanked Idris Elba OBE for the thought of investing in Sierra Leone and told his team that such a project had always been his aspiration, including to transform the Island into a great tourist destination. He said because of the level of neglect of the Island over the years, he had made it a duty to always spend the Christmas on the Island.
“Every time I went on holiday I would tell the people that help to transform the Island was on the way. So, today I am happy that the help is here,” President Bio said.
He also assured that as a Government the project would receive the fullest support because it would give hope to many Sierra Leoneans, adding that: “I want to make every Sierra Leonean be proud to return to Sierra Leone”. Immediately after the meeting, President Bio instructed that preparatory work and all necessary documentation should commence. He also advised the team to visit the Sherbro Island and engage with the community about the project.
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