SAP reaffirm their commitment to the project & update stakeholders with another visit to the Island

Sherbro Island, 20 February 2023 – Co-Founders of SAP Siaka Stevens and Idris Elba, known as Paramount Chief Kong Mbakie on Sherbro, visit the Island to meet with the Mayor, local Chiefs, and other stakeholders. The purpose of the visit was to reaffirm his dedication and commitment to the project, as well as to update stakeholders on the lengthy but productive negotiations with the GoSL, following the signing of an Investment Framework Agreement (IFA) in December 2022. The parties reached an agreement on the IFA in Washington D.C. during the US-Africa Leader’s Summit, with U.S. Senator Gregory Meeks praising the project and GoSL’s commitment to innovation and development.

Upon arrival on Sherbro Island, Mr. Elba and his team received a rapturous welcome from the locals who turned out in large numbers. The Island’s residents expressed gratitude towards him and his team for the annual December provisions provided for all the people on the Island.

Mr. Elba stated that he did not want to go public with the news of the IFA signing during the Summit. Instead, he wished to revisit the Island and deliver the news in person. He expressed his gratitude to his Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, for his continued support for the project, as well as to Ministers Jacob Jusu Saffa, David Sengeh, and other members of the government negotiation team for their tireless work behind the scenes to bring the project to where it is today.

In a statement, Mr. Elba said: “Our commitment lies in supporting the growth of Sierra Leone by developing Sherbro Island, in partnership the government of Sierra Leone. This project will benefit all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of their tribal or political affiliations. As a Paramount Chief in Bonthe, I have a duty to the residents of Sherbro Island that I take very seriously. I want the world to see the potential and natural beauty of Sierra Leone.”

During the town hall meeting, Mr. Elba emphasised the importance of establishing a strong foundation for the project to have a lasting impact on future generations. He set out the next steps in the process, including, the need to market and promote the project internationally and to continue to organise the detailed feasibility studies that will be carried out by SAP and world-class consultants.

The team were also joined by the current British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Lisa Chesney MBE, the first time a current member of the UK Government and a representative of King Charles III had visited the island since independence.  Several of the buildings that still remain on the island were built by the British due to the establishment of a colony in Sierra Leone in 1787 as a home for repatriated slaves and free Africans. Sherbro Island, which was inhabited by the Sherbro people, was part of this colony. The British established trading posts on Sherbro Island in the early 19th century, and the island became an important centre for the trade in palm oil and other commodities. The British also established a naval base on Sherbro Island in the mid-19th century to combat the slave trade, which was still ongoing in the region.