Sierra Leone is planning a $1.4bn seaport and free-trade zone on the island of Bonthe, about 150km south of Freetown.
The details of the plan were revealed to local website Politico Sierra Leone by John Tambi, the chairman of the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative. He said the port would be located near the village of Niti, and would be combined with a logistics centre and industrial parks.Â
According to Tambi, a pre-feasibility has already been conducted by the Strong Hold Finance Group, the project’s developer, looking at its design and finance.
He said the project had a "visionary approach" and was aimed at attracting international investors and boosting the country’s exports.
"When I started, we created about 21 projects, but then, for them to be bankable and attractive enough to the private sector, I had to arrange them into four clusters," he said. "The seaport is one of those. The developer completed its study in December. We are now moving to the contract agreement stage and I’m sure we can start the project this year."
He added that British actor Idris Elba had expressed an interest in developing some part of the island. Tambi said any project initiated by Elba, who has roots in the area, would complement the seaport scheme.
He added that the Sierra Leone government would retain a stake of at least 25% in the port and associated facilities.
The Presidential Infrastructure Initiative was launched by Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone, shortly after he took office in March 2018.
Image: A Nasa satellite image of Bonthe (or Sherbro) Island (CC BY-SA 2.5)