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Idris Elba 'dreams big' with Sierra Leone eco-city plan for Sherbro Island

World

2 months ago
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Hollywood actor Idris Elba has a "big dream" for Sierra Leone, the West African nation where his father was born - to regenerate a beautiful island off its coast and turn it into an eco-friendly "smart city".

"Originally we went there thinking how could we bring tourism to the most incredible 19 miles of beachfront," the British star told the BBC about Sherbro Island.

But as the idea was explored, a more innovative plan came into play - to bring in partners and seriously develop the area in a sustainable, eco way. The project now also intends to bring wind-powered renewable electricity for the first time to Sierra Leone.

"It's a dream, you know, but I work in the make-believe business," says Elba, best known for his roles in Luther, the Wire and for playing Nelson Mandela. The 51-year-old actor wants to make people believe this can happen - and change perspectives.

"It's about being self-reliant, it's about bringing an economy that feeds itself and has growth potential. I'm very keen to reframe the way Africa is viewed… as an aid model.

"This opportunity is completely different."

Elba was brought into the project by his childhood friend Siaka Stevens, the grandson of a former Sierra Leonean president of the same name.

The pair grew up together in east London, both have worked as DJs and their paths often cross in the entertainment world.

For the last decade, Stevens has been spending more time in Sierra Leone and had initially wanted to establish a boutique hotel there. However he told the BBC his background in luxury hospitality and entertainment made him quickly realise "Sierra Leone wasn't ready for that level of tourism".

This is what spurred thoughts of developing Sherbro Island and with encouragement from a friend who worked on the Saudi Red Sea enterprise, a tourism megaproject, he approached Elba.

source: BBC [Click here to read more]