Idris Elba’s Ambitious Sierra Leone Eco-City Plan Takes Shape on Sherbro Island

Idris Elba's Ambitious Sierra Leone Eco-City Plan Takes Shape
Idris Elba and his Sherbro partner Siaka Stevens (L) have signed a deal with Octopus Energy to build Sierra Leone's first wind farm

Idris Elba’s Ambitious Sierra Leone Eco-City Plan Takes Shape on Sherbro Island

Renowned Hollywood actor Idris Elba harbors a grand vision for Sierra Leone, his father’s birthplace—a vision that entails rejuvenating Sherbro Island, situated off the nation’s coastline, into an eco-friendly “smart city.”

Originally conceived as a means to bolster tourism along its stunning 19-mile beachfront, the project has since evolved into a more ambitious endeavor aimed at sustainable development and renewable energy integration. Elba, best known for his roles in “Luther,” “The Wire,” and for portraying Nelson Mandela, sees this project as an opportunity to challenge prevailing narratives about Africa, shifting away from an aid-dependent model towards self-reliance and economic growth.

The project’s genesis can be traced back to Elba’s childhood friend, Siaka Stevens. Stevens’s aspirations for a boutique hotel in Sierra Leone gave way to the realization that the country wasn’t yet ready for such tourism. Together, they envisioned Sherbro Island as a hub for economic activity and innovation, securing partnerships and governmental support.

The island, spanning approximately 600 square kilometers, presents a canvas for sustainable development, with plans to accommodate up to a million people while preserving its natural beauty. Financing for the project will come from a public-private partnership, with Sherbro Island designated as a special economic zone akin to Walt Disney World in Florida, offering tax incentives and regulatory autonomy.

Central to the project’s success is integrating renewable energy, with a wind and solar farm set to be constructed by Octopus Energy Generation. This endeavor aims to address Sierra Leone’s energy deficit, where only 28% of the population currently has access to electricity. The innovative energy solutions, including micro-grids and electric vehicle infrastructure, promise to revolutionize energy access on the island.

Sherbro Island City aspires to be more than just a physical development—it seeks to embody African cultural values, prioritize community engagement, and adapt to changing socio-economic and environmental conditions. With partnerships ranging from Lloyds and Foster & Partners to MIC-HUB and PRDW, the project encompasses diverse expertise to ensure its success.

While the project’s ultimate success remains uncertain, Elba’s commitment to realizing this ambitious dream is unwavering. For him, it’s about more than just turning a profit—it’s about leaving a lasting legacy and fulfilling a vision that transcends borders and generations. In the words of Elba himself, “I am qualified to dream big.”



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