Tony Blair visited the port in Freetown, Sierra Leone today to highlight the country’s continued efforts to recover from the impact of Ebola and the global fall in commodity prices, that has hit the West African economy hard in the last couple of years.
Freetown port sits on one of the world’s deepest natural harbours and lies almost equidistant between Brazil and major northern European ports such as Rotterdam and Hamburg. Despite these significant advantages the port’s potential has not yet been fully realised. If the Sierra Leonean economy is to return to strong growth a thriving port will be a sign of success.
Mr Blair and Capt. Momodu Allieu Pat-Sowe, the Sierra Leonean Minister of Trade
Mr Blair heard from Port Authorities about plans to introduce a single-electronic window for importers and exporters. This would cut the amount of time it takes to move goods into and out of the country – cutting waste and potential corruption in the process.
Mr Blair also saw the early work done to build a new berth at the port which will allow larger vessels to stop at Sierra Leone and set down goods for transfer to other landlocked economies in West Africa such as Mali. Once the $120 million investment bears fruit the capacity of the port should increase from 90,000 containers to 750,000. This eight fold increase would go a long way to shoring up the Sierra Leonean economy.
The single window at the port is just one of many initiatives being pursued as part of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s recovery priorities. You can read more about these priorities here.
[Photo credit: Olivia Acland]