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 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.
During his visit to West Africa, Mr Blair met our teams in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, who continue to work alongside their country counterparts to improve government effectiveness.
It was Mr Blair's first visit to the region since the Ebola crisis and he saw first-hand the progress that has been made and the challenges still to be overcome as these countries seek to recover from recent economic shocks.
Our teams are working on priority issues including: improving maternal health in Sierra Leone, creating jobs and diversifying the economy in Liberia, and building critical energy infrastructure to light homes in Guinea.
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.