Tony Blair Visits West Africa

Tony Blair Visits West Africa

Tony Blair Visits West Africa


3 min read

Liberia on the road to Ebola recovery: Making and selling cosmetics made from palm kernels. 

Posted on: 9th September 2016

Tony Blair has travelled to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea this week, in his first visit to the region since the Ebola crisis. He saw the progress that has been made and the challenges still to be overcome as these countries seek to recover from recent economic shocks.

In Sierra Leone, where his foundation is working on priority issues including improving maternal health and access to electricity, Mr. Blair met with President Koroma to discuss his recovery priorities. He also visited the port in Freetown, which is 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. There he saw the $120 million investment in a new berth, which will increase capacity from 90,000 containers to 750,000 and allow larger vessels to set down goods for transfer to other landlocked economies in West Africa such as Mali. 

Speaking to reporters, he said:

“Our contribution is really working with the government delivering its priorities, whether it’s in roads or power generation or health care. For many years we’ve been discussing the importance of the port and the importance of getting a really first-class port for the country, because that makes the economy move. So what it very exciting is to see today that things are really happening here and the investment that’s being made.”

While in Liberia, Mr. Blair met with President Johnson Sirleaf to discuss the government’s plan for post-Ebola recovery and to become a middle income country and visited the Mount Coffee Hydropower plant, which the AGI has been working to deliver with the government.

The plant will provide electricity to four times more people in Monrovia and increase power generation in the country by 130%. 

Mr. Blair also visited the country’s first palm kernel oil processing factory, J-Palm, which uses otherwise wasted palm kernels to produce palm oil products. It does so by providing equipment to small holder farmers which helps them increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods. Its founder, Mahmud Johnson, was one of the four young entrepreneurs recognised by the AGI, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the World Food Prize Foundation and awarded a 40 Chances Fellowship in 2014.

Mr Blair finds out how cosmetics are being made from waste products at J-Palm Liberia. 

In Guinea, he met President Alpha Condé, where they discussed how to continue to develop the energy sector – one the President’s key priorities. The AGI has helped the government to deliver the Kaleta Dam hydroelectric project that will double electricity access in Guinea and is already helping supply Conakry and 10 nearby cities with a 24/7 power supply. Having supporting the government with the Ebola response, the AGI is continuing to work with the government to increase access to electricity and deliver large scale infrastructure projects.


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.

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