Idris Elba Refines His Movie Production and Smart City Strategies

“It’s the most ambitious project of my life.”

At The Africa Debate in London, that is how actor and philanthropist Idris Elba presented his plans for Sherbro Alliance, a proposal to turn the island of Sherbro in Sierra Leone into a smart city.

The program seeks to promote both regional development and appeal to a global audience by utilizing renewable energy, cutting-edge financial frameworks, and contemporary infrastructure.

It is intended for Sherbro Island to serve as a center for the growth of three different industries: tourism, agriculture, and energy.

Elba, whose parents are from Ghana and Sierra Leone, was born in London. “The idea of building a smart city is definitely young. And that’s the most exciting thing for me,” she stated.

“We imagine that within the next 10 years, we’ll have a population of somewhere around 250,000 people. It’s about 30,000 now.”

The UN and the government of Sierra Leone have worked together for the last six years to develop an investment opportunity that seeks to both meet the needs and ambitions of local populations and draw in outside investment.

“To be very clear, all of this has been done in complete conjunction with the people, the mayor, the chiefs, the chiefs of society, the chiefs of each district, and the people. They feed us into what they would like to see happening,” Elba insisted,

Concentrate On Renewables

The incorporation of renewable energy solutions is fundamental to the project’s ambition.

About 80% of the world’s population lived in sub-Saharan Africa in 2021, where 567 million people lacked access to electricity. In 2020, only 27% of Sierra Leoneans were without it.

“Africa definitely needs to embrace renewable energy space. We can do that. Technology is cheaper and allows Africans to adopt it where the West cannot,” Sure, we can accomplish that. Elba highlighted that Africa is in a unique position to surpass older, less effective energy systems.

Thus, plans for wind farms that would supply Sherbro Island’s residents with sustainable electricity are part of the island’s growth.

 Elba stated, “I’ve got Opticus Energy as an energy partner now (in Sherbro),”

“We should play a game that protects Africa’s future, by looking much more closely at the green economy. And the priorities are undoubtedly to invest in the infrastructure to get there, to invest in technology, to invest in education to understand the curve that’s coming. On Sherbro Island, much of this energy will require us to install the first wind farms.”

Artistic Fields

Elba promoted increased investment in Africa’s creative industries, which he feels can be a major economic engine, in addition to showcasing his work at Sherbro Island.

He asserted, “If we make the creative industries in those countries really popular, we can achieve more than $20bn,”

He made the argument that homegrown Nollywood productions account for the majority of Nigeria’s $5 billion annual creative sector.

He emphasized the necessity for laws that safeguard intellectual property and offer financial services to sustain the industry, saying, “The creative industry is like an army; everyone has a role to play. The entire infrastructure is investable,”

Elba aims to develop Africa’s creative sector, generating employment and improving the continent’s standing in the eyes of the outside world. He announced plans to construct a film studio in Ghana in 2023; the project is slated to be named West African Studios. He also pledged to support African artists by using his production company, Green Door Pictures.

He also intends to take advantage of his connections at Netflix, Apple, and Amazon, three significant Hollywood players.

“I am pivoting my productions over the next two years to my studios in Africa. And that will be a game-changer for me, but also for the creative landscape.”

Tax Breaks

Elba acknowledges the difficulties despite her optimism. He understands that in order to draw in and keep capital for the creative industries, uniform governance and regulatory frameworks are necessary.

In addition, he makes the case that tax breaks continue to be an essential instrument for African governments to draw in significant foreign investment.

“South Africa, Morocco, and Mauritius have built tax incentives. South Africa has done a fantastic job of international attraction for films. That is being done by a broadcast tax incentive. The Nigerian government is moving towards providing tax incentives, and if implemented correctly, it could attract international interest,” he said.

He does concede, though, that it is a difficult moment to request tax advantages, whether for the film sector or grandiose projects like Sherbro Island. This is because many countries are having financial difficulties.

“Governments that are struggling with their own economics find it very difficult to suddenly say, ‘Okay, we’ll give you 15-20% of your investment back.’ The concept Still, Elba insists that Sherbro Island is exactly the kind of long term investment that governments should lend their support to.

It’s about committing to a long-term project. The beneficiary of this investment might just be ten years old right now.

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