British film star Idris Elba has teamed up with UK power group Octopus Energy to develop Sierra Leone’s first wind farm.

Octopus said it has entered a “milestone partnership” for the project with Sherbro Alliance Partners (SAP), an infrastructure development firm co-founded by Elba.

The partnership was announced today (Thursday) at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

The initial plan is to build up to five wind turbines along with solar panels and battery storage on Sherbro Island in Sierra Leone to accelerate the roll-out of renewable energy in the West African country.

The power project will support Sherbro Island City, a special economic zone being developed by SAP as part of what Octopus described as a vision to “replicate the transformative economic shifts seen in places like Singapore and Dubai.”

Elba said: “We look at the pristine beaches of Sherbro Island, with the goal of creating a culturally diverse international city that blends African tradition, dynamism, and pride with state-of-the-art infrastructure and services, where development sits in harmony with sustainability.”

“We’re pleased to partner with Octopus Energy who share a profound commitment to sustainability and energy which will be a backbone to development on Sherbro.”

Elba, whose father was from Sierra Leone and is a "brand ambassador" for the country, co-founded SAP with Siaka Stevens – the grandson of a former president of the resource-rich nation and a long-time family friend of the British film star.

SAP signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Sierra Leone in 2019 to kick-start development of the project, but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and remains in its "embryonic" stages.

Stevens said Sherbro Island City is being “founded on sustainable principles, and will be fuelled by clean energy sources.”

“Over the last few years, our mission has been to transform Sherbro and ignite a new way of building African cities, Africa needs new cities."

Octopus said that work on the project – its first move into green power in Africa – will take place next year.

The project will not only generate clean energy but also create green job opportunities and training for local people, said Octopus.

Just 28% of people in Sierra Leone are estimated to have access to electricity, said Octopus. With the country aiming to generate 85% of its electricity through renewables by 2030, Octopus said there is “massive potential to rapidly scale clean, cheap energy to more people.”

Octopus Energy Generation CEO Zoisa North-Bond said this is a “momentous day for Octopus as we kick off our first renewables project in Africa.”

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Idris, Siaka and their team who are real visionaries creating a vibrant and sustainable future in Sherbro Island”.