Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2019:
On Tuesday, 11 June 2019, the twinned-sister cities of Freetown and Hull City UK, took their partnership to another level with the visit of Hull City Mayor – Steven Wilson to Sierra Leone, where he met both the Mayor of Freetown and president Julius Maada Bio.
Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyer, presented the Mayor of Hull and his team to President Bio at his State Lodge residence in Hill Station, Freetown.
The Hull City Mayor is in Sierra Leone to celebrate forty years of twinning relationship between Freetown and the City of Hull, which began in 1979. But how much economic benefit has Sierra Leone gained from this specal relationship?
Freetown’s Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer said she is pleased to be working on strengthening the relationship between the two cities. But more can and should be done to develop an economic partnership between the two cities.
Mayor Steven Wilson of Hull City said that Freetown is very much in the thoughts of the people of Hull. He said he is delighted with the opportunity to witness first hand, the ongoing ‘Transform Freetown Initiative’, and will report on progress to the Hull City Council.
President Bio said he is delighted to receive the visiting team in Sierra Leone, and spoke of the unique twinning relationship between Hull City and Freetown, but not much was said about developing economic ties, especially in boosting Sierra Leone’s tourism sector.
“After years of relationship, we want to see how we can strengthen and deepen the relationship for the benefit of our two cities,” said president Bio.
Hull City has a special place in the history of Sierra Leone. It is the birthplace of anti-slavery campaigner – William Wilberforce. The house in which Wilberforce was born is a museum dedicated to anti-slavery.
William Wilberforce led the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Parliament, whilst the Abolition Society that he led collected evidence and organised petitions.
One of the most important roads that cuts across the city of Hull is named FREETOWN HIGHWAY.
Hull is a major hub in the UK Humberside region’s economy, especially with the emergence of its fast growing wind energy turbine manufacturing industry, which could be a great opportunity for Sierra Leone’s struggling energy sector.
Hull – the capital of the Humber region is fast becoming the UK’s leader in renewable energy.
Green Port Hull has put the region on the world stage for green energy innovation and offshore wind growth.
The city’s £3 billion of public and private sector investment includes the £310 million Siemens Gamesa world-class wind turbine blade manufacturing facility, which contributes £73 million GVA to the local economy, creating more than a thousand jobs.
Hull has also seen supply chain investment from 3Sun Group, TRG Wind, GEV Offshore, Eltronic Wind Solutions, Scanel International, ALE and A2Sea.
Renewables firm Orsted is investing £6 billion in offshore wind operations on the east coast, with contracts awarded to Siemens Gamesa for the supply of turbines for two huge offshore wind farms.
A green light for change
Hull hosts the UK’s largest energy-from-waste plant. Spencer Group’s £200 million facility, producing enough electricity to power 43,000 homes and recycle 250,000 tonnes of waste per year.
A £2 million Centre of Excellence for the offshore wind industry is the result of a five-year partnership between the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the University of Hull.
Major opportunities also exist in biofuels, waste to energy, solar, wave and tidal power generation.
It means the Humberside region’s renewables sector will become the biggest influence on the local economy for generations, creating thousands of jobs and business opportunities. (Photo: Wind turbines made in Hull are shipped out to customers).
There is enough wind blowing across Freetown from the Atlantic Ocean to sustain a wind energy farm, that could generate electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes, all year round.
Sierra Leone Telegraph asks: Can the government of Sierra Leone use its special relationship with the City of Hull to acquire investment in developing Sierra Leone’s wind energy sector?
Yes they can, but the political will and drive must come from State House in Freetown.