During a two-day visit to Sierra Leone, internationally acclaimed musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof said that the country will be able to put itself on the world map by utilizing its two strengths: Agriculture and Fisheries.
“Sierra Leone is right at the peak moment for what the world needs,” Mr. Geldof said. “The world needs oil, but it soon won’t need oil because we’re moving away from an oil-based economy. But it will absolutely need food, and the food it requires more than anything else is rice.”
“This country is sitting on tons of this stuff!” he continued. “You have the skills; you have the greatest farmers in the world. You’ve got some of the greatest fishing in the world and you’ve got a Port here where the world will come and wait for your fish.”
Mr. Geldof, well-known in Africa for initiating the Band Aid project, a charity for the victims of famine in the continent, almost didn’t make the trip to Sierra Leone but admitted that a free plane ticket from a close friend – one who wanted Mr. Geldof and, consequently, possible investors to realize firsthand the plentiful natural resources in the country – persuaded him.
“I’m very glad I came,” Mr. Geldof said. “Now it’s on my radar.”
Impressed during his short visit to Sierra Leone, Mr. Geldof called Africa “the cockpit of politics in the 21st century.” He also made a rather bold prediction regarding the future of Africa claiming, “Without any question, Africa will be a giant economic power by 2040, because it can’t be anything other.”
Much of his press conference involved praising messages and optimistic predictions, but Mr. Geldof was quick to remind everyone that while he could get the positive message out to the many leaders and investors he knows, people must temper their expectations when it comes to how much and how soon he alone could improve Sierra Leone’s market.
“I’ve met a lot of important people today and filled my day here,” he said. “I will sit down with a bunch of people and tell people about the opportunities here; I will keep in contact with the government; and we’ll try and put together a possibility in investing in agriculture. And I think that’s the best thing I can do.”
“But does that mean that suddenly you’re all going to get rich? No, it doesn’t,” he continued. “So I want to make sure that the level of expectation is realistic: I’m a guy in a rock-and-roll band.”
That said, Mr. Geldof concluded by saying that Africa “has everything that the world wants,” and that “you can dictate the terms of how you progress.” By Yu Nakayama