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Addax Bioenergy bioethanol project in Makeni, Bombali District, Sierra Leone


Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone Ltd is a subsidiary of Addax & Oryx, a Swiss-based energy corporation. In 2010, the company acquired lease rights for 50 years (with the possibility of a 21-year extension) to over 15,000 ha of land in Bombali District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, for a bioethanol operation for export to European markets. The project entails rice fields, sugar cane plantation, a palm oil plantation, a refinery, and a bioethanol plant. Over half of the investment in the project was provided by development banks, including the Swedfund and the African Development Bank. Rain Forest Rescue condemned the project, writing to potential public financiers, calling the project a land grab, and promising protests if the project continued – which it did, under the approval of the President of Sierra Leone. In 2011 workers staged strikes protesting lack of drinking water, discrimination, and marginalization at the hands of the company. The Farmer Development Program (FDP), a program the company instigated to mitigate loss of livelihood, has not proven to be effective as it expires after 3 years and focuses on monoculture rice rather than traditional multi-culture food crops. A 2011 report by the Switzerland based Pain pour le Prochain uncovered a number of fiscal exemptions, social and environmental impacts and illegitimate agreements with local authorities that contradict the companys efforts to paint its project as socially and environmentally responsible.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Addax Bioenergy bioethanol project in Makeni, Bombali District, Sierra Leone
Country:Sierra Leone
State or province:Tonkolili and Bombali Districts, Northern Province
Location of conflict:Bombali Shebora, Makari Gbanti, Malal Mara Chiefdoms
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Ethanol
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project is due to begin exporting in 2014, and will supply Europe with 12% of demand for bioethanol in transportation. Initially, the company advertized the project would create 4,000 jobs, but in December 2012 only 1,444 people held employment. 10,000 ha are to be planted by 2014 out of the 57,000 the company controls. The company has constructed 285 km of road to service their facilities while other roads in the vicinity have deteriorated. The company will be using 26% of the rivers’ flow in the dry season. The project entails rice fields, sugar cane plantation, a palm oil plantation, a refinery, and a bioethanol plant. 20,000 ha have been developed for the Farmer Development Program which will be finished in 2014. 50 people were involuntarily resettled, and 13,617 directly impacted.

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Project area:57
Level of Investment for the conflictive project788,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:13617
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Addax & Oryx Group (AOG) from China
Addax Bioenergy from Switzerland
Relevant government actors:His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, launched the project, and Parliament member Martin Bangura
International and Finance InstitutionsSwedfund from Sweden
African Development Bank (AfDB)
Belgian Development Bank from Belgium
German Development Finance Institution (DEG) from Germany
South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) from South Africa
Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) from Netherlands
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Pain pour le Prochain (Bread for All),, Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SilNoRF),, ActionAid,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Proposal and development of alternatives:Action Aid:
-overhauling the FDP to enhance food security
- better wages/fair compensation/employing local people (especially the young) on long term contracts
-relinquish the bolilands
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project continues despite abuses with little space for addressing them
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Action for Large-scale Land Acquisition Transparency, 2013, 'Who is Benefitting?'

[click to view]

Oakland Institute, 2011, 'Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – Addax & ORYX Group Bioenergy investment in Sierra Leone'
[click to view]

Bread for All, 2011, 'Land Grabbing: the Dark Side of ‘sustainable' Investments'

[click to view]

ActionAid, 2013, 'Broken Promises'
[click to view]

[click to view]

, 'Austria is to finance land grabs in Sierra Leone'
[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

, 'Worrh Yeama people say no to Addax Bioenergy'
[click to view]

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Swedfund, 'Addax Bioenergy, Sierra Leone'

, 'MoU Agreement between Sierra Leone and Addax'
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Swedfund, 2013, 'Sierra Leone Climbing out of Poverty'
[click to view]

Other comments:From 'Who is Benefitting': 'The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the GoSL and Addax Bioenergy… has a stabilization clause that states that Addax Bioenergy shall be exempt from any law that comes into effect, or is amended, modified, repealed, withdrawn or replaced, which has a material adverse effect on Addax Bioenergy (or its contractors or shareholders).46 Further, Clause 7 in the MOU that ‘applies to any claim, dispute or difference of any kind between the parties arising out of or in connection with this Memorandum (a Dispute)', says that any dispute arising ‘shall be referred to and finally resolved by arbitration in London before three arbitrators under the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce from time to time in force'47 and not in Sierra Leone.'
Meta information
Contributor:Aliza Tuttle
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:126
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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