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
NameAddax Bioenergy bioethanol project in Makeni, Bombali District, Sierra Leone
CountrySierra Leone
ProvinceTonkolili and Bombali Districts, Northern Province
SiteBombali 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific CommoditiesLand

Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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.

Project Area (in hectares)57
Level of Investment (in USD)788,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population13617
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesAddax & Oryx Group (AOG) from China
Addax Bioenergy from Switzerland
Relevant government actorsHis Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, launched the project, and Parliament member Martin Bangura
International and Financial InstitutionsSwedfund from Sweden
African Development Bank (AfDB)
Belgian Development Bank from Belgium
German Development Finance Institution (DEG) from Germany
South African Industrial Development Corporation from South Africa
Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) from Netherlands
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPain pour le Prochain (Bread for All),, Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SilNoRF),, ActionAid,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-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-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Development of AlternativesAction 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project continues despite abuses with little space for addressing them
Sources and Materials

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Oakland Institute, 2011, 'Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – Addax & ORYX Group Bioenergy investment in Sierra Leone'
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ActionAid, 2013, 'Broken Promises'
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Bread for All, 2011, 'Land Grabbing: the Dark Side of ‘sustainable' Investments'

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


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, 'Austria is to finance land grabs in Sierra Leone'
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, 'MoU Agreement between Sierra Leone and Addax'
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, 'Worrh Yeama people say no to Addax Bioenergy'
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Swedfund, 'Addax Bioenergy, Sierra Leone'

Media Links

Swedfund, 2013, 'Sierra Leone Climbing out of Poverty'
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Other CommentsFrom '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
ContributorAliza Tuttle
Last update08/04/2014