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January 2020

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DSTI and UNDP team up to accelerate Sierra Leone’s national innovation strategy with artificial intelligence and evidence-based approaches

The Directorate of Science Technology and Innovations (DSTI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  to continue collaboration on applied artificial intelligence for governance, entrepreneurship, and social good.

The MoU signed in Freetown last week provides a framework of cooperation and collaboration for both institutions to contribute to the successful implementation of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy (NIDS), especially in areas of common interest. 

In October 2019, the UNDP Country Lab also known as the Accelerator Lab for Sierra Leone was launched to examine and explore emerging untapped resources to speedup national SDG performance. The UNDP Accelerator Labs are a network of 60 labs serving 78 countries with the collective aim of finding new evidence-based approaches to problem-solving with the use of artificial intelligence, testing, mapping, and experimentation

“DSTI and UNDP have been engaging since Day 1. However, this particular agreement focuses on how we can continue to make significant inroads in the implementation of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy,” said Dr. Moinina David Sengeh.

“When the government and partners collaborate, we can identify specific areas of application to accelerate Sierra Leone’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The leadership of both institutions and the technical staff are already working in this vein.”

Although the MOU makes the collaboration official, joint efforts by DSTI and UNDP were already underway as of last year that led to the delivery of a successful national UNDP Social Good Summit, and mapping of the local technology and entrepreneurship ecosystems.

“This MOU signing symbolizes UNDP’s commitment to the philosophy of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy and is a tangible evidence of our organization’s readiness to undertake the 10-year journey in partnership with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Dr. Samuel Doe, UNDP Resident Representative.

DSTI has an open-door policy for knowledge sharing to support the work of organizations in public and private sectors seeking to use technology for development. Since its inception, DSTI has built partnerships with local and international leaders on technology and innovation, including MIT, Statistics Sierra Leone, The Gates Foundation, eGovernance Academy, and UNICEF Sierra Leone.

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Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer to participate in BBC CrowdScience Debate

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, will participate in BBC’s CrowdScience debate on the theme: “Can digital technology transform West Africa?”. The debate will be held at the British Council Tower Hill Auditorium in Freetown on Friday 24 January at 5:00 PM. This is part of national activities planned by the Government of Sierra Leone as part of the International Day of Education 2020.

Joining Dr. David Moinina Sengeh in the debate on how artificial intelligence is changing West Africa is Dr. Chika Yinka- Banjo from the University of Lagos and Ms. Nyalleng Moorosi from Google Artificial Intelligence in Ghana. These experts will explore how robots, drones, and machine learning tackle issues in agriculture, education, health, and governance in the sub-region.

BBC CrowdScience is a radio show that takes questions about life, Earth, and the Universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge. This will be the first of such debates held in Sierra Leone. Entrance for this event is free with registration. 

Crowd science opens up pathways for pursuing unconventional research ideas, blurs the boundaries between institutional science and civil society, provides opportunities for volunteer engagement in science, and enriches science communication. Crowd science also raises questions concerning data-driven approaches to scientific discovery as well as the development of mechanisms for automated quality assurance and feedback.

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DSTI Policy Brief: A Spatial and Temporal Assessment of Cases Reported at Local Courts in Sierra Leone Between 2009 and 2018

This DSTI policy brief addresses biases that may result from variation in access to the local courts by geo-spatially mapping all local court locations to determine if they are optimally located and whether the distribution gave most people the chance to access them. We also collected information on the cost of accessing each of these courts from the record books, and the length of time to resolve cases in these courts (recall information from court clerks). Acknowledgement Note: This is research was funded by the International Growth Center (IGC) in collaboration with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation. Lead Researcher: Henry Musa Kpaka – DSTI Fellow.

Download the brief here

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