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August 2021

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DSTI’s Ecosystems mapping exercise provides a roadmap for recommendations towards further strengthening and development of Sierra Leone’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

After the Global Entrepreneurship Index was released in 2019, Sierra Leone ranked 131 out of 137 Countries, scoring an average of 12% on product innovation, startup skills, technology absorption, human capital development, and other entrepreneurship-related indicators.

The ecosystems unit at the Directorate Science, Technology, and Innovation was determined to reverse the downward spiral and map out a national ecosystem focusing on digital entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone. This DSTI led effort attracted several development partners who made financial and moral commitments, most notably, the United Nations Capital Development Fund and United Nations Development Fund. The latter committed almost 100% of the funds to get the initiative off the ground, and the former pledged to provide logistical support through an accelerator lab. 

Unfortunately, before the initiative could formally take off, the COVID pandemic struck, and this, for obvious reasons, delayed the inception of the project. Nevertheless, the project started at the end of 2020 after receiving funds from both UN agencies and the green light from DSTI leadership to proceed.

The project commenced with discussions amongst a varied group of stakeholders to streamline the dialogue that describes experiences, constraints and opportunities in the current Sierra Leonean technology and entrepreneurial space. The Stakeholders included community leaders, local entrepreneurs and industry professionals from key sectors such as agriculture, health, and education.

The stakeholder consultations provided opportunities for learning and developing appropriate and viable approach(es) to guaranteeing that the needs of stakeholders are met by providing a conducive space to share real-life experiences and test project assumptions about the tech and entrepreneurship space in Sierra Leone. 

A significant task of this project was to conduct an inclusive stakeholder consultation. The national stakeholder consultation was held from December 16 – 21, 2020, in Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Port Loko and Freetown, and the diaspora consultation was held from February 15 -17 (North America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Australia).  

The talks were held to get a definitive overview of the operations currently being undertaken in the technology and entrepreneurship landscape.

This serves to furnish government and development partners with insight into existing and emerging issues within the ecosystem, as well as understanding relationships, dependencies, and critical considerations in the mapping process. The information gathered from the consultations framed the research strategy for the mapping process, particularly research targets, areas of focus, and promoting the digitalisation of sectors to leverage growth and provide inclusive platforms for human capital development.

 The stakeholder consultations were instrumental in raising the issues perceived to be vital in understanding the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The composition of stakeholders was wide and varied, and thus their collective voices offered an array of fresh perspectives. Their recommendations were adopted to form part of the ecosystems mapping project as the public’s viewpoints on tech and entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone. 

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After engagements of entrepreneurial stakeholders both home and abroad, the team embarked on a nationwide research. The purpose of the research was to investigate and produce data to support the following objectives;

  •  Identify gaps in the policy and regulatory frameworks of the technology ecosystem 
  • Provide a basis for policy action to address these gaps and support growth and sustainability of the ecosystem:
  •  Obtain data that informs policies and development interventions for micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sierra Leone. 

   The graph shows the percentage of submission success rate from the fieldwork. 

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The project concluded with a soft launch led by the DSTI Ecosystem Manager to exhibit the digital tool, including a report presentation that will educate entrepreneurs and investors about the ecosystem and how to use it. The ecosystem team discussed what the project means for the future of doing business in Sierra Leone.

The participants included partners from UNCDF, SLEDP, SMEDA, and INVEST SALONE, along with Fix Solution, the company working with DSTI to develop the web application. 

The keynote speaker Dr. Francis Kaikai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, in his address emphasised that “the output from the research including the business digest and the associated data analytics will certainly be of immense benefit to business development, academia [education], and other intellectual communities”. 

The tool and the report are scheduled for an official launch by the end of September 2021.  This launch promises many possibilities for growth, development and advancement for Sierra Leone’s tech and ecosystem Space.

.“The purpose is to curate a refined tool enabling investors and policymakers to develop a fresh perspective and guided sense of Sierra Leone’s potential for economic growth.” – Mahmoud Javombo, Ecosystems Manager, DSTI.

Blog

Progress toward “Digitization for All” in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone joined Giga to expand school connectivity efforts and explore how innovation can play a role in empowering entire communities. Giga is already working with the Government to identify activities to support the cost-effective connection of approximately 11,000 schools, which will equip further 3 million people in their local communities with the tools and skills they need to empower their nation.  

The potential benefits are exponential. A new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Ericsson in support of Giga, finds that if school connectivity levels in Sierra Leone reached those of Rwanda, that could boost GDP per capita by 8% by 2025. If connectivity reached Finland’s levels, the increase could be as much as 14.2%. 

The Government has been championing the importance of education toward achieving its goal of Human Capital Development. Connectivity can contribute to Sierra Leone’s national progress and help citizens to participate fully in the global digital economy. Their efforts have been lauded on a global stage and progress is in full swing on the ground.  

Progress in Sierra Leone and beyond

Sierra Leone has mapped all school locations in Project Connect and is implementing tools to monitor the connectivity status of schools in real-time. Giga has worked with Measurement Labs to develop a browser extension that can be installed in schools to measure speed in real-time. The resulting data can help guide government decision-making and selection of the most cost-efficient connectivity and renewable technologies. It also improves transparency by linking network management to payment processes – ensuring that providers only get paid for the service they provide.

The browser extension has been launched and implemented in 7 schools in Sierra Leone – Leone Preparatory School (Brookfields Town); Kingdom Heritage Model Schools (Sumaila Town); Tower Hill Kindergarten and Primary School (Tower Hill); Annie Walsh Memorial School (Magazine Town); Ahmadiyya Muslim J.S.S. (Kissy Town); Conforti Primary School (Calaba Town); and Royal International Academy (Kissy Town) – and will be deployed in 52 more schools. This pilot will expand to at least 80% of connected schools in other countries, including Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Kenya. 

At the First Giga Ministerial Roundtable in Africa which brought together country leaders and partners championing Giga activities in Africa, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in Sierra Leone, Dr. David Sengeh, highlighted progress in Sierra Leone and intervened with a focus on innovative financing for connectivity. Giga also organized a panel on “Innovation as a Means to Universal Connectivity” at the Stockholm Internet Forum held on 11 May, bringing together speakers from GSMA, ITU, Ericsson, UNICEF, and the Government of Sierra Leone to discuss the need to resolve information gaps on connectivity and explore innovative solutions to improve the quality of service and ensure universal and meaningful access. 

Sierra Leone National Giga Steering Committee

Sierra Leone has now inaugurated a National Giga Steering Committee to provide high-level strategic guidance and direction on the design, development, and implementation of Giga project activities in the country. Dr. Sengeh took the opportunity during the Government of Sierra Leone’s cabinet meeting on the 16th of June to present Giga to H.E. President Maada Bio, the Vice President, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh and other Ministers; and, after being elected Chair of the National Giga Steering Committee, Dr. Sengeh noted how the presence of “his fellow ministers here today surely underline the commitment of Sierra Leone’s Government and President Bio to the opportunity for generational change that we believe Project Giga brings.” 

 “The objectives of Giga – to boost Human Capital Development in Sierra Leone by connecting schools to the Internet, and our young people to information, opportunity, and choice – are particularly aligned to the Government of Sierra Leone’s development plans and our digitization strategies.”  

Minister Dr. David Sengeh, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, and CIO, DSTI

The National Giga Steering Committee is made up of:

  • Chair: Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education/ Chief Innovation Officer 
  • Co-Chair: Director of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) 
  • Alternate Chair/ Co-Chair: Minister of Finance 
  • Attorney General & Minister of Justice 
  • Minister of Information and Communication  
  • Minister of Energy 
  • Minister of Technical and Higher Education 
  • Minister of Local Government 
  • Minister of Planning and Economic Development 
  • Country Representative, UNICEF Sierra Leone 
  • Managing Director/CEO of SALCAB 
  • Director General of NATCOM 
  • Director of Administration – Education For All 

The first actions of the Steering Committee were to approve the Draft Workplan for Giga in Sierra Leone, outlining the path forward for Giga. The Committee members also approved the Terms of Reference and membership of a Technical Working Group, which will have a mandate to: 

  • Provide technical advice and operational support on the implementation of Giga in Sierra Leone in line with the Workplan approved by the Steering Committee 
  • Monitor the implementation of the project activities and highlight potential challenges and propose solutions to address these 
  • Review data, advice on policy and implementation guidelines and provide recommendations for best approaches for implementation 
Blog

The Junior Product Manager and Lyrical Mastermind that is taking Sierra Leone’s music industry by storm

Amidst the thrills and joys of everyday life in the workplace, there is an obscure struggle confronting most professionals. A struggle that has crushed dreams and aborted many possibilities. The struggle is striking an ideal balance between work-life and pursuing one’s passions. 

However, some have narrowly triumphed in this struggle. We will soon discover that it takes an inordinate amount of discipline, resolve and sheer willpower to lead the life you desire.  

In this edition of INNOVATOR’S MIND, we are taking an exclusive and spellbinding trip into the life, work and music of DSTI’s Junior Product Manager, emerging hip hop artist, and sensational lyricist Hindolo Magbity otherwise known as ‘N.Doe’. 

Performance on Independence Day at Bintumani Conference Centre

We interviewed the “Nor Blame Dem” crooner on the evolution of his artistry and personal life. His answers revealed startling truths on how he has worked to maintain the balance between work and play.

  1. When did you start rapping? 

I started writing raps at age 14 but started rapping at the age of 16. 

  1. Who or What inspired you to start rapping? 

Ice Cube and Lil Wayne inspired me to start rapping, but I have always loved music as I used to help out my elder sister with her lyrics. During my final year of high school, I joined a crew called GHM (Grand Hustle Movement), inspired by the TIGHL crew in America. We performed some of our songs at a school event, and everybody loved our music. It was at that point that, I decided that I would make music.

  1. Describe your artistry and music?

I make ‘relatable music’, which is why I uniquely blend English and Krio in my songs. The aim is to reflect diverse scenes of life. I want my music to touch and connect with people in any given mood or state of mind. So if you wish to turn up or you are feeling down, N.Doe is your guy. My catalogue consists of party music, uplifting music, conscious/motivational tunes.

  1. Do you have an agent or manager? 

No, I Am fully independent right now, which gets a little expensive.

  1. Are you open to the idea of working with a manager or a record label?

Sure, but there are certain consultations and negotiations that will have to be done. If everything checks out fine then I’ll be thrilled to work with a label.

  1. As a full-time Junior Product Manager at DSTI, how have you maintained a balance between your work life and chasing your music career?

I believe that fluidity is critical. You must adapt your schedule to make plans for contingencies. Another thing is that you must prioritise and be disciplined to achieve your goals.

  1. Has working at DSTI helped your music career? 

Working at DSTI has profoundly impacted my music. DSTI has taught me about being hardworking, thinking outside the box and how to produce quality work that has an impact. Plus DSTI is a family that genuinely hypes, vibes, and supports my craft. In fact, my latest performance at Sugarland beach was facilitated by a colleague from the office. 

  1. How do you think we can merge technology and innovation to improve the entertainment scene in Sierra Leone?

The recent trends in technology and innovation offer many opportunities the industry can seize. One option is to develop a website that makes SL music readily and easily accessible, as is the case in other African countries. We can even leverage the USSD system to update citizens via SMS when new music projects are released.  With technology and innovation, the opportunities are endless. 

  1. What has been your biggest win so far? 

I’d say working with Mike Millz has been my biggest win. He is a notable producer from Ghana who’s worked with Manifest and other huge artists.

  1. Where do you see N.Doe in the next couple of years?

 N.Doe will be a household name in Sierra Leone, collaborating with artists in and out of Sierra Leone and having endorsement deals.

  1. Name two local and two international artists you would like to collaborate with? 

Two artists from Sierra Leone would be Drizilik and Donnie Major. From the rest of Africa, Ladipoe and Sarkodie. In the International scene, I’d be honored to work with J. Cole and Chronixx.

  1. Name two brands that you would want an endorsement deal with? 

Adidas and probably one of the major financial institutions in Africa.

  1. What new projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my first EP, due for release at the end of November and my new single drops this month, stay tuned for the release date. I am honestly working hard on driving Sierra Leone’s music scene to the global stage. 

  1. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to pursue the journey to superstardom? 

Just keep doing you. It’s not easy being an independent artist for sure, but even if a record label comes your way, never fold because you want that opportunity. Make sure you go through the contract and ensure the arrangements are in your favor. Pray as well, keep working on your craft; strive to be innovative, create quality music, make sure you get better, and never settle for less and always aim for quality.

Unfortunately, not all of us are opportuned to work in spaces where we can actively pursue our passions or where our work complements our passion like N.Doe, but no matter where you find yourself, learn to develop adept strategies to maintain the focused balance necessary for your personal and intellectual growth or to pursue your passion.  

Listen to his music here

Apple Music: https://apple.co/3dVsHuR 

Audiomack: https://bit.ly/3jVdA8s

Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/3wx2BoA

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3dVxjBb

Deezer: https://bit.ly/3dWm8rV

Performance at Bintumani Conference Centre

Performance at Sugarland Beach
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