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DSTI, SORA Technology, and Njala University Signed MOU for Sierra Leone Medical Drone Infrastructure

SORA Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) and Njala University, by which drones and accumulated knowledge of SORA Technology contribute to improved health outcomes and human capital development in Sierra Leone.

The MOU, titled “ESTABLISHMENT OF MEDICAL DRONE INFRASTRUCTURE IN SIERRA LEONE”, is based on common views about the huge potential of drones both for solving the bottlenecks of medical supplies in Sierra Leone, and contributing to national digitalization strategies and human capital development. The parties have already been preparing a pilot of their system of drone delivery in Sierra Leone for providing appropriate service of medical supplies in rural areas.

The fixed-wing drone by SORA Technology, is designed not only for delivering medical supplies at long range, but also for aerial monitoring and data collection. The agreement will help contribute to improving drone and digital capabilities of Sierra Leone.

Moreover, SORA Technology is also collaborating with HealthGrid Sierra Leone, an initiative to provide access to electricity, internet connectivity, and other essential services to off-grid health facilities in Sierra Leone. This initiative is organized by USAID Global Development Alliance (GDA) and managed by a multi-sector consortium, including RESOLVE, Orange Sierra Leone, and bechtel.org, World Vision, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitization. Synergies with these partners will help SORA Technology realize sustainable drone operations in rural Sierra Leone, and contribute to “Digitization for All” and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) of Sierra Leone.

“We are delighted to be working with DSTI and Njala University to commit not only for medical drone delivery but also for the entire support of the national digital development. This partnership is an important step for us to kick off our mission in Africa. Our drones achieve sustainable support for improving access to medical supplies while spurring digital innovations and transformations in various sectors of Sierra Leone.” (Masaki Umeda, Africa Business Lead, SORA Technology)

“In order to exploit emerging technologies to improve health outcomes, DSTI works with multiple partners to create the enabling environment to seed and test these innovations and develop human capital to effectively engage with these technologies in a Sierra Leone centric way. This partnership will pave the way to train Sierra Leonean drone pilots and data scientists and test and seed the integration of drones into the existing medical supply chain.” (David Manley, Project Coordinator, DSTI)

“Njala University is delighted to partner with SORA Technology and DSTI in the area of drone technology and Data Science to contribute to the healthcare systems and human capital development in Sierra Leone. We are inspired by the amazing collaborative spirit to overcome the significant challenges of deploying drones safely and at scale. It’s incredibly important to build a self-sustaining ecosystem of experts that can support the deployment of drones. It is expected that the partnership will create a national Drone and Data Academy, which will build local capacity, as well as provide young people with the skills to analyse aerial imagery, build and operate drones.” (Thomas Songu, Director of Information & Communication Technology, Njala University)

About the Sierra Leone National Drone Corridor

Sierra Leone’s drone corridor is one of six supported by UNICEF in the world. Launched in November 2019 by DSTI, UNICEF, Njala University, Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority.

As a sandbox where industry, universities, and individuals are able to test the use of drones for imagery, connectivity, and transport. It has so far provided opportunities for learning and exploration of the use of drones in Sierra Leone and continues to work on creating research opportunities for students and fellows.

About Njala University

Njala University (or simply Njala, as it is fondly called), is a rural comprehensive public research university in Sierra Leone, is committed to providing the highest standards of excellence in higher education in Sierra Leone and beyond, fostering intellectual and personal development, and stimulating meaningful research and service to humankind.

Njala University has had a rich history since its establishment in 1964 as a university college based on the model of the American Land Grant University. Since then, it has metamorphosed into one of the leading universities in the country, preparing undergraduate and postgraduate students for careers in a wide variety of specializations including Education, Agricultural Research and Extension, Agricultural Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Community Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, Natural Resources Management and in Information Technology, among others. Njala University is a multi-disciplinary university with three campuses – the Njala campus in the Moyamba District, the Bo campus in the Bo District and the newly established Bonthe campus in the Bonthe District. We also operate a location in Freetown.

About SORA Technology

SORA Technology is a Japanese company that utilizes drones and air mobility to promote social transformation after the pandemic of COVID-19.
With the purpose of the realization of Universal Health Coverage and Digital Transformation in Africa and Asia, we build and operate drone-based infrastructure, including their flight management systems. We contribute to solving the problems of inaccessibility and inefficiencies by developing completely new infrastructure centred on drones not only for safe, reliable, and timely transportation of goods but also for the effective management of digital information.

Blog

USING DRONE LITERACY TO BUILD SIERRA LEONE’S DRONE ECOSYSTEM

In the 21st Century, digital skills will be critical for sustainable national development as Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies like 3D printers, artificial intelligence and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) become increasingly pervasive. Young people who will become exposed to the applications of these advanced scientific and technology tools will need to be equipped with the right skills. 

In an effort to nurture and optimise digital literacy in Sierra Leone, DSTI and UNICEF SL, organised a one-day training session for 40 drone enthusiasts at the Njala University Innovation Center, Mokonde Campus. The training session brought together people from diverse academic disciplines, including Government workers, geographers, environment conservationists, engineers, multimedia creatives, etc. who each are seeking to apply the technology to their various disciplines.

The training was facilitated by DSTI’s UAV Technical Lead and certified drone pilot, Hafsatu Rakie Sesay. Participants received an introductory lesson on the basics of drone flight, types of drones, general statistics on drone technology, different drone use cases, and laws regulating drone use within Sierra Leone. The training also focused on safety in drone aviation, with a primary goal of ensuring that life and property are protected during any use of drones. In addition to learning about specific use cases, the training emphasised the use of UAVs as data collection tools across sectors. 

“People must tap into the wave of opportunity that drone technology offers. Training set the stage grooming and empowering Sierra Leone’s young drone ecosystem.” – Hafsatu Rakie Sesay, DSTI’s UAV Technical Lead and Certified Drone Pilot.

The training featured an interactive Q&A session during which participants asked questions and discussed areas of interest, including employment opportunities for drone pilots, policy implications for unlicensed drone use, use of drones in construction, industrial deployment of drones and use of drones for disaster response. 

The possibility of drones being deployed in almost every area of development is simply fascinating, John Alhaji Senessie, one of the participants declared. Speaking on his experiences, he furthered that, “‘up-scaling radical tech interventions such as drones is what Sierra Leone needs to cultivate cutting-edge digital solutions for a more robust nation-building drive.”

Next steps:

Ms. Sesay affirmed plans to complete the theoretical training with hands-on a live demo of safe uses of UAVs by all the participants/  DSTI maintains a drone corridor at the Mokonde campus of Njala University. Future initiatives will also include networking with professionals in drone space.

In line with the objective of developing Sierra Leone’s drone ecosystem organically, DSTI, in partnership with UNICEF Sierra Leone and the Njala University, remains invested in the business of enhancing the latent potential of human capital development to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub. 

Media Contact:

Mariama Rogers: Communications and Business Development Officer – Email mariama.rogers@dsti.gov.sl or Media@dsti.gov.sl, Tel +23275709963

Request For Proposal

SERVICES OF CONSULTING FIRM FOR HOSTING eUPSHIFT HCD TRAININGS

UPSHIFT is a youth social innovation and social entrepreneurship program, designed to build skills and create opportunities for young people. The program empowers young people with the skills and resources necessary to help them identify problems in their communities and design local solutions for them. eUPSHIFT is a digital version of the UPSHIFT program and is delivered via Learning Passport.

Procurement Number: DSTI/LP/NCB/2021/
Date of Issue: 16th February, 2022
Date of Bid Closing: 23rd February, 2022

Blog

The Digital Learning Hub Opens Its Doors To The National Commission For Children.

12th February 2022 – The National Commission for Children organised teaching sessions for secondary school pupils from the Children Forum Network (CFN), on the use and associated benefits of the Sierra Leone Learning Passport and E-Upshift Program available at the Digital Learning Hub

The Learning Hub is an establishment that aims to address the existing challenge of skills gaps within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities. It includes a conducive workspace with free access to 30 computers and a reliable internet connection. The hub is open from Mondays to Fridays from 9 AM- 5 PM at IPAM’s New Building. 

Project Coordinator, Bani Foster pictured with some secondary students from CFN

“One of DSTI’s cardinal responsibilities is to foster the sustainable improvement of Sierra Leone’s educational ecosystem through the deployment of digital tools to supplement existing teaching and learning methods.”- Bani Foster, Project Coordinator. 

The Sierra Leone Learning Passport is an online/offline and mobile digital learning platform that provides students with access to past exam questions, and other learning resources to close the gaps in learning disparities and provide digital learning opportunities to all.   

The E-Upshift program contains several essential courses designed to provoke critical thought processes which inspire the resolve to swiftly provide solutions to community problems. Hence, it will feature prominently as a course on another Learning Passport which is tailored to bolster Human Capital Development.

This engagement was conceived to support the pilot phase of Sierra Leone’s Learning Passport recently announced by Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) and Minister of Education, David Sengeh, in partnership with UNICEF on the 1st of February, 2022.

Students were able to explore contents of the Learning Passport.

“We are pleased to be part of the process of building a digital future for tomorrow’s leaders.”- Mahmoud Keita, Outreach Child Welfare Officer, NCC. Keita further pledged the commission’s abiding commitment to ensuring that pupils from different schools pay routine visits to the hub and maximize this opportunity.

An alumnus from the Annie Walsh Secondary School, Marion Yeanor Samura noted that the session was very timely and educational, and caters not only for pupils preparing for public exams but also to those interested in acquiring knowledge of computers and digital skills.

The world has grown rapidly towards digital knowledge and with the establishment of 3 more hubs to be announced this month, the Government of Sierra Leone affirms its commitments to boost Human Capital Development to ensure that we are the pioneers of Sierra Leone’s digital future.

Blog

Nurturing Sierra Leone’s Drone Ecosystem; An Exercise For Reducing Skills Deficit and Boosting Workforce Development.

As the proud destination of Africa’s 2nd drone corridor and home to the only corridor in West Africa, Sierra Leone has etched its name on the world stage as a committed advocate for integrating drone technology into many aspects of development such as Health, Agriculture, Disaster Response and many more.

In line with this vision to foster drone technology and cultivate Sierra Leone’s first generation of drone/UAV pilots and technicians, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation devised and executed a two-day training session on the basics of drone technology at the newly established Digital Learning Hub located at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM).

The Learning Hub is an establishment that aims to address the existing challenge of skills gaps within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities. It includes a conducive workspace with free access to 30 computers and a reliable internet connection. 

The cardinal purpose of these drone training sessions was to curate, encourage and incentivize a group of drone enthusiasts to join the fledgling drone ecosystem. The training sessions were conducted over two days. 

On the first day, participants were instructed on the rudimentary elements of drone technology with detailed descriptions of drone modification and use case adaptation. The second day continued with an informative and thoroughgoing review of the different ways data collected by drones can be leveraged and utilized for public and private sector benefits.

Hafsatu Rakie Sesay is DSTI’s UAV Technical Lead and Sierra Leone’s only certified drone pilot. Speaking on the prospects of the session, she affirmed that she is intrigued by the possibility of mentoring the group and nurturing their budding interests in drones.

Hafsatu Rakie Sesay, Course facilitator holding a certificate

When queried on the next steps for the sustainability of this initiative; She confirmed that plans were already in the works to invite this crop of participants to a drone demonstration at the corridor. This demonstration, she continued, will not only allow these participants to interact with international drone pilots and technicians but will similarly put the theories discussed during the training sessions to ardent practice.

Furthermore, all participants will receive a completion certificate. This is undoubtedly a crucial first step in getting these young people to own the process, inspire and transmit these ideas to their colleagues. This feeds directly into the government’s youth-centred agenda and capacitation priorities.

Iyemary Brimah Sallu receiving her certificate

Iyemary Brimah Sallu is the business developer at ECOMED Sierra Leone and is one of the participants. Iyemary is fascinated by drones and hopes to take up a career in aviation.

Courses like this can empower students with access to information, job opportunities, and services that invariably improve their living standard whilst enhancing opportunities for data gathering and analysis for more targeted and effective problem-solving strategies. – Iyemary Brimah Sallu

In hindsight, the timeliness of this training cannot be overemphasized because as government rethinks and realigns its development strategy around innovative solutions, there be will be a surge in the demand for these skills, this demand will in essence achieve the overarching objective of the learning hub which is to reduce skills deficit for tomorrow’s job market squarely.

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