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Sierra Leone drives capacity building in the public sector with the Digital Foundation Program

February 23rd 2021 –  The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology to everyday life including the way we learn and work which has made it imperative that we adapt to meet the demands of the new age.

As part of its agenda to drive digital transformation and establish Sierra Leone as an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, the Government in its Medium Term National Development Plan has prioritized Human Capital Development with education as its flagship program. To deliver on this, the Government has sought to explore opportunities for human capacity development and to upscale and reskill the current workforce through digital learning platforms.

In support, DSTI on November 4th, 2020 announced its partnership with EDACY to launch a Digital Foundations For Public Service Program, a 5-week online program designed to equip government employees with the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to successfully navigate the “new normal” driven by digital technology and innovation. 

“At EDACY, we believe that access to great development opportunities in today’s digital world comes from the right learning experiences, mixing digital tools, collaborative learning and peer reviews. We launched the Digital Foundations for Public Services Program with the desire to help African governments with high-quality training. We are now delighted to have collaborated with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) of Sierra Leone and supported their employees’ capability development.” Said Temitope Ola – Founder and President, EDACY.

The training and certification of 250 public service participants in digital skill courses does not only boost our international HCD credentials but similarly affirms the government’s commitment to achieving its Millennium Development Goals.

The Initiative has in more ways emerged not only as a success story but as a yardstick for determining the viability of successive initiatives of this nature. Following the launch, 250 public sector employees from over 40 government Ministries, Departments and Agencies successfully registered to undertake the program. 

Sierra Leone drives capacity building in the public sector with the Digital Foundation Program 

February 23rd 2021 –  The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology to everyday life including the way we learn and work which has made it imperative that we adapt to meet the demands of the new age.

As part of its agenda to drive digital transformation and establish Sierra Leone as an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, the Government in its Medium Term National Development Plan has prioritized Human Capital Development with education as its flagship program. To deliver on this, the Government has sought to explore opportunities for human capacity development and to upscale and reskill the current workforce through digital learning platforms.

In support, DSTI on November 4th, 2020 announced its partnership with EDACY to launch a Digital Foundations For Public Service Program, a 5-week online program designed to equip government employees with the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to successfully navigate the “new normal” driven by digital technology and innovation. 

“At EDACY, we believe that access to great development opportunities in today’s digital world comes from the right learning experiences, mixing digital tools, collaborative learning and peer reviews. We launched the Digital Foundations for Public Services Program with the desire to help African governments with high-quality training. We are now delighted to have collaborated with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) of Sierra Leone and supported their employees’ capability development.” Said Temitope Ola – Founder and President, EDACY.

The training and certification of 250 public service participants in digital skill courses does not only boost our international HCD credentials but similarly affirms the government’s commitment to achieving its Millennium Development Goals.

The Initiative has in more ways emerged not only as a success story but as a yardstick for determining the viability of successive initiatives of this nature. Following the launch, 250 public sector employees from over 40 government Ministries, Departments and Agencies successfully registered to undertake the program. 

“ I really enjoyed this program, especially the TIMWOOD theory, which helped me to understand efficient use of time, movement of people’s equipment in performing duties. I also learnt proper management of resources to avoid wastage and gained adequate skills and training to improve employee performance in public service delivery.” Said Rhoda Spencer Cole- Records Assistant,  Office of the Administrator and Registrar General. 

During the virtual Certification Ceremony held earlier today, 75 participants from 26 MDAs were presented with a Certificate for successfully completing over 90% of the program.

  Certificate of Completion Awarded during the ceremony 

The trained and certified participants will contribute to nation building by exploring the new techniques they have gained, offering innovative insight into their organisation’s challenges and identifying new and sustainable solutions to existing problems.

As part of the ongoing drive to support the public sector workforce, DSTI announced a partnership with MIT GOV/LAB to design and develop a Governance Innovation Bootcamp. The  2-week program is designed to give public servants the toolkits needed to design effective and innovative solutions to governance challenges. As a further reward for completing the Digital Foundations Program, 15 out of the available 30 spaces for the Governance Innovation Bootcamp will be reserved for the participants who received a certificate of completion from EDACY.

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Sierra Leone joins Giga towards “Digitization For All”

10 February 2020

The Government of Sierra Leone sees education as central to Human Capital Development and joins Giga to continue accelerating school connectivity and explore innovations to empower communities.

The Government of Sierra Leone, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have signed an agreement to collaborate on Giga, a UNICEF-ITU global initiative to connect every school to the Internet, and every young person to information, opportunity and choice.

Launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school and its surrounding community in the world. Some 3.7 billion people in the world are unable to access the Internet; a lack of access means children and young people are excluded from the wealth of information available online, limiting their opportunities to learn and grow and to fulfill their potential.

Sierra Leone has made significant progress over the past decade and is now firmly on the path towards long-term sustainable development; however, a combination of factors holds back economic recovery, including inequalities in gender, education, and income and a growing youth population facing youth unemployment. Approximately 70% of youth 15-35 (one-third of total population) are underemployed or unemployed; illiteracy remains a persistent challenge, and youth that lack skills and education find it extremely difficult to compete for the limited jobs available.

The Government recognizes the importance of education toward achieving its goal of Human Capital Development and contributing to not only the global digital economy but also its own national progress. Its Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has set forth a curriculum focused on empowering learners with foundational competencies and ICT skills; its Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) launched its Digitization for All Strategy to transform Sierra Leone into a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“’Digitization for all’ in Sierra Leone is not just a concept. It is a developmental road map that defines paths we already tread. While the country’s education flagship program is dripping in innovation and technology, connectivity has been a blockade,” said Ms. Michala Mackay, Director & COO of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Through Giga’s school connectivity mapping and collaboration with the Government, it was found that while 80% of 11,200 schools in Sierra Leone are within 3G or 4G coverage, only 205 schools are connected. 43.3% of Sierra Leoneans cannot connect to the Internet due to cost and digital literacy constraints, while 40% are not covered at all by existing infrastructure — preventing them from accessing the wealth of educational resources and opportunities toward development.

“Connectivity is critical for our lives, our learning and prosperity; however, 960 million people living in Africa are still offline (ITU Facts and Figures 2020). In Sierra Leone where there are 86 mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and 84 percent of households are without internet access, connecting all primary and secondary schools to the internet will allow more inclusive access to young learners, enabling them to access the wealth of information available online and opening up future opportunities to them,” highlighted Doreen Bogdan Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.

“Minister Sengeh and his teams have been global leaders on open source technology for the public good,” said Chris Fabian, Co-Lead, Giga. “Financing and monitoring the connectivity of every school, with Giga, can support Sierra Leone’s leadership in digital public goods by helping get better, affordable connectivity into everybody’s hands.”

Sierra Leone joins Giga to expand school connectivity efforts and explore where innovations, such as digital assets, can play a role in empowering entire communities. Giga has already worked with the Government to identify several activities to support the cost-effective connection of approximately 11,000 schools — equipping a further 3 million in their local communities with the tools and skills they need to empower their nation.

“Developing digital skills and infrastructure are fundamental in reinventing education in Sierra Leone. Connecting 1000 pilot schools would no doubt leapfrog national efforts to bridge the digital divide,” said Ms. Mackay. “We are elated to be offered this opportunity and intend to take the fullest advantage of it.”


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World Economic Forum-2030Vision Framework for Government Action Report

World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Global Public Goods – released its 2030Vision report which covers critical conversations that need to manifest in governments to enable the use of technological advancements to support development towards achieving the Global Goals.

The report cited Sierra Leone’s hard-won gains in using science, technology and innovation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with its National COVID-19 Response Centre (NaCOVERC). The Government of Sierra Leone developed its countrywide COVID‐19 Emergency Response which incorporated an ICT Response Pillar, consisting of public, private and global partners.


The pillar harnesses information technology and data to expand COVID‐19 interventions that inform and guide policy‐makers,  public health experts and citizens on infection prevention and control, when it is necessary to take certain measures such as lockdowns and curfews to mitigate the spread of the virus which is why Sierra Leone records low cases and deaths compared to other countries.

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HCDI Education Innovation Challenge Reflection and Learning Summit Report

A comprehensive introduction to Sierra Leone’s Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) that captures in-depth analysis of the education data including nationwide primary school baseline assessment, interventions by education Service Providers, new education policy, and much more #transforming education in Sierra Leone.

Blog, NIDS

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports Drones in Sierra Leone for medical supply chain innovation

On 20th, October 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a grant of $131,130 to the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) to support the proposal for the design of a sustainable and cost-effective drone-delivery model for integration into Sierra Leone’s medical supply chain.

This is a supplement to the grant that was previously awarded for the support of The Integrated Geographic Information System (iGIS)  Portal, a cross-sectoral spatial data infrastructure and geodatabase.

“When DSTI presented their vision to the Interagency Supplies Group on UAS I was determined to support them. I had been aware of the project from a distance, but it was important to hear the clear articulation of how they planned to work across the different departments of the Sierra Leone Government, and with UNICEF and Crown Agents. Supporting and empowering DSTI helps ensure this is Government-led, that partners selection is consistent with Government procurement protocols and that there is a plan to fund implementation in the medium term that donors can get behind.” David Sarley, Senior Program Officer- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The National Development plan has as one of its strategic objectives, “to transform the health sector from an under-resourced, ill-equipped, and inadequate delivery system into a well resourced and functioning national health-care delivery system that is affordable for everyone and accessible to all.” Consequently, optimizing the speed, responsiveness and efficiency of the existing medical supply chain, through the use of drones to improves access to essential medical supplies, could be a key factor in influencing that outcome.

As an affordable technological device, a drone has the potential to provide increased access to areas in Sierra Leone previously thought too remote or unnavigable. Drones can complete a trip, in under 90 minutes from a single, central location on a drop-and-return basis. This provides leaders and decision-makers in the Ministry of health and Sanitation (MoHS), the following:

  •  a real-time, on-demand delivery strategy for cold chain essential medical supplies  
  •  a cost-effective, timely option for hospitals  and rural community health centres restock rural community health centres to restock 
  •  amplify logistics capabilities by extending the current limited diagnostic coverage 
  •  a rapid-response strategy to pathogen outbreak 

DSTI, in collaboration with the National Medical Supply Agency (NMSA), and their development partners, intend to design a 5-year project to integrate a national drone-based, multi-commodity, medical delivery system in Sierra Leone. This builds on the existing rapport and collaboration with UNICEF Sierra Leone Innovation Office. UNICEF, through the UNICEF Innovation Fund provides resources to quickly assess, fund and scale companies, teams, and ideas that have been developed in new and emerging markets. The Innovation Fund supports the generation of open source, public goods that address the most pressing challenges facing children. It was under this mandate that the collaboration between DSTI and UNICEF SL was forged, leading to the establishment of West Africa’s first Drone / UAV / UAS testing corridor in Sierra Leone in November 2019.  

“In Sierra Leone, innovation is not an option. It is our determination to use fourth industrial revolution technologies to solve our most intractable problems. To see our work in drones, advance from idea, to a drone corridor, and now being projected on a flight path is incredible. The day when lives will be saved because of cost-effective national drone delivery mechanisms is upon us in Sierra Leone. With the partnerships being created and led by government, the impact will be transformational.” Dr David  Moinina Sengeh, CIO 

In line with the objective of developing Sierra Leone’s drone ecosystem organically, the design team will be putting out an expression of interest inviting suppliers to demo multiple use cases and UAV capacity in the corridor to inform the final proposal document. A scholarship would be awarded to the supplier selected using the grant resources.  

The Managing Director of the NMSA, Dr Lawrence Sandy, hopes that the introduction of drone technology will support and enhance the timely delivery of critically needed medical commodities such as blood products, and temperature sensitive drugs like oxytocin to remote and hard to reach communities. He continued by saying, 

“This would save precious lives, empower our health workforce, and strengthen our healthcare systems. A healthcare system is only as good as having the ability to deliver critically needed life-saving products at service delivery points to treat, prevent and reduce disease burden on individuals and communities. As a nation, we’ve made significant strides over the last two years to optimize our drug distribution systems. We are with a strong view that this innovation will reduce our maternal and child mortality and morbidity, improve health outcomes and strengthen our supply chain into a more resilient outfit. We look forward to a fostered partnership and close collaboration on this national drone project.

To make any inquiries, send an email to drones@dsti.gov.sl

Blog

Government of Sierra Leone’s open source initiative “OpenG2P” developed during COVID-19 announced as a UN Digital Public Good

The UN-based Digital Public Goods Alliance adds OpenG2P as a digital public good in alignment with the Digital Public Goods Standard.   Bootstrapped by a dynamic group of innovators at the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), Government of Sierra Leone, “OpenG2P” emerged out of the 2014-2016 Sierra Leone Ebola Payments Program, and is developed as a set of open-source building blocks to help Governments worldwide digitize their social protection programs. 

In today’s Covid-19 pandemic, accelerating cash transfers is the single most important response to getting assistance in the hands of frontline workers and vulnerable groups in a timely and transparent manner.  However, many governments across the world are hampered by limited interoperability within their nascent digital infrastructures such as identity, payment ecosystem, and social protection enrollment systems. OpenG2P creates a framework to digitize cash transfer programs through a set of open source, free to use, digital solutions that build on existing infrastructures to address country-specific gaps. 

Dr. David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer of DSTI and one of the architects of OpenG2P said; “Mobilizing cash transfers and payment of beneficiaries through digital bank accounts and mobile wallets is not the singular magic potion that solves governments’ Covid-19-related social protection challenges. But it is a critical step to ensuring that the right people get the resources they need in a transparent way. This is why today we are proud to be recognized for our work within government and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The ultimate goal of OpenG2P is to provide a seamless solution that helps governments increase the efficacy of their economic relief, maximize choice for their citizens, and improve financial inclusion while protecting their right to data privacy and informed consent.

“These complexities around implementation will be solved by building a collaborative cross-sectoral ecosystem that can continually verify, enroll and pay with improved transparency, accountability, and choice for citizens,” said Mr Salton Massally who is the technical lead and architect of OpenG2P.

OpenG2P is also selected as one of the 7 key projects along with MojaLoop, Mifos, and MOSIP by the Alliance’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice to help advance the Secretary General’s digital cooperation roadmap to achieve greater financial inclusion and meet the sustainable development goals by 2030. As such, Paul Maritz, a seasoned early stage open source investor, will provide catalytic co-funding for the reference implementation of OpenG2P in Sierra Leone through the Digital Inclusion Foundation

DSTI collaborated with key partners Mifos, DIAL and iDT Labs on OpenG2P through voluntary non-financial contributions of James Dailey and Ed Cable of Mifos, Salton Massally and Keyzom Ngodup Massally as independent advisors.

Blog

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation and EDACY to Launch Digital Skill Program for the Public Servants

November 4th 2020 – The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) of Sierra Leone and EDACY launch a digital skills program – “Digital Foundations for Public Service Program” to provide Sierra Leone government employees with access to digital skills training.

COVID-19 has altered the technological landscape of many industries. Digital technology is now the centre of operation for many industries. In light of such transformations, there is a pressing need for public servants to upskill or re-skill in order to have the necessary digital skills and digital mindset to contribute in building and fostering opportunities in the public initiatives during and post-COVID.

His Excellency the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s Human Capital Development Agenda aims to equip and enable Sierra Leoneans to acquire the necessary skills sets that would make them competitive in the twenty-first-century workforce and global economy. In support of this, DSTI in partnership with other government stakeholders has identified the upscaling of the public sector workforce as essential for much-needed capacity building and preparation for the ‘Future of Work’ in government services.

In this regard, DSTI has partnered with EDACY to provide an opportunity for public servants in Sierra Leone to undertake and earn a certification on Digital Foundations for Public Service. 250 participants will be part of a first phase and the possibility to expand to more public servants will be discussed before phase one resumes.

Michala Mackay, the Director and Chief Operating Officer of DSTI, asserted that, 

continuous learning and capacity building in the public sector is a must in order for Sierra Leone to drive a robust innovative agenda. Opportunities of this nature are welcoming as the knock-on effect in institutional strengthening and ultimately improved government service delivery is assured …

Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer and Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education also added, 

 As policy leaders in the 21st century, we need the right skills, language and acumen to solve the very complex problems we face today. While these problems often transcend technology, innovation is critical for developing impactful solutions. This is why we see very senior government officials including cabinet ministers and heads of agencies showing interest in these programs 

Said Temitope Ola – Founder and President, EDACY.

At EDACY, we believe that access to great development opportunities in today’s digital world comes from the right learning experiences, mixing digital tools, collaborative learning and peer reviews. We launched the Digital Foundations for Public Services Program with the desire to help African governments with high-quality training. We are now delighted to collaborate with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) of Sierra Leone and support their employees’ capability development. 

EDACY, in partnership with the Swiss Institute of Technology (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL), created the Digital Foundations for Public Services – a 5-week online program, designed to equip government employees with the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to successfully navigate the “new normal” driven by digital technology and innovation.

Government employees who participate in the program will be able to improve their organization’s processes, service delivery and operations for digital. They will also be able to explore and find new tools and technologies for their current organization’s challenges and to identify new solutions and ways to accomplish their work and day-to-day tasks.

About EDACY

EDACY is a fast-growing Swiss-based Edtech company that partners with leading universities and top global product companies to develop and offer certified short online courses to upskill the workforce for the 4th Industrial Revolution and shape the future of public services. (www.edacy.com)

Register Here: https://rb.gy/rnpfh2

Blog

Sierra Leone’s Quarantine App Offers Real-time Data, Improves Citizen Service Delivery

A mobile application developed for the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Center (NaCOVERC) has made it easier for officials in Sierra Leone to track services at quarantine facilities. The Quarantine App can be used to log and track food delivery, date in and expected date out of quarantined persons, psychosocial support and other services in real-time.

Benjamin Davies, Research and Operations Manager, and Foday Kamara, Software Developer HCD Incubator DSTI have trained Quarantine Supervisors, Ops Coordinators, Field Managers, and all-district  ICT staff to use the Quarantine App which was developed with the support of DSTI partner Dimagi.

“Before this app was developed, one would have to log information in a book and then get a data entry clerk to enter it on a computer and then find a reliable internet connection to send that information to Freetown, ” says Davies.

The training sessions took place over thirteen weeks at District COVID-19 Emergency Response Center (DICOVERC) nationwide. 

”With the App, the moment monitors go to the site, enter the information, and click sync, the server makes the information readily available nationwide. It allows for real-time decision-making based on the facts on the ground at that particular moment,” says Kamara. 

Since the rollout of the app in July, there has been a significant reduction in complaints made by contacts in quarantine facilities. The Quarantine App is connected to the 117 Call Center so accurate information could be provided to persons in quarantine..

Over 11,144 people have been in quarantine so far according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation September 21 Situation Report on Covid-19.

Wilsona Jalloh, Acting Team Lead, Human Capital Development Incubator

”We would have had the App and the tablets with end-users earlier but the lack of flights and Covid-19 restrictions slowed down the rollout process, ”  said Wilsona Jalloh, Acting Team Lead, Human Capital Development Incubator. 

”We are thrilled to have collaborated with our global and local partners  to make our quarantined homes and centres easier to manage for our frontline workers, and more suitable for citizens affected by Covid-19.”

Since the outbreak, Sierra Leone has used technology to replace inefficient manual processes and in so doing strengthened the wider healthcare system and improve the national pandemic response.

Blog

Government Incubator Education Innovation Summit highlights lessons from national pilot program

Learning by experimentation was the theme at the Education Innovation Summit hosted by the Human Capital Development (HCD) Incubator in Freetown, Sierra Leone last week. President Julius Maada Bio launched the HCD in 2018 as an Innovation in Government Incubator to test, seed, and scale innovations related to health, agriculture, and education.

The Incubator hosted education partners, Save the Children-SL, Rising Academy Networks, EducAid, National Youth Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL), and World Vision SL to exchange ideas, best practices, and innovations in education service delivery. Their winning ideas are currently being implemented in 170 schools and communities in Phase One of the Education Innovation Challenge

The leaderships of the Directorate of Science, Technology, & Innovation, the Ministry of Basic Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), and the Teaching Service Commission jointly co-chaired the event.

The Minister of MBSSE, Dr. David Sengeh, said that access to quality education in Sierra Leone has always been unequal; rural communities have had less than the Western Areas, and girls and women less than their male counterparts. He said that making education inclusive was a guiding principle for the Free Quality School Education Program. He also announced that the Education Innovation Challenge was to receive additional donor funding that would extend the pilot phase. 

Dr. Staneala Beckley

The Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, Dr. Staneala Beckley, said that the Summit’s purpose was to assess the pilot’s impact on learning outcomes for children. She said that the challenges and lessons gleaned from this phase would inform the pilot. 

Two representatives from the HCD and DSTI; Benjamin Davies and Foday N. Kamara, presented the EIC baseline findings—data collected from a random sample of ~10,000 students whose literacy and numeracy levels were evaluated by researchers before the pilot.

Wilsona Jalloh of the HCD Incubator gave a summary of The Challenge so far and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to data collection. She said that the findings drive decision-making—not just the pilot design but education policy. The pilot’s singular focus is to improve learning outcomes for all of the children in Sierra Leone. The HCD will conduct an end-line study and review the 2020 National Primary School Examination results to learn more about the interventions’ impact. 

There was a breakout session for the various EIC implementing organizations. They brainstormed in smaller groups with DSTI, HCD, and other education stakeholders to understand what worked, the challenges, and outstanding questions. 

The EIC Summit closed with a recommitment of Government to the partners who will continue these innovations in education service delivery.

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