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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Healthcare Innovation Programme Makes First-Ever Medical Drone Delivery In Sierra Leone

On 19th November, the Directorate of Science Technology & Innovation (DSTI) celebrated the first delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone.  The drone delivery was completed by UK-based UAVaid as part of the MDDP project to improve access to medicines in remote parts of the country.  The delivery was conducted to test and demonstrate the use-case of the Medical Drone Delivery Project (MDDP) at the Mabang Community Health Post in Sierra Leone’s Moyamba District, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, partnered with The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), and Crown Agents.

The maiden flight from Rotifunk village to Mabang MCHP took just 13 minutes, a journey which normally takes 2 hours via vehicle, and was celebrated by the local community. In attendance were dignitaries and ministers, including the CIO of Sierra Leone, Dr.Sengeh, who explained the role of innovation and technology in improving access to medicines.  The event also brought together officials from The Ministry of Health and agencies including the National Medical Supplies Agency, Ministry of Basic and Senior Education, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, UNICEF, and other development partners and community stakeholders.

UAV Drone landing with medical supplies at Mabang MCHP.

CIO, David Sengeh and other stakeholders at Mabang MCHP

David Manley, MDDP Project-Lead at DSTI, explained that initially, the MDDP project would focus on improving medicine deliveries to 250 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and hospitals nationwide, and there are plans to expand this to other health posts, significantly improving access to medicines for communities in remote and hard to reach areas of Sierra Leone. He added, “Specifically, in addition to contributing to the reduction of maternal-related deaths, the use of drones presents the possibility of numerous cross-sectoral use-cases and fosters informed decision-making at the highest levels of government.”  

Daniel Ronen, co-founder of UAVAid, said “We are extremely proud to be partnering with the government of Sierra Leone on such an important project and helping to improve the healthcare systems of the nation.  The use of drones helps overcome the numerous transport and data gathering challenges inherent in operating in such complex contexts.”  UAVaid was selected as the preferred drone supplier following a rigorous and transparent selection process from over 30 international companies.

UAV Aid Team with UAV Technical Lead, Rakie Sesay

Dr. Lawrence Sandi, Managing Director of the NMSA, whose agency’s mandate is to procure, warehouse, and distribute drugs and medical supplies nationwide said We are pleased to collaborate with DSTI in bringing this landmark medical intervention to actuality. We are making good progress in transforming healthcare in Sierra Leone with undimmed confidence. We salute all partners involved in the incredible hard work invested in this exercise. This is a win for all of us.”

During the event, Mr. James Houghton, MDDP team member from Crown Agents, explained how the multiple use-case drone operating model would enhance sustainability, a point reinforced by DSTI.

UAV Technical Lead, Rakie Sesay, who also explained that the overall strategy of building a drone ecosystem would encourage cross-sectoral growth across multiple industries including the use of drones in other areas such as agriculture, reforestation, and law enforcement.

Notes to editors

For more information contact:

DSTI:          Drones@dsti.gov.sl

UAVAid:     Daniel Ronen   daniel@uavaid.com

The  MDDP Project

The DSTI led Medical Drone Delivery Project (MDDP) is designed to provide improved access of medicines to parts of Sierra Leone traditionally unnavigable for some or all of the year. The MDDP incorporates a rapid dispatch capability into the existing medical supply chain. This dispatch transports 42 of the most essential commodities prioritized by The National Medical Supply Agency (NMSA) to combat maternal and infant mortality. 

Making a drastic cut to Sierra Leone’s startling maternal mortality statistics has been high on the presidential agenda since 2018. With 15% of the national budget allocated to increasing access to quality health care services, and a promise to halve maternal mortality rates by 2023, creating a space that supports drone-enabled medical supply chains seems like another step in the right direction. 

The Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI)

www.dsti.gov.sl

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), uses science, technology and innovation to support the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver on its national development plan effectively and efficiently, and to help transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub.

UAVAID LTD

www.uavaid.com
UAVAid is a UK-based developer and operator of specialist Unmanned Aerial Systems AKA ‘drones’ that are optimised for global development (GD) and humanitarian applications in remote and difficult to reach areas of the developing world.  They operate a mixed fleet of BVLOS drones, including their proprietary multi-role HANSARD, and VTOL aircraft supported by their technical partner SWOOP.

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Sierra Leone Launches Digital Learning Hubs to boost skills Acquisition

5/11/21

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with UNICEF, launches and officially announces the opening of the first Digital Learning Hub at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM).  

The establishment of the Hub aims to address the existing challenge of skills gaps for young people and within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities.

It also aims to boost the acquisition and retention of in-demand skills for young people intending to enter the job market and cultivate improved learning outcomes for the current workforce.

The Learning Hub will provide a conducive workspace with free access to 30 computers and reliable internet connection. The Hub’s registered users will also have access to a wide range of digital learning content via the Learning Passport platform to help learners fully capitalise on opportunities. 

The Hubs will function on a day-to-day management procedure, and operations will be facilitated by an organisation with experience establishing and operating digital learning centers.

The roll-out of these hubs is set to optimise and redefine existing notions about education meaningfully. The course content of this initiative is tailored to reflect a viable alternative to traditional learning methods and aligns with the broader objective of advancing the Human Capital Development Agenda. 

The hub at IPAM will initially have the eUPSHIFT program available, but will later feature Drones and UAV courses (theoretical and practical), Graphics Design, Multimedia and other courses.

Lead Project Coordinator at DSTI, Salima Bah, sees a great deal of promise in this initiative.

`We can only meet the demands of the 21st-century workforce if we acquire the capacity and skill sets required. With the establishment of the first DLH we are providing an opportunity for young people who are looking to enter the workforce as well as current members of the workforce to acquire the skills sets to make them competitive in the global economy. Tapping into the industry and ingenuity of the workforce through unconventional means is clearly the hallmark of this initiative.’ – Lead Project Coordinator, DSTI, Salima Bah.

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor, highlighted the progress made on Digital Innovation.

With the launch of the 1st Digital Learning Hub, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s Reimage Education agenda. Making digital platforms, like the Learning Passport, and digital content, like eUPSHIFT, available in Sierra Leone, we are taking a step towards making digital learning be part of a basic basket of essential services for every child and young person.”

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor

Echoing on the promise of the hub in transforming skills acquisition and overall professional development of citizens is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

We salute the efforts of DSTI and Unicef for breathing life into the aspirations of increased workforce development designed to foster job market competitiveness and reduce skills deficit. We are thrilled to host the first digital learning hub in Sierra Leone and we are certain that its use will be maximized to its fullest potential” – Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

Want to know more about the Learning Hub or how to be a member? Go to https://www.dsti.gov.sl/project/

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GenUnlimited Sierra Leone; A Precept For Recognizing Youth Potential.

The flare and liveliness that define our years of youth have often been portrayed as one of the most fleeting scenes of life. A scene where we move with ease, enjoy momentary thrills, and bask in the cheap luxury that is time. Former British PM Benjamin Disraeli once quaintly described “the Youth of a Nation as the trustees of posterity.” 

Youth is the period of productivity, industry, and enterprise. Now more than ever, young people deserve a seat at the table as they have an indispensable role in helping humanity create a future built on sustainability and self-reliance. Governments must tap into the expertise, ingenuity, and energy of their young people and then deploy these ideas into Africa’s economic transformation drive.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs, in fulfillment of its mandate, to prepare and empower the young people of Sierra Leone to make meaningful contributions to national development partnered with UNICEF and The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation, to put out a call for a nationwide nomination of young people serving as youth leaders in their communities. 

This initiative sought to achieve two things fundamentally; firstly, to select two young people to represent Sierra Leone at the GenU Global Governance Structure and secondly, to illuminate the relatively obscure but profoundly impactful activities undertaken by young people in their respective communities and spheres of influence. 

Young people must embrace the wave of opportunity, growth, and progress that technology has to offer. Round Table dialogues set the tone for a more extensive discourse on the role and evolution of tomorrow’s leaders – Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, Country Rep, UnicefSL.

136 youth leaders were nominated 1179 times from every region across Sierra Leone. Amongst these, the six nominees with the highest nominations were selected for an interview. 

The six top qualifying nominees were Zipporah Hawa Moriba, Patrick Hassien Gbessay. Samuel Mattia, Martin Daimbaquee, Isha Gibril Sesay, and Isatu Moses. The selection process was merit-based and accorded equal opportunities to young men and women. There was an intentional effort to shortlist candidates from different districts and diverse backgrounds in relation to gender, age, and ethnic identity.

After the selection process, Zipporah Hawa Moriba and Patrick Hassien Gbessay emerged as the winning nominees.

Zipporah Hawa Moriba is from Freetown. She is the Founder and Director of Girls Aid Movement. Currently, She presently pursues an undergraduate degree in Public Sector Management at the Institute of Public Administration and Management, University of Sierra Leone. She volunteers at Restless Development and MenEngage Africa.

Samuel Patrick Hassien Gbessay is the 25-year-old CEO and Founder of Star Catch Up Salone and staunch advocate at Defence for Children International. He is from Serabu, Bumpeh Ngao Chiefdom, Bo District, Southern Sierra Leone.

Although these nominees hail from diverse backgrounds, the commonplace theme is that they have shown traits of progressive leadership as catalysts for development with little resources available to them. 

Golda Fania, the GenU-Sierra Leone, Project Lead at DSTI, asserted that GenU has the latent potential to redefine existing notions about the role of young people in accelerating socio-economic development and nation-building.

 

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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.

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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 
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About Exponent

Exponent is a modern business theme, that lets you build stunning high performance websites using a fully visual interface. Start with any of the demos below or build one on your own.

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