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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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DSTI’s Policy Lead, Michaella Jane George, starts a new journey

As one of the founding members of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), Michaella Jane George worked as the Policy Lead from 2018 to 2021 leading the policy team and steering DSTI’s legal strategies and framework in administration, projects, service delivery and informing data-driven policies in government.

With a background as a solicitor and legal consultant who has practiced with two the most reputable firms in Sierra Leone, Michaella is versatile and multi-talented, and this manifested in her delivery on projects such as; Digital Governance, development of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy, National Youth Digital forum, Open Government 2 Public, Education Innovation Challenge, Education Outcome Fund, Ease of Doing Business, Ecosystems Mapping, Grid 3 to name a few.

Michaella served on DSTI leadership and from October 2019 to May 2020, was the acting Director and COO of DSTI, making her the first female to lead a technology and Innovation government institution in Sierra Leone.

Michaella created the social groups (#team fun) and also the DSTI Women group (#DSTIwomen), these groups drive equality, empathy, culture and unwinding necessities.

Before her departure from DSTI, Michaella championed the DSTI by Legislation consultation process that would lead to the establishment of DSTI by an Act of Parliament and leaving the legacy and blueprint of the first technology and Innovation Agency in Sierra Leone.

“As a woman in the professional world, I have learnt that we have to work twice as hard to be at par with our Male counterparts. Our personal life, our style, preferences and sexual orientation are constantly under scrutiny. People judge your level of intelligence by your fashion style or what you chose to do to your body. When young women rise, it’s always associated with a sexual exchange for growth. It’s a tough world, yet that’s what makes us unique. Our greatest challenge is our greatest opportunity. Prove them wrong! and hen all is said and done, one thing that should be undeniable is; your capacity, integrity, consistency, confidence, drive and empathy…stay true, stay you, and as you rise, lift other women.”

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Governance Innovation Bootcamp culminates in a pitch night

MIT Governance Lab (MIT GOV/LAB), in collaboration with the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI), designed a two-week Governance Innovation Bootcamp which provided an opportunity for 25 public servants from various government Institutions to learn and apply the MIT Gov/Lab Methodology to develop an innovative approach to solving governance challenges and spark a culture of governance innovation within their teams.

The two-week  Governance Innovation Bootcamp culminated in a pitch night on June 18th  at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown, where participating teams presented the project proposals developed during the Bootcamp to an esteemed Judging Panel for an opportunity to win 6 months of technical from DSTI as well as financial support from a total prize fund of $80,0000// for project implementation.

The participating team comprised of 3 members from the following Institutions; the National Revenue Authority (NRA); Teaching Service Commission(TSC); National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA); National Minerals Agency (MNA); Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG); and the Ministry of Transport and Aviation (MTA) as well as aa DSTI embedded staff, and a researcher to provide technical support.

Among the judges were Mohamed Lamin Tarrawalley, the Solicitor General; Prof. Lilly Tsai, Founder and Director of MIT Gov/Lab, Prof. Fredline M’Cormack-Hale, Research and Policy Director for the Institute for Governance Reform in Sierra Leone; Mariama Anthony Williams, the Country Head of the Tony Blair Institute in Sierra Leone; Iman Beoku-Betts, a Data Scientist at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education; and Asmaa James, Journalist, women’s rights activist, and host of the human rights radio program, Good Morning Sierra Leone.

Mohamed Lamin Tarrawally, Fredline M’Cormack-Hale, and Iman Beoku-Betts

The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, the Chief Innovation Officer of Sierra Leone and Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education,  who expressed the importance of innovation for effective citizens service delivery. In his address, he stated that ‘Governance innovation lies at the core of service delivery in citizens engagement. And the objective of the government is to provide services for its citizens all across the country and that informs its national innovation digital strategy which talks about digitalization for all. It explicitly talks about digital governance, digital identity, and the digital economy. Which most of the teams explained in their presentations’.

 Dr David Moinina Sengeh

Leading up to the pitch night, participants were guided through the four phases of innovation of the MIT Gov/Lab Methodology: (1) identifying a problem, (2) generating validated user-centered insights, (3) designing and refining new concepts, and, finally, turning these concepts into (4) implementable solutions. This Methodology is an iterative process that weaves together practices from human-centered design, systems thinking, and the social sciences reflecting on the learning module developed by Susy Tort and including Gabriela Reygadas and Innocent Ndubuisi-Obi Jr. Kate Krontiris, a civic researcher and strategist, who facilitated the Bootcamp. 

Kate Krontiris,  Civic Researcher and Strategist, facilitated the workshop and co-host at the pitch night.

In a video message played during the event, Professor Lily L. Tsai, MIT GOV/LAB’s Director and Founder said that “we designed this Bootcamp with the purpose of introducing a framework for governance innovation that brings together government officials who want to create solutions to the problems they encounter every day.” 

Although the event was to promote and celebrate innovators in the public sector, the audience was entertained with a powerful poem by DSTI’s 4AIR Lead and poet, David Manley followed up with a captivating performance by an alternative musician and producer, Solo’s Beats. 

4AIR Lead (DSTI) and Poet,  David Manley

 Alternative musician and producer, Solo’s Beats.

Before crowning the winners, certificates of completion were awarded to all participants by Dr. Sengeh, acknowledging their efforts to support the government of Sierra Leone in leveraging tech and innovation to enhance citizen service delivery. 

 Mariatu Flee from MTA,  receives her certificate of completion from Dr Sengeh 

The winning proposals

The teams’ presentations were evaluated on the teams’ understanding of the problem, its relevance, and its context; whether their proposed solution is evidence-based, human-centered, and original; the idea’s potential for solving the problem, changing normative behaviors, and improving the lives of citizens; the feasibility of the outcomes and any potential risks; and the quality of the presentation. 

A winning team from the National Revenue Authority pitched a portal for taxpayers that would include information on deadlines and instructions on how to pay taxes, as well as tax calculators and live chat support. They hope the portal would not only increase revenue for government programs, but also make the department more responsive to citizens that need support for meeting their tax obligations. The system would save people time and money, since many have to travel to and pay a tax agent, and reduce human error with collecting taxes. 

Team NRA won $20,000 for project implementation

Another winning team, from the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General, proposed digitizing the country’s land registry records, which are currently paper-based. Since it takes a long time to sift through paper records, land transactions are frequently delayed. Many paper records are in poor condition due to heat and humidity, and many have been misfiled, resulting in a large number of land disputes. A complete digital record would allow the office to better protect people’s property rights, allow citizens easy access to their land registry records, and reduce the time needed for transactions.   

Team OARG won $30,000 for their drive for a digitized and paperless solution.

The third winning team, from the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), introduced a plan for improving public procurement reporting. Their department regulates and advises on the government’s public procurement process, but They are two years behind on their reports, in part because of their paper-based process for collecting data. NPPA proposed a centralized database that would allow them to publish more up-to-date reports and conduct more robust data analysis, enabling them to provide other departments with more evidence-based findings for better policy interventions. Since their reports would be both more timely and credible, this could both increase procurement officers’ compliance with NPPA regulations and result in better services for citizens.  

Team NPPA with a cheque for $30,000 

DSTI will continue to work with the winning teams by providing six months of technical support, including; feedback on teams’ progress, technical advice on product design and development, physical space to meet, and connections and introductions to other funding sources. 

DSTI CIO, Michala Mackay expressed that, “the governance innovation bootcamp could not have come at a better time. Instilling trust in public sector service delivery is a priority and what better way to achieve this than digitising processes and procedures.  Gratitude goes to the leadership and members of all the participating entities. To our partners at the MIT Gov lab, we say thank you for being part of Sierra Leone’s digital transformation.”

Thank you to our  media partners Africell, who have been of tremendous support. Together we are makers of history. 

Photo credit: Office of the Vice President and Africell Sierra Leone

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The UNDP Accelerator deep dives with Agriculture Innovators 

As part of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation’s commitment to strengthen Sierra Leone’s tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem and ongoing partnership with the UNDP Accelerator Lab, a team of technical specialists from DSTI, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Njala and Limkokwing Universities joined the UNDP Accelerator Lab to launch a two- day collective deep-dive mission into proposed agricultural innovations.  

The mission’s objective was to bring together a unique mix of technical experts to thoroughly examine the presented solutions developed by young innovators. Drawn from their wealth of experience in diverse related fields of study, ranging from Agriculture and Agro-tech to design thinking and entrepreneurship, they set about to collectively design two solution-fit experiments. Identify required data to be collected and outline possible result measurement indicators guided by the UNDP Accelerator Lab Experimentation Tool Kit. 

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To give insight and set the stage for the two-day Collective Intelligence session, a detailed presentation about the UNDP Accelerator Lab was delivered by the UNDP Team followed by a brief video summarizing the impact and achievements made within the 18 months of the Lab’s existence.  The strategic role that the Accelerator Lab Team plays within the Innovation and Digitization ecosystem were further amplified by subsequent presenters who cited the groundbreaking influences these experiments will bring about.  

The first solution that was examined on day 1 was, Deep Water Culture Hydroponics. 

Hydroponics is a type of horticulture that involves cultivating crops without soil using mineral nutrients in an aqueous solution. Samuel Miatta, a young innovator from Bo who from a university lecture became keen in understanding hydroponics agriculture.  Samuel plans to revolutionise and restore urban farming using greenhouses to provide a year-round supply of some seasonal fruits and vegetables to enhance daily dietary needs and meet the needs of a competitive market and consumer demands. He presented a prototype of an enclosed soilless unit where cucumber is currently being cultivated.   

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He further expressed that, “having such collaborative and interactive space for constructive feedback to be provided by industry experts motivates me to continue pursuing my passion for innovative solutions in the agricultural sector.” 

The next solution that was examined on day 2 was a locally built poultry hatchery, presented by another young and promising innovator, Martin Dainbaquee from Kono District. Statistics shows that 85% of local poultry farmers import day-old chicks because there is no known functioning hatchery in-country. This situation was made worse by the C19 pandemic travel restrictions, as a result most poultry farmers ran out of stock significant decline in the local production of eggs.  

Faced with this challenge Martin and his friends decided to design and build a prototype of the unit that was presented to the panel. Main features of the hatchery are incubator loading tray, temperature and humidity controllers, auto-regulated egg turning switch, egg testing and brooding areas.  

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Martin envisions that in the long run, his team can start manufacturing low-cost eco-friendly Hatchery Units to reduce the cost local farmers incur to import day-old chicks.  

This Agriculture deep dive forms part of a string of similar sessions to be held in Energy, Water Management and Hygiene planned for 2021, as the UNDP Accelerator Lab team continues to expand the Country Office portfolio of experiments. The hydroponics and hatchery experiments will start in July 2021, and we hope to learn more about the outcomes of each experiment and share this knowledge with a wider national and international audience. From the learnings, the solutions can either be recommended for growth investments or redesigned depending on the outcome. 

In the coming years, Sierra Leone stands to reap the rewards from radical but result-based innovation currently being invested in across the spectrum. Hence why the UNDP Accelerator Lab continues to identify and support local solutions and innovators, while promoting strategic partnerships, with the aim of developing a conducive ecosystem. The accelerator lab plans to continue to develop initiatives where state and non-state actors flourish in their respective spheres of influence, while contributing towards attaining collective national socio-economic objectives.  

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DSTI conducts Aerial Survey on 923 acres of land at Njala University

The Agricultural sector is crucial to the Sierra Leonean economy, it not only accounts for an estimated 60.7% of the GDP but engages around two-thirds of the national labour force, according to World Bank national accounts data. 

The country boasts of approximately 5.4 million hectares of arable agricultural land, 75% of which is available for rapid cultivation. With an average rainfall of roughly 3,800mm per year, the country is one of the most humid areas in Africa.

The 11-year civil conflict now in its past,  destroyed critical agro-based infrastructure which saw statistics on food security plummet considerably; the agricultural sector has been constrained by several factors, including lack of improved inputs, shortage of skilled labour, and post-harvest losses. These constraints were further worsened by recurrent climatic shocks, flooding and erratic precipitation patterns during the seasonal rains. These shocks have increased not only short-term hunger but also compromised the resilience of poor households.

The GoSL has developed an 8 Trillion Leone National Agricultural Transformation Policy 2019- 2023 (NAT 2023) strategy. NAT 2023  aims to address the extant difficulties and put agriculture at the centre of Sierra Leone’s economic and human capital development.

In an effort to supplement this national response to these underlying challenges, Track Your Build (TYB) was contracted to conduct an Aerial Survey for the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation on behalf of Njala University. 

Mr. Thomas T. Songu, ICT Director at Njala University stated that, “Sierra Leone’s population is increasing rapidly, requiring the farming sector to grow exponentially to sustain national development. Luckily, a new relationship has formed between technology and agriculture. Drones and precision agriculture are helping farmers increase food production, protect their crops and protect themselves from poverty. To realise this technological innovation, DSTI and NU are collaborating to use drone and precision agriculture to benefit Sierra Leone: using drones and UAVs to improve land registration process; provide farmers with aerial view of their crops, allowing them to manage them better and notice changes; provide data that helps farmers take inventory of their crops and estimate crop yields faster, and changing the schema of crop insurance.”

The data captured through a drone was used for Aerial Photogrammetry to produce a Topographical Survey as well as an NDVI Survey of a Researchers Farm site at the Njala Mokonde Campus, Moyamba District. Photogrammetry is the science of collecting physical information from photos, often aerial images captured by drones, and combining enough pictures of the same feature. 

Surveying and GIS professionals use drone photogrammetry, along with accurate GPS data, to create 3D maps and models for use in construction, waste management, mining, and aggregated workflows.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is a measure of the state of plant health, based on how the plant reflects light at certain frequencies. 

TYB mapped out a total of 932 acres in 4 hours, collected 7 Ground Control Points and processed a total of 517 pictures.

Delivering an appraisal of the exercise DSTI’s COO and Director, Michala Mackay, said “This is part of the groundbreaking Human Capital Development Incubator work ongoing at DSTI. The HCDI was set up to design and pilot data-driven solutions, accelerating impactful investments to Sierra Leone’s human capital portfolio. It is focused on driving sustainable innovations in the education, health and agriculture sectors using a robust solution-based three step strategy”

The scaling up of this intervention has the latent capacity to benefit framers in more ways than one. To start with, It offers potential benefits of increased yields, reduced operating costs and superior environmental risk management. Additional benefits include; improved crop maturity and quality, higher tolerance to disease and pest damage, and increased growth, collected data will provide farmers with detailed and accurate information about areas of fertiliser application. 

All of these inherent benefits would encourage a transition from subsistence to commercial and mechanised farming markedly resulting in national food security.

Immersed in thoughts of never ending possibilities, I was promptly stung back into reality when our vehicle alighted at my stop, bringing to an end an all but fun trip working with drones, making discoveries and enjoying the simple thrills of life in the provinces.

As DSTI 4AIR lead, David Manley peered out the window, as the vehicle raced along the highway to Freetown, it was evident that the DSTI soil data collection exercise at Njala University had on all accounts been eventful and riveting, but more importantly, productive. The vast fields of green, silently chiming the untapped potential of bountiful harvests hinted at the colourful prospect of food security for every Sierra Leonean.

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DSTI signs an MoU with 10 Academy to implement the 4IR for All Project

Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), has signed an MoU with a not-for-profit community-owned initiative, 10 Academy to implement the 4IR for All (4IR4A) project.

The 4IR for All project, led by 10 Academy, will be a coalition of African universities and TVET institutions, global industry, individual young Africans, and governmental agencies working together to reach its goals. 4IR4A will link higher African education institutions and create a platform to train and inspire all interested young Africans to get skills for the 4th IR, starting with data science and growing to include other fields including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, bio-engineering, blockchain, quantum computing and others.

This is in line with the Government of Sierra Leone’s interventions in digital learning as a response to the COVID interruptions. Those e-learning initiatives have been rolled out to support remote learning in schools and universities as well as provide opportunities to upscale and prepare the current workforce to acquire the requisite skillsets for roles during and post-COVID. Other activities have included the launch of the first African Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative which offered every Sierra Leonean the opportunity to learn and earn a certification in over 4000 courses across 400 specializations in in-demand and industry-ready skills. In November 2020, DSTI also launched the Digital Foundation for Public Service Program in partnership with EDACY which provided an opportunity for 250 employees in the public sector to acquire digital skills and mindsets.

The 4IR4A includes three key activities:

● Massively parallel training through higher educational institutions and community hubs, reaching motivated young Africans through guest talks, monthly trainings and access to specialized self-teaching content

● Customized training of academics and PhD students, enabling 4IR to be integrated into research work and for educational curricula to be updated

● Intensive training of the highest potential young people, leading directly to job placement in data science and other 4th IR careers.

The project will provide:

A curated and updated list of self-teaching resources, for students to learn from

Monthly teaching-learning challenges, each an end-to-end industry-style data science project, with as many as possible developed using real data, with tutors and support available to help learners progress

Monthly (or more) guest talks from industry

The next batch of training starts 12 July 2021 and previous batches saw 75% of trainees placed into work within 6 months, working for companies around the world. 40% of training spots are for women. No application fee, and you only pay it forward once you are getting paid. To apply and get more information, please access the link 10academy.org/train. Applications close 13 June 2021

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How DSTI is transforming Governance with one public servant, within one institution and for one citizen at a time

Written by Dr. David Moinina Sengeh

Over the next two weeks, six Ministries, Departments and Agencies, DSTI, an embedded researcher and an awesome volunteer facilitator/researcher/civic tech expert, my wife, Kate Krontiris are going to be solving critical challenges that will transform the lives of citizens done through an MIT GOV/LAB custom-developed course for Sierra Leone.

Below are the MDAs and their initial problems/solutions.

National Minerals Agency: Implement mineral processing laboratory information management system

Ministry of Transport and Aviation: Reliable vehicle data systems to support the new government fleet policy

National Revenue Authority: Digitalisation of taxpayer engagement

Office of the Administrator General: Digitalisation of land records for enhanced citizen access

National Public Procurement Authority: Improving communication between NPPA and MDAs for improved procurement

Teaching Service Commission: Teacher management record and enhanced service delivery for efficient performance management

This latest high-level partnership between DSTI and MIT and local partners like Africell is valued at about $100,000 of which $80,000 will go towards problem solving directly. At least two of the six teams will win up to $40,000 to implement their ideas.

This Bootcamp also builds on The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation – DSTI ‘s strategic digital skills development of government employees including the Coursera Workforce Recovery program (which targetted 50,000 participants) and the eDACY Digital Foundation for Public Services (250 participants).

Our vision at DSTI was to support delivery of the Government’s National Development Plan and to strengthen Sierra Leone’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. On both of these, we are happy to be transforming Governance while building human capacity at all levels one person, one institution and one life at a time.

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Redefining Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation Education At the University of Sierra Leone

15th May 2021- 

Mornings on the slopes of Mount Aureol are unlike any other; the chilled breeze and tranquil quietness are broken only by chirping birds, honking cars and the chatter of commuting students. These serene plains are home to the oldest western-style university in West Africa Africa. The Fourah Bay College (FBC), was founded in 1827 and for almost 200 years, it has been the epicentre of higher education and advanced learning in Sierra Leone.Despite its illustrious heritage   in the aftermath of an 11-year civil conflict which provoked a downward spiral in the type and quality of education, many efforts are being made to transform learning outcomes for students. .

In August 2018, H.E President Julius Maada Bio launched the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Program and allocated 21% of the national budget to fulfil the government’s flagship commitment to boost educational standards nationwide. This undertaking promises to directly benefit 2.6 million school children , who make up approximately 37% of Sierra Leone’s population. These and other developments demonstrate that there is indeed the political will to effect inclusive and  radical reforms in education. Further engagements at the Technical and Higher Education level have seen the government increase the salary of university lecturers and student hostels and learning environments have been upgraded by the government. New departments of Mining Engineering and Architecture have been established at FBC as the government promotes human capital development relevant to the 21st Century. 

Much has changed at Mount Aureol since the gloomy days of the early post-conflict years; there is even an unfamiliar spectacle of DSTI’s CIO Dr David Moinina Sengeh, lecturing close to hundred students in a final year (honors). While Dr. Sengeh serves as the Minister of Basic Education, he is one of the young, dynamic and spirited academics rewriting the narrative in post-secondary education. The course he is currently lecturing is titled Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program (FENG 510).

Dr. Sengeh believes that FENG 510 has the potential to make meaningful contributions to Sierra Leone’s Human Capital Development Agenda through a robust course model designed to equip students to rethink business models that are more impactful, sustainable, and connected to other sectors of the economy such as Poverty Reduction, Education, Health and Agriculture.

FENG 510 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 entrepreneurship strategies. However, the biggest value is that the course is hands-on. Students will develop and present prototypes accompanied by detailed business plans as part of the course – Dr David Sengeh.

Students currently enrolled in the course believe it raises crucial awareness, inspires and stimulates their interests as budding engineers to embark on careers focused on harnessing the culture of upscaling technologies to develop creative entrepreneurship schemes.

Mr Emmanuel Gaima, a mechanical engineering student, said; 

“The FENG 510 program presents a unique opportunity for Sierra Leone to leapfrog in its efforts to cultivate a sustainable nation-building drive. Dr. Sengeh is making great strides in this direction.  It is a surreal experience to be taught by Dr. Sengeh. He is cheerful, welcoming and above all highly intelligent. Bearing witness to what he has accomplished both academically and as a high-level government official  is a wake-up call to us as youths and future engineers, not merely to be spectators or observers in the struggle for national development but to be active participants and proponents of it.”

Miss Afanwi Dobgima, a student who hopes to specialise in electrical engineering, also expressed identical sentiments;

I think FENG 510 is an enlightening and mind-blowing class. Dr Sengeh has helped me to gain a better understanding of how we can co-opt technology and

entrepreneurship to improve Human Capital significantly. We have discussed at length the limitations of engaging technology here, two of which are inadequate electricity supply and data availability and affordability. As Engineering students, he challenges us to do more to tackle these issues. That being said, leveraging tech is a step-by-step process. With all hands on deck, we can help Sierra Leone achieve the best version of itself. These are some of the thoughts I always leave the classroom with. 

With such enthusiasm and appetite for success, Dr. Sengeh is convinced that students in the FENG 510 program are uniquely positioned to make cutting-edge interventions across multiple sectors in the coming years as they will possess the requisite toolkits to tackle existing drawbacks preventing the integration of emerging tech for national development. For Instance, in the Agricultural sector, farmers can leverage the Internet of Things to optimise productivity and reduce waste through data-driven “precision farming” techniques. Also, with numerous health challenges exacerbated by climate change, limited physical infrastructure, and a lack of qualified professionals, technology can help mitigate these threats and build sustainable health care systems.

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DSTI Holds First Public Legislative Consultation with Partners and Stakeholders.

As citizens, partners and stakeholders converged at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel’s conference room, it was evident that inclusive governance and administrative efficiency was the theme at DSTI’s first Public Consultation Workshop; which brought partners together for initial discussions on the drafting of legislation for the establishment and operation of DSTI as a statutory body in Sierra Leone.

Before the discussions opened, DSTI’s CIO and Minister of Basic Education, Dr David Sengeh, encouraged participants to exhibit raw energy and enthusiasm during the deliberations.

The event commenced with discussions, and statements by several DSTI partners such as Tony Blair Institute (TBI), UNICEF, Massachusett Institute of Technology (MIT) Gov Lab, Coursera for Government, and the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), based on projects that seek to drive national development. This set the tone for meaningful exchange between participants and created a conducive space for sharing views and suggestions on DSTI’s proposed structure, functions and powers to be captured in the draft bill which is considered an integral part of the consultative process.

Director of Innovation at Unicef Sierra Leone, Shane O’ Connor stated that ‘‘UNICEF’s continued partnership and support will always be available for DSTI’s quality service delivery agenda’’.

The consultation included representatives from public and private sector partners and MDAs supported by DSTI, such as Law Reform Commission, National Telecommunication (NATCOM), Sierra Leoneans in Tech, Orange SL, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Tony Blair Institution ( TBI), Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Ministry of Finance (MOF), National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD), and Human Resource Management Office (HRMO).

During his presentation, the Head of Project Design and Delivery, PJ Cole, described DSTI projects and the different local and international partnerships. He further emphasized the three core methods of delivery (Human-Centred Design, Fractal Problem Solving and Innovative Technical solutions), and the National Innovation and Digital Strategy (NIDS) which continues to cushion DSTI’s work in influencing and redefining governance interventions across multiple sectors. 

Presentations on the projects implemented at DSTI were done by, States Counsel and Project Coordinator, Salima Bah, Project coordinator, Bineta Diop, and 4IR Lead, David Manley respectively. 

The highlight of the event was a full hour breakout session, which saw participants divided into two groups charged with the responsibility of making proposals and suggestions on (i) the structure and (ii) the functions/powers & regulations upon which DSTI would be established and operated by law and develop constructive recommendations which will influence and reflect in the contents of the DSTI legislation.

The event ended with presentations from the breakout session group leads and sharing insights on the deliberations from their respective groups. During one of the presentations, Tony Blair Institute Technical Consultant, Nomtha Sithole, expressed that “DSTI needs to be the institution that designs and incubates cross-department initiatives and ideas to optimise governance efficiency.” This was also echoed by various groups that DSTI should provide oversight, optimise compliance ratio and set standards for implementation of tech solutions and data systems across all MDAs in Sierra Leone.

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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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