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The secrets of scientific writing unlocked at DSTI workshop at Fourah Bay College

The journey to becoming a published author just got a little easier for researchers and academics in Sierra Leone. Over 44 of the nation’s smartest minds participated in Dr. Elaine Nsoesie’s public lecture on writing and publishing in scientific journals at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Dr. Nsoesie, who is a Professor of Global Health at Boston University School of Public Health, hosted the lecture as part of her fellowship at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI).

Dr. Elaine Nsoesie, Professor of Global Health, Boston University, and Research Fellow at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation

“Scientific writing communicates a scientific idea or finding,” said Dr. Nsoesie.

“So maybe you have done research on a specific topic, for example, diabetes in Freetown and you want to write about what you found in your research. You can write your findings and publish them in a scientific journal. What we covered here today is the process of making that happen.”

A lot of ingenious work has been produced in Sierra Leone, but the local and international communities do not get to learn about them.

“As researchers, we often lack the writing skills to communicate our methodology and findings in scientific papers,” said Kumba Musa, a data scientist at DSTI who participated in the lecture.

Excellent scientific writing is clear, simple, impartial, logical, accurate, and objective. It is often technical and intended for others in a scientific field or discipline to learn something new. The scientific writing workshop taught participants how to write and publish a scientific paper.

Publishing in international journals and publications make Sierra Leone known for its contributions to global science. Notable Sierra Leonean scientist, Dr. Davidson Nicol published groundbreaking discoveries on the use of insulin for the treatment of diabetes. DSTI supports research and innovation in academia; providing opportunities that make it easier for local scientists to have their works published is key to that mission.

“In Sierra Leone, we are a bit lacking in terms of research writing, but with this training, I believe we can improve our capacity to do research,” said Mariama Lahai, a researcher at Connaught Hospital who attended the workshop. Like Dr. Nicol, Lahai’s research is also on diabetes.

“I’m looking at the prevalence of depression amongst patients with Type 2 diabetes. I collect data from our weekly counseling sessions with patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension”.

Another workshop participant said the lecture would impact their work is a laboratory technician and researcher from the University of Makeni.

“This workshop will help me write a good dissertation in my final year,” said Yusif Osman Sheriff.

He said that he is already working on research that he hopes to publish before the end of the year. He and Lahai were amongst 102 people who applied to attend the scientific writing workshop. Half of the best applicants were chosen and of those 44 attended.

DSTI has formed partnerships with international institutions of higher learning to create opportunities that support and strengthen the ecosystem for scientific research and academia in Sierra Leone. These have included hands-on learning hackathons on artificial intelligence and workshops for professors, students, academics, and researchers. This scientific research writing workshop was supported and done in collaboration with the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone.

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Sierra Leone introduces new e-Justice tool to improve rural courts system

June 17, 2019 –  Freetown, Sierra Leone: An e-Justice tool that uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) developed at The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) digitizes local courts and cases in Sierra Leone. E-Justice is the use of technology to improve transparency and efficiency for wider access to justice.

Developers at DSTI have created an integrated GIS platform that allows citizens and lawmakers to better understand national data on population, education, health, water, financial institutions, communication-related assets, and access to justice.

A prototype of the integrated GIS tool was used to visualize, and digitally map the geographic locations of  Sierra Leone’s local courts. Henry Musa Kpaka, Ph.D., London School of Economics (LSE), collected the geospatial court data while DSTI provided the technical and statistical support needed to analyze the data for policymaking. DSTI welcomes and encourages all researchers and academics to submit data that will enhance the GIS portal.

Geospatial mapping of Sierra Leone’s local courts system on the GIS Platform

Reviewing the geospatial data presented by the team, Professor David Francis, Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister, who hosted the meeting at State House said that improved access to justice and judicial reform would strengthen Sierra Leone’s democracy.

“H.E the President is committed to ensuring that our justice system is impartial and accessible to every Sierra Leonean, ” said Professor Francis.

”A justice sector that is transparent, coherent, robust and most importantly developed on the principle of dialogue amongst government, citizens, communities, justice delivery stakeholders and our development partners is what will best serve Sierra Leone.”

The geospatial mapping of the local courts is the first nationwide digitization of the geographic locations of 241 local courts in 149 chiefdoms over the past decade in rural Sierra Leone. Upon deployment of the GIS portal, citizens and policymakers will be able to log in to locate any court and to gain a better understanding of the nature and type of disputes at the provincial level. Although the local courts were established in 1963 to adjudicate over land and civil disagreements, there has been limited oversight of the courts by the Judiciary.

“In the past, we relied on data that was not initiated by the government,” said Dr. Priscilla Schwartz, Sierra Leone’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The Attorney General said that while the local courts offer the nation’s most vulnerable access to justice, the Judiciary did not have the tools to explore the nature of dispute resolution on a national scale until now.

“Thanks to DSTI, we have credible government-owned data to assist with the digitization of Sierra Leone’s justice sector.”

Mr. Kpaka, a Ph.D. candidate at the LSE, explored several questions related to costs to access to the courts, distance to the courts, record keeping, legal capacity, efficiency, and cultural attitudes around dispute resolution. He found that across Sierra Leone, locals do not access justice through the courts because of mistrust.

“There are some places where there are court buildings, but when you go there they will say no this hasn’t been working for over five years,” said Kapka.

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) in the Office of the President has a mission to use science, technology, and innovation to support the government’s National Development Plan. DSTI has been pioneering the use of state-of-the-art tools in service of its strategic pillar linked to data analytics for decision making. While scientists at DSTI have been the core of this transformative use of data analytics across government, they work closely with partners in and out of government.

“The GIS portal takes data like what we received from Mr. Kpaka, maps and visualizes it into an accessible format that can be used to inform policy,” said Glenna Wilson, Data Engineer, and GIS Portal Technical Lead at DSTI.

“We collect data from all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. Then we write the programs to analyze the data using tools like Python. Our ultimate goal is to provide the technology to allow everyone to access and understand  data to enable better decision-making from the central government to Sierra Leonean citizens at the last mile.”

Media Enquiries

DSTI Media:  +232 76 403103 / media@dsti.gov.sl

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Njala University in Sierra Leone leads the way in preparing students for 21st Century jobs

Njala University is taking a new approach to learning with a focus on technology and innovation in Sierra Leone. Leaders at the university say that if graduates do not have the skills to match emerging job market opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the institution would be failing its students and not be fit for purpose.   

At an academic seminar at the University’s Mokonde campus, Dr. Maurice Sesay, Acting Head of Physics & Computer Science laid out a plan for how computational thinking, connectivity, and coding can be used to prepare students for 21st Century jobs. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Sierra Leone’s youth unemployment rate is 70% with some 800,000 young people looking for jobs at any given time.  

Dr. Maurice Sesay, Acting Head of Physics & Computer Science (l) and Professor Abdullah Mansaray, Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Nuala University hold up official membership certification to the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (JWEL)

“We need to bridge the gap between the university and the workforce so that the curriculum can be designed to make students more marketable,” said Dr. Sesay.

Dr. Sesay who recently returned from a week-long hands-on workshop in April at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston is the focal point for Njala’s membership at the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) at MIT. The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) at the Office of the President appointed Njala University to be Sierra Leone’s beneficiary into the J-WEL program because it is the nation’s leading educational institution for STEM with a robust research program in Computer Science and technical postgraduate education.  DSTI, whose mandate is to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation, has an ongoing research and knowledge-sharing relationship with MIT that includes forging partnerships between academic institutions in Sierra Leone and MIT.

J-WEL is an incubator for change which “aims to spark a global renaissance in education for all learners, by leveraging MIT’s resources to convene a global community of collaborators for sustainable, high-impact transformation in education through research, policy, pedagogy, and practice.” J-WEL membership includes other higher and technical institutions from Asia, South America, Europe, and Africa.

Njala’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Joseph Sherman-Kamara said that DSTI’s support through J-WEL would allow the institution to harness the tools needed to make graduates more employable.

“Higher education systems around the world are undergoing a tremendous transformation in the face of unpredictable circumstances in the job market due to rapid advancements,” said Dr. Sherman-Kamara.

The 21st Century technological revolution, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, means that mechanized jobs are giving way to automation; creating a demand for STEM skills,  computing, and data science. Rapid prototyping, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and social media marketing are some of the 20 fastest growing skills in the world. Those who cannot learn the language of computing will be left behind.

“Coding is just a language; everyone can code. The best students, the most marketable, will be those who can speak spoken languages as well as computer languages like python,” said Dr. Sesay.

In attendance at the Seminar were higher education administrators from across Sierra Leone including the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Njala University, the Vice Chancellor of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology, and other representatives from Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema, and Milton Margai College of Education and Technology.  

At the end of the Seminar by Dr. Maurice Sesay, Njala and DSTI signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, said that Njala has demonstrated tremendous leadership in the manner in which it had embraced technology. The school has not only made ICT compulsory for all incoming students, but Njala also offers free open WIFI on campus (a first in the nation), allowing instant connectivity and public access.

Dr. Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI and Professor Abdullah Mansaray, Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Njala University sign MoU to solidify collaboration. 

“In terms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; digital biology, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, you’re talking about the right things to make Njala not just a leader in Sierra Leone, or the continent, but for Njala to compete globally,” said Dr. Sengeh.

He challenged the university’s administration to go beyond making computer science compulsory to making coding as essential a part of the curriculum as English and Mathematics. Moreover, to the students, he encouraged each one to make it a priority to solve the problems with technology affecting students on campus.

“It is our responsibility as students, as learners, to create the solutions that we need,” said Dr. Sengeh during a roundtable with a cross section of students.

To further support learning, and problem-solving at Njala University, Dr. Sengeh on behalf of the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation donated a 3D Printer and materials to the university- making it the first institution in Sierra Leone outside of the Office of the President to own 3D printing technology.

At the launch of DSTI last year, President Bio challenged Sierra Leoneans to think big, to be innovative, and to change to meet the demands of the world; a message which resonated with the faculty at Njala, who are led by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abdullah Mansaray.

“If we are to make meaningful contributions to national development, we have to innovate, we have to redesign and restructure the entire higher education sector,” said Professor Mansaray.

Njala University is re-engineering itself from the top down to create an academic ecosystem where research, problem-solving, and innovation can thrive.

“We plan to establish an innovation laboratory, and for that, we need material and financial support,” said Professor Mansaray.

“But the most important of what we need is the intellectual backstopping that Dr. Sengeh and his team {DSTI} will be providing us.”

 

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Sierra Leone takes serious steps towards e-Governance and Digitization

When the Government of Sierra Leone launched the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) last year, it started its journey to transform Sierra Leone into a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. DSTI has since developed credible partnerships with global leaders in academia, advanced research organizations, and international government entities towards that vision. In February 2019, DSTI signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with eGovernment Academy to establish technical collaboration on e-governance for public service delivery and administration.

This week (May 6-10th, 2019), a team of senior officials from the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has completed a week-long study tour at the e-Governance Academy (eGA) of Estonia to learn best practices that will inform and shape Sierra Leone’s e-governance and digitization strategy.  Estonia began its journey to digital transformation over two decades ago and are today a world leader for e-governance, e-democracy, and national cybersecurity. It is where government decision-makers go to experience “smart, sustainable, and effective” governance programmes at work.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr. Priscilla Schwartz led Sierra Leone’s delegation to the eGA along with Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, Office of the President. Also on the study tour was the Head of ICT Committee of the Sierra Leone Parliament; Deputy Commissioner General, National Revenue Authority; Deputy Governor, Bank of Sierra Leone, and senior representatives from the Ministry of Information and Communication, National Telecommunications Commission, and the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Senior Members of Sierra Leone’s delegation to Estonia’s eGA

The officials from Sierra Leone met their counterparts in Estonia to see digitization and e-governance first-hand and successfully implemented to scale. Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Sengeh engaged with the Minister of Justice and Estonia’s Chief Information Officer respectively. The study tour also included working sessions at the Office of the Prime Minister, the Parliament of Estonia, the Tax and Customs bureau and a visit to the Tallinn Technical University. These interactive engagements showed how laws, policies and technological infrastructure lay the framework for effective e-Governance.

A year ago President Julius Maada Bio established DSTI to harness science, technology, and innovation to effectively and efficiently deliver on its national development plan. This visit demonstrates GoSL’s commitment to harnessing technology for effective and efficient service delivery to its citizens.

Some key e-governance activities so far at DSTI include;  a National Financial Data Architecture with Ministry of Finance, and an integrated geographic information system that maps government services and infrastructure. DSTI has also created an interactive visualization tool to support decision makers in exploring the Annual School Survey data in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and UNICEF.

This study tour will enhance the ongoing partnership between various Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Academic Institutions, private sector, donors and bilateral partners.

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DSTI Sierra Leone to open Innovation Hub thanks to new MoU with IPAM

The University of Sierra Leone’s Institute of Public Administration & Management (IPAM) and the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) have agreed to create an InnovationHub. Representatives of the two institutions signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding to shared knowledge, and support local innovation and entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone. IPAM has allocated the fifth floor of its new building for the purposes of the innovation hub. Under the agreement, DSTI will organize educational and social programs and activities that will strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sierra Leone. Speaking at the signing of the MoU Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Nonie said that DSTI and IPAM had already begun to share knowledge and resources as of last year. Through the relationship with DSTI, IPAM has been able to send faculty to MIT, a global leader for academic research and innovation. “It is a dream come true,” said the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nonie. Noting that the Hub will offer new opportunities for learning and growth for IPAM students and Faculty. He thanked Dr. David Sengeh for initiating the partnership between DSTI and IPAM. “We hope this starts as an innovation hub, for IPAM, and university students but also for people within the ecosystem, ” said Dr. Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI.

Students at IPAM’s Library (c) Facebook (U-SL IPAM)

“This will be a space for people to learn state-of-the-art tools like Human-centered design (HCD), business models, business process mapping, and hands-on learning. It is to take the curriculum, that’s at IPAM, the excellence in entrepreneurship and business and Administration and put it into practice.” With this partnership, DSTI will bring hands-on learning back to students and create a space for students to seed ideas and develop prototypes. The hub is novel because it fosters collaboration between government, academia, the private sector, and local and international partners. Students from MIT and researchers from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be learning and developing technological solutions in partnership with students and entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone. “In a couple of years, people will be talking about IPAM, as a place where technology, computer science, hands-on learning happens with business management and entrepreneurship in the same way that they talk about MIT, ” said Dr. Sengeh.  
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Njala University student writes code for his country: how an intern’s grit earned him a role in the Office of the President

Sierra Leone’s Office of the President (OtP) will soon launch a new online invitation platform that will help the government manage and respond to invitations for President Maada Bio. The development of this OtP Event Invitation system was led by Foday S.N. Kamara, a 25-year-old intern at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI).

Foday, a final year Njala University student was the first intern to join DSTI when the office was commissioned last year. He says that it was the 2003 film, “The Italian Job”, that sparked his interest in coding and algorithms. In one epic scene in the movie, Actor Seth Green’s character Lyle writes code to develop a new algorithm to override the traffic light system in LA to allow his crew to make a getaway after a major heist. This scene made Foday wonder what else he could do with algorithms. He borrowed books from a relative and taught himself to code. That was 16 years ago. Today, he is a final year Computer Science & Information Technology student at Njala passionate about writing code to support his country’s digitization efforts.

Before he joined DSTI, Foday had been developing an early warning SMS disaster response system to alert citizens of emergencies. In 2017 a mudslide, caused by heavy rains, and deforestation killed over 1000 Sierra Leoneans in just one day. That catastrophe inspired him to develop a solution that would reduce casualties during emergencies. Data for decision making, effective service delivery and citizen engagement are part of DSTI’s key strategic pillars.  Citizens need digital services that will enhance their lives and improve interaction with government.

When given the opportunity, he immersed himself and made a home at DSTI. Although just an intern, his commitment and attitude to problem-solving made him the Directorate’s first ever employee of the month in January. He was part of a team of scientists that are developing a prototype fleet management system that will allow the government to keep better manage its vehicles. Last year DSTI scientists revealed that illegal transfers of vehicles cost the state over $1 million dollars.

DSTI staff often play football, make music and dance #ShakuShaku together in the office. Yet Foday reflects that problem-solving sessions with Dr. David Sengeh, DSTI’s Chief Innovation Officer will be most memorable of his time at DSTI;  

“Most times when we have difficulties we complain. We say, ‘doc I’ve tried everything but its not working’. He’ll just tell you that you need to fix it, you should fix it. Several times we asked the same questions and get the same response. It’s fun. I thought why should we be asking , why can’t we get it done before we complain.”

Over the last six months since its launch, DSTI has trained several interns from Sierra Leone’s universities and high schools. Monjama Alpha, the top Physics and Engineering first year student at Fourah Bay College; Joseph Jawa Kebbie, a high school graduate from Christ the King’s College in Bo, and several students from Institute of Public Administration (IPAM) have learned to code and build systems alongside full time staff. DSTI offers these kinds of internships, fellowships, and externships for students, post-grads, and professionals who want to build the solutions that will transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation.

For more information about opportunities at DSTI please contact us.

Check out Foday’s story in our first podcast from the lab.

 

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DSTI Sierra Leone signs a new partnership with e-Governance Academy of Estonia

The Government of Sierra Leone wants to use technology to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation; in this regard, its Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI Sierra Leone) has secured a new partnership with the e-Governance Academy of Estonia (eGA). The eGA is a global leader for digital transformation for central and local governments.   DSTI Sierra Leone and eGA have signed a three-year MoU to establish technical collaboration on e-governance for public service delivery and administration in Sierra Leone. “Estonia is a world leader in e-governance and they keep innovating”, said Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. David Sengeh. “Sierra Leone is a nation seeking to lead in public service delivery for everyone including those on the edge: the connected and unconnected, and the educated and uneducated. That is why I am most excited about this partnership. We will learn and build together and share back the lessons with the world.”

Officials from Sierra Leone and Estonia at a bilateral session at the EU-AU Meeting for African Foreign Ministers in Brussels – Jan 2019.

Jointly, DSTI Sierra Leone and eGA will develop new policies and frameworks particularly around digital identity, digital payments, and government cloud solutions. Specifically, Sierra Leone will benefit from capacity building in areas of e-governance for public officials, public service delivery and citizen engagement. DSTI Sierra Leone’s vision is to “use science, technology, and innovation to support the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver on its national development plan effectively and efficiently.” While eGA’s mandate is to “create and transfer knowledge and best practice in the area of digital transformation: e-governance, e-democracy, and national cybersecurity” as an independent non-governmental organization. “The e-Governance Academy is proud to be a partner for Sierra Leone in developing e-government,” said Director for Development of eGA, Mr. Hannes Astok. “We can provide world-class expertise based on the e-government success of Estonia as well as our work done in other countries building digital infrastructure, developing cybersecurity and taking the services and operations of local governments to a new digital level. Let’s turn e-government on in Sierra Leone!“ Efforts to strengthen existing ties between the two nations began at the 2018 UN General Assembly, and continued to the recently concluded EU-AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting in Brussels were representatives from both nations engaged on issues of technology and good governance. This partnership will be bolstered when DSTI Sierra Leone participates in the eGA’s “e-Governance Conference 2019: Same goals, different roadmaps” in May. An expert delegation from Estonia will also make a working visit to Sierra Leone. To learn more, please contact Aissatou Diallo from DSTI (aissatou@dsti.gov.sl) and Tiina Viiderfeld (tiina.viiderfeld@ega.ee)
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Sierra Leone’s leading agencies for data, innovation sign MoU for knowledge ​sharing

The Directorate Of Science, Technology, & Innovation (DSTI) has signed a MoU with Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats-SL) to formalize ongoing collaborations on projects of national significance. The two agencies were lauded by the Minister of Planning, and Economic Development (MOPED), Mrs. Nabeela Tunis for combining their expertise for the advancement of the State.  

Dr. David Sengeh (l) CIO, DSTI, Madame Nabeela Tunis, Minister of Planning & Economic Development (MOPED), Prof. Osman Sankoh, Stats-SL, Mr. Robert Chakanda Dep. Minister, (MOPED)

“DSTI and Stats-SL are already implementing terms within the MoU showing their commitment to providing the Ministry of Planning with necessary data to make policies that will have a measurable impact on the lives of Sierra Leonean citizens,” said Mrs. Tunis.   “It is clear that there are minimal overlaps, meaning that the collaboration is efficient. The Ministry of Planning welcomes and supports this partnership.” The MoU is a commitment by both agencies to share information, and knowledge that will strengthen the problem-solving capacity of statisticians and data scientists at both organizations. “I already know this is a true partnership because even before DSTI showed any results using data we shared, they came to us to present the information. We jointly asked research questions and provided input into the analyses, ” said Prof. Osman Sankoh, Sierra Leone’s Statistician General. ”That’s what true partnership is about!”

Prof. Osman Sankoh, Statistician General (l) and colleagues with Dr. David Sengeh (r), Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology & Innovation

The two agencies have made inroads on projects ranging from an integrated national GIS solution to map government services and an interactive education dashboard that will allow policymakers to see how different indicators and facilities affect learning outcomes across the country. Mr. Robert Chakanda, Deputy Minister, MOPED, provided guidance and leadership to DSTI, and Stats-SL to ensure that projects are in line with the national agenda. By sharing data, Stats-SL enables the Data for Decision Making pillar of DSTI Sierra Leone. This partnership also further strengthens the innovation ecosystem across government and international development partners. “This is essentially a Memorandum of Action because DSTI and Stats-SL have already been working together on several projects and developed prototypes together,” said Dr. David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI. “I hope that we continue to share not just data, but also the knowledge that will drive Sierra Leone’s development through action.” President Julius Maada Bio commissioned the  Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation in October this year. One mandate of DSTI is to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation.
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President Bio Launches an “Innovation in Government Incubator” in Sierra Leone

President Bio launched an Innovation in Government Incubator in Sierra Leone over the weekend while in South Africa . President Maada Bio was at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg with other world leaders committed to the Sustainable Development Goals. It was there that the nation’s top Goalkeeper reiterated his commitment to human development and innovation. “We have to first rely on ourselves,” said President Bio to a crowd of sixty thousand Global Citizens at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.    “By investing our African resources in free, quality teaching and learning, we are investing in our human capital and empowering our youth to be the generation that will end poverty in our time.” President Bio also announced that his government had created an Innovation in Government Incubator within the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation. This new initiative was lauded and welcomed by Mr. Mark Suzman, President, Global Policy and Advocacy at the Gates Foundation on the side lines of the Goalkeepers Africa event.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 26: Bill Gates, David Moinina Sengeh and President of Sierra Leone shake hands onstage during the Goalkeepers 2018 Event, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on September 26, 2018 in New York City. Goalkeepers is a multiyear campaign organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dedicated to accelerating progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). The event highlighted the stunning progress in reducing extreme poverty since 1990 and showcased what is possible if the world invests in the health and education of its growing youth populations. PAID COMMERCIAL IMAGE FOR PUBLICITY PURPOSES – FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE.

“We are pleased to support the launch of this project as it is a clear commitment from the government of Sierra Leone to invest in human capital,” said Mr. Suzman. “In prioritizing innovation and human capital, Sierra Leone is in a better position to kick-start its development. This approach can also provide a blueprint for other fast-growing developing countries trying to make the most of their youth boom”. Sierra Leone’s Innovation in Government Incubator (IGI) will be a hub for local start-ups, private, public and academic organizations to collaborate on projects that will help citizens access government services and information more efficiently.  It will also provide an opportunity for young people to participate, innovate and solve challenges in their local communities. “At the Innovation in Government Incubator partners will share data, build models, develop hypotheses and test pilot projects to inform government investments in human capital,” said Dr. Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The ultimate goal of the IGI is to create a space for local talent across all sectors to develop solutions to enhance government service delivery. Technology will give Sierra Leone the edge it needs to accomplish its Sustainable Development Goals.  
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Scientists at DSTI Sierra Leone fight corruption with code

Sierra Leone just took a giant technological leap. Scientists working at a new agency for innovation launched within the Office of the President are using code to fight corruption. Only 3 out of every 100 citizens in this West African nation of 7 million have access to the internet according to 2016 data from the International Telecommunications Union. Although internet access is limited, scientists say one of their ultimate goals is to develop the world’s first government quantum network for data encryption. Code against Corruption The first challenge that scientists at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) took on involved the government’s fleet of vehicles. In March 2018, a new government was elected into office. During the transition period, an estimated 4000 cars were reportedly missing. The President asked scientists at DSTI to solve the problem of the missing vehicles. The team analyzed data from the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) and found that 38 vehicles belonging to the government were re-registered to new owners without authorization. While the majority of these illegal transfers were intra-government, 17 high-end cars were transferred for private and for commercial use. They also discovered that 75% of all such transactions both authorized and unauthorized occurred in the three years leading up to the 2018 elections. The SLRSA has a register of 281, 762 vehicles of which 4,694 belong to the government spanning the last ten years. Despite having all this big data, SLRSA did not have the tools for analysis. To explore exciting questions and develop hypotheses, like what could have happened to 4000 vehicles it requires more big data analytics.  Analysis of big data (big data involves large volumes of datasets that generally need complex analyses) goes beyond the capacity of Excel and summary statistics. Using the existing SLRSA data, the data scientists’ code found that there was a 600% increase in authorized transfers from 2014 to 2015.  Moreover, an additional 560 vehicles changed ownership in the two years before the 2018 elections. These discoveries have been sent to the Anti Corruption Commission to determine what to do next. While the Anti Corruption boss Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala says it is too soon to know what they will do once they have an opportunity to evaluate the SLRSA vehicle data further, DSTI’s work has given his investigators a leg up. “With data like this we know what to request from the target institutions or persons, and with whom to speak,” said Mr. Ben Kaifala. Data means quicker turnaround on investigations. The Anti Corruption Commission now knows the names of individuals both within and outside of the government who have transferred government vehicles. Technology for national development   At the official launch of the Directorate at State House earlier this week, President Bio said that his vision is for the team at DSTI to harness technology for national development. He believes that Sierra Leone can join the likes of Kenya, Mauritius, and Rwanda who have created thriving ecosystems for innovation and technology. “My strategic vision for Science, Technology, and Innovation is not to start producing microchips and competing with the likes of Intel and Samsung just yet,” said President Bio. “We are looking to cultivate science, technology and innovation tools that will be successfully applied to solve our national development problems and improve the quality of life in Sierra Leone.” The President recognized the need for technical capacity thus sort to recruit “the best and brightest” to deliver this vision.  They have been recruited both within Sierra Leone and its diaspora. Guiding the team is Dr. Sengeh who recently engaged with President Bio, and Bill Gates at GoalKeepers 2018 in New York. Dr. Sengeh is Sierra Leone’s first ever Chief Innovation Officer. He was appointed by the President to lead this Directorate. Quantum ambitions “We have everything. Sierra Leone has the enabling environment for tech and innovation to thrive because the President has made it a priority”, said Dr. Sengeh. He says that people need to believe that Sierra Leone with all its problems and stories of gore can produce innovative technological solutions. Those who think that developing countries like Sierra Leone cannot lead the world on innovation need to think again. DSTI scientists already have their sights on doing what no other government has done. The Directorate has announced that it will be the first government agency in the world, to develop an impenetrable quantum encrypted network that will keep state data secure. Quantum is the future of computing; it is next-generation technology for data protection. “We have the technical know-how; our scientists are the best and brightest in their fields. In just four months we’ve worked on solutions from financial data mapping to developing a national education dashboard with UNICEF so that policymakers and donors can identify indicators that affect learning outcomes, performance, and quality education,” said Dr. Sengeh. “We did this with the 2018 national school census that the government recently concluded. We create tools to make the data useful for decision making. So it is not a question of if we are going to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation, it is a question of how soon”.
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    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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