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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 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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