Articles Tagged with

Sierra Leone

Home / Sierra Leone
Blog

10 Things to learn from DSTI and UNICEF’s Hackathon

Over the past decade, companies across industries have digitised their operations and processes. Even now, businesses are employing artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline workflows and supply chains. 

As a result, today’s job seekers require specialised skills to help them stand out from the crowd. While some colleges, universities and training providers have modified or expanded their curriculum to meet the growing demand for digital know-how, many educators struggle to provide the essential skills students need.

In an effort to prepare young tech enthusiasts for tomorrow’s fast-paced digital job market; DSTI and UNICEF have staged a Digital Public Goods Hackathon to bring together young people from different backgrounds to collaborate and build digital solutions in relation to improving online public services.

Here Are 10 Key Takeaways From The DPG Hackathon; 

  1. Increase awareness of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) career options for students.
  1. Contribute to human capital development by targeting 700+ students. 
  1. Improve critical thinking skills for young people venturing into the tech space.
  1. Fostering experiential learning among tech enthusiasts.
  1. Expanding the student’s worldview through extended discussions and Q&A sessions.
  1. Conducting Practical training for students with an introduction to 4AIR skills (data science, software development artificial intelligence, communications in tech, etc.) 
  1. Foster a stronger bond between student DPG champions and DSTI by increasing the awareness of open-sourced environments in Sierra Leone.
  1. Collect data that helps DSTI understand aspects of local culture that stereotype gender roles and prevent young girls from embarking on a career in STEM. 
  1. Encourage students to practicalize theories and engage in brainstorming sessions.  
  1. Help students develop a critical intellect for creative problem-solving.

Digital transformation is already gradually coming into all spheres of life. Every day we feel the importance of remotely accessible and community-friendly public services, which are critical to providing seamless, convenient and transparent services to people, especially for the most vulnerable groups of population.” David Manley, Lead Project Coordinator, DSTI.

What Are DPG’s?

Digital public goods are public goods in the form of open-source software, data sets, AI models, standards or content that are generally free and contribute to sustainable national and international digital development to tackle real-world challenges.

Learn More Here 

Blog

Sierra Leone’s Team Lorem emerge as 1 of 20 country teams to win Generation Unlimited ImaGen Ventures Global Youth Challenge

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Sierra Leone, and the  Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA) is pleased to officially celebrate the young innovators who represented Sierra Leone at the Generation Unlimited imaGen Ventures Global Youth Challenge. Team Lorem competed against 10,000 global submissions from 37 countries and won 15,000 USD in seed money and mentorship for their e-Learning intervention.

The team of three (L-R Abdul Rahim Jalloh, Emmanuel Kamanda & Lovetta Bangura) comprising of 3rd Year students from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, pitched the intervention of the “EASY S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) SERVER’‘. 

The easy stem server is a database server which gives college students access to massive S.T.E.M learning content offline. The intervention received high commendation for its unique business model which laid premium on affordability, reliability, and personalised content curation as its enduring hallmarks.

The announcement which took place at the COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt on the 10th November 2022 was live-streamed at a well-attended event in Freetown. The star-studded audience featured Government Ministers, Students, Civil Society Activists, Private Sector Executives, Representatives from Non- Governmental Organisations,  Journalists and many more.

Speaking on this amazing feat, Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs, commended the participants for making the nation proud on the world stage. He also pledged the government’s commitment to building youth capacity and cementing hard-won gains in youth affairs. He continued by saying that this win is a testament to the fact that the government’s youth-centred agenda is bearing fruits. 

“It is a joy to see young people embracing the wave of opportunity, growth, and progress that technology offers. Interventions of this nature set the tone for a more extensive and robust youth agenda. Congratulations to Team LOREM. We are proud of you.” – Dr. Sulaiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative In Sierra Leone.

“DSTI is grateful for the continued collaboration with UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth Affairs. The Generation Unlimited project aligns with the Government’s flagship Human Capital Development agenda. The success of these young people shows our relenting commitment to transmit the message of hope and development through education for every child in Sierra Leone” – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer,  DSTI & Minister of Basic Education.

After an exciting event, Team Captain, Abdul Rahim Jalloh, was overjoyed;

“I am thrilled to have been part of this transformative experience, especially at a time when Africa longs and thirsts for a generation of creatives. I am very proud of our team, and all we have been able to achieve thus far. Big Thanks To DSTI, UNICEF, GenU, and MoYA. We are very excited for our next chapter.” – said Abdul Rahim Jalloh, Team Lead, LOREM.

Uncategorized

Sierra Leone Launches Three (3)  Digital Learning Hubs (DLH) to Boost Digital Skills Acquisition.

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Sierra Leone, has launched and officially announced the opening of  3 Digital Learning Hub locations; at Fourah Bay College (FBC), Freetown, Ernest Bai Koroma University, Makeni, and the Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema. The opening of the hubs comes as a sequel to the opening of the first hub at Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM)  in November 2021.  

The establishment of the hubs aims to address existing challenges of skills gap for young people within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities. It also aims to boost the acquisition and retention of in-demand skills for young people intending to enter the job market and cultivate improved learning outcomes for the current workforce.

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

The Hub will function on a day-to-day management procedure, and operations will be facilitated by Big Bang World, an organisation with experience in the establishment, management and operation of digital learning centers.

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

The hub at FBC will initially have the eUPSHIFT course available, but will later feature content from HP Life and other organisations.

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation officer, Janice Williams highlighted the progress made on Digital Innovation.

With the launch of these Digital Learning Hubs, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s ReImagine Education agenda. Making digital platforms, like the Learning Passport, and digital content, such as the eUPSHIFT, available in Sierra Leone, we are taking a step towards making digital learning as one of the essential services for every child and young person.”

Echoing the promise of the hub in transforming skills acquisition and overall professional development of citizens is Vice Chancellor of USL, Professor Foday Sahr, 

We salute the efforts of DSTI and Unicef for breathing life into the aspirations of increased workforce development designed to foster job market competitiveness and reduce skills deficit. We are thrilled to host the digital learning hub and we are certain that its use will be maximised to its fullest potential” – Professor Foday Sahr.

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

Blog

SORA Technology joins the support of the Government Of Sierra Leone in quality health care delivery

On December 24th, 2021, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), and Njala University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SORA Technology, to support the government of Sierra Leone’s initiative to improve health care delivery through the use of drone technology, for the delivery of life-saving medical supplies. 

The MoU, titled “ESTABLISHMENT OF MEDICAL DRONE INFRASTRUCTURE IN SIERRA LEONE”,  solidified the common interest in improving health care outcomes, and the use of digital technologies to catapult the country’s human capital development. 

DSTI’s Project Coordinator and 4IR Lead, David Manley, had stressed on collaborating with multiple partners to create enabling environments to seed and test innovations and develop human capacity to effectively engage with these technologies in a Sierra Leone centric way. 

Since the inked MoU, all parties are in discussions geared towards establishing a national Drone and Data Academy, to build local capacity, as well as skills development for young people in the areas of aerial imagery analysis, building and operating drones. 

“Since the inception of the drones project at DSTI, the vision has always been to create the building blocks for the growth of the national drone ecosystem. With the recognition that the players in that space are many and their interests are varied, collaborations like this are all the more necessary for the growth and strengthening of the ecosystem.”- David Manley.

A research team from SORA Tech has also been utilizing the drone corridor, located at Njala University’s Mokonde campus, for testing and conducting further research on Malaria Control so that they can support the progress of Malaria Control Strategic Plan of Sierra Leone.

“We SORA Technology have been providing a new service that can detect and treat high-risk breeding sites of mosquito larvae, using drone and AI. The MoU with DSTI and Njala University strongly accelerated the project, from speedy tests for technical details to collaboration in building original AI. Localization of our technical knowledge is one of our top priorities for sustainable operations of our service, through which we would like to contribute to encourage various innovations and improved healthcare systems in Sierra Leone.” – Masaki Umeda, Africa Business Lead.

SORA continues their ongoing collaboration with HealthGrid Sierra Leone to provide access to electricity, internet connectivity, and other essential services to off-grid health facilities in the country, organized by USAID Global Development Alliance (GDA) and managed by a multi-sector consortium, including the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. 

Next Steps:

  • SORA will be building capacity by training Sierra Leonean on drones in collaboration with DSTI and Njala University.
  • Design and test drone technologies across multiple use cases in Sierra Leone.

About the Sierra Leone National Drone Corridor

Sierra Leone’s drone corridor is one of six supported by UNICEF in the world. Launched in November 2019 by DSTI, UNICEF, Njala University, Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority. As a sandbox where industry, universities, and individuals can test the use of drones for imagery, connectivity, and transport. It has so far provided opportunities for learning and exploration of the use of drones in Sierra Leone and continues to work on creating research opportunities for students and fellows.

About Njala University

Njala University (or simply Njala, as it is fondly called), is a rural comprehensive public research university in Sierra Leone, is committed to providing the highest standards of excellence in higher education in Sierra Leone and beyond, fostering intellectual and personal development, and stimulating meaningful research and service to humankind. Njala University has had a rich history since its establishment in 1964 as a university college based on the model of the American Land Grant University. Since then, it has metamorphosed into one of the leading universities in the country, preparing undergraduate and postgraduate students for careers in a wide variety of specializations including Education, Agricultural Research and Extension, Agricultural Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Community Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, Natural Resources Management and in Information Technology, among others. Njala University is a multi-disciplinary university with three campuses–the Njala campus in the Moyamba District, the Bo campus in the Bo District and the newly established Bonthe campus in the Bonthe District. We also operate a location in Freetown.

About SORA Technology

SORA Technology is a Japanese company that utilizes drones and air mobility to promote social transformation after the pandemic of COVID-19. With the purpose of the realization of Universal Health Coverage and Digital Transformation in Africa and Asia, we build and operate drone-based infrastructure, including their flight management systems. We contribute to solving the problems of inaccessibility and inefficiencies by developing completely new infrastructure centered on drones not only for safe, reliable, and timely transportation of goods but also for the effective management of digital information.

Mariama Rogers

Communications Lead 

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation 

E: mariama.rogers@dsti.gov.sl 

P: +(232) 75709963

Blog

Sierra Leone Organises First Mining Community Innovation Challenge Hackathon 

Freetown, September 27th, 2022—With the goal of creating innovative opportunities and driving sustainable skills development for youth, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the BHP Foundation, the National Minerals Agency (NMA), and Sensi Tech Hub, will host Sierra Leone’s first-ever Mining Community Innovation Challenge (MCIC) Hackathon. The event, part of the IFC’s From Disclosure to Development (D2D) Program, will be held September 27th–29th 2022, from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm GMT at  Sensi Tech Innovation Hub in Freetown. 

The focus of the three-day hackathon aligns with the theme of this year’s International Youth Day, “Intergenerational Solidarity; Creating a World for All Ages.” United Nations Secretary-General António- Guterres has highlighted the importance of action across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaving no one behind.

Specifically, the MCIC hackathon targets innovators who will develop sustainable and data-informed solutions for challenges facing Sierra Leone’s mining communities. Participants will identify solutions in several key areas, including:

  • Community engagement and social responsibility
  • Financial transparency and economic advantage 
  • Youth employment
  • Health and safety 
  • Land management and regulatory compliance 
  • Equal opportunity for women and girls in mining communities 

“IFC is delighted to support the government of Sierra Leone through the From Disclosure to Development program to strengthen the digital entrepreneurship ecosystem, with a focus on mining communities,” said Alexandra Celestin, IFC’s resident representative for Sierra Leone. “In line with IFC’s strong commitment to supporting sustainable mining, as well as the country’s youth and entrepreneurs, we hope that the Mining Community Innovation Challenge will support the development of innovative, data-driven solutions that will improve the well-being of people in mining communities.”

The event is open to community representatives, stakeholders, NGOs, development partners, and industry professionals, including tech developers, data analysts, media content creators, and entrepreneurs. The format is designed to encourage dialogue and collaboration to collectively map out ideas and development solutions to mitigate key challenges. 

The hackathon also presents an opportunity for the government of Sierra Leone and mining industry stakeholders to promote best global practices and enhance transparency by improving mining communities’ understanding of the industry’s contributions to local economic development and to the strengthening of the overall mining ecosystem.

Morris Marrah, Country Director for Sensi Tech Innovation Hub, said, “One of our key objectives is to build a technology innovation community in Sierra Leone that drives economic and social development by creating an enabling and stimulating community hub for technologists, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders.” The hackathon is a way to bring everyone together to develop their ideas and access cutting-edge tech, grants funding, events, incubation and acceleration programs, networking, training, and job opportunities, he added.

Noted DSTI data scientist Glenna Wilson, “Such initiatives that leverage skills, engage the creative minds of the youths, and promote the importance of data in innovation in Sierra Leone are welcomed.” 

The top five teams to emerge from the hackathon will have the opportunity to work with industry- leading experts and receive mentorship in a robust, post-event boot camp program, which will help them scale up their concepts. The boot camp program will also teach participants how to pitch their solutions and interface with potential investors, public-private partners, and the press. A panel of esteemed judges will select the two top teams, which will win the equivalent of cash prizes: first prize, $2,000; second prize, $1,000.

Sponsors and organisers

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) — a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

The BHP Foundation  works to address some of the world’s most critical sustainable development challenges. It is a charitable foundation funded by BHP and through its programs, the Foundation addresses challenges that are directly relevant to the resources sector. (https://www.bhp.com/sustainability/communities/bhp-foundation

  

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) sits in the Office of the President and executes its functions through the Office of the Chief Minister. The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) serves as an Advisor to the President and Chief Minister of Sierra Leone. DSTI’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; and to help transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub. (https://www.dsti.gov.sl) 

Sensi Tech Innovation Hub  is the first hub of its kind to be established in Sierra Leone since the country gained its independence in 1961. Its main objective is to build a technology innovation community in Sierra Leone that drives economic and social development by providing an open and stimulating community hub for technologists, entrepreneurs, and creatives to come together, develop their ideas, and access cutting-edge tech, grants funding, events, incubation and acceleration programs, networking, training and jobs opportunities. (http://sensi-sl.org/)   

The National Mineral Agency (NMA)  was established by an act of parliament in 2012, The National Minerals Agency Act (2012), and on 7th March 2013 by His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The creation of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) was based on Government approval of a transformation plan to restructure the institutional governance of the mining sector so that the governance role is separated from the operational role.  The NMA is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Mines and Minerals Act (2009) and other mining acts and related regulations. This includes responsibility for mineral rights management, collecting and disseminating geological information, and regulating the trading of precious minerals. (https://www.nma.gov.sl) 

Media Contact

If you would like to get in touch or speak to any of our spokespeople for an interview, please contact: 

Mariama Rogers

Communications Lead 

The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation 

E: mariama.rogers@dsti.gov.sl 

P: +(232) 75709963

Or 

Mohamed Hemoh

MCIC Hackathon Challenge Project Manager

Sensi Tech Innovation Hub

E: mohamedhemoh@sensi-sl.org

P: + (232) 79030735

Blog

Sierra Leone Launches $18 million USD Education Innovation Challenge with Global Partners

September 1, 2022 Freetown, Sierra Leone – The Ministry of Basic, Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), in partnership with the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), and the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF), a hosted trust fund at UNICEF, have officially launched the largest ever national outcomes fund for education in the world. This program will help a target 134,000 children in 325 public primary schools in Sierra Leone over the next three years. The Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge (SLEIC) is a scale up from the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC). In 2018, President Bio had a vision to increase access to quality and inclusive education with the launch of the Free Quality School Education Program (FQSE), and in an effort to create sustainable and impactful outcomes of FQSE, the Human Capital Development Incubator embedded at DSTI, designed the EIC to test, seed and scale up interventions that improve literacy and numeracy learning outcomes of students at the primary level. 

On June 24, 2019, the EIC was officially launched, inviting organizations and key stakeholders in the education sector to submit innovative ideas for working with students, teachers, and head teachers in government and government supported primary schools across 15 out of 16 districts in Sierra Leone. 

The EIC Service Providers have collaborated with government and schools to design, test, and implement creative and novel teaching approaches, as well as introducing teaching and learning resources, to improve numeracy and literacy levels in chosen schools. Data from the  baseline and midterm evaluations, as well as qualitative data from the  termly Monitoring and Evaluation  assessments, reveal that there has been progress and growth in learning as well as behavioral changes among students, teachers, headteachers, parents, and community elders. 

The EIC, which was seeded with $1.5M USD is now scaling up with the $18M USD SLEIC program, co-financed by the government of Sierra Leone and international donors. The program will fund five organizations to improve children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes in government-assisted primary schools, with a particular focus on improving girls education outcomes.

This is a testament to the use of data for informed decision making and sustainable interventions as echoed by Minister Sengeh, who said that: “the EIC has empowered students with access to opportunities that invariably improve learning outcomes through targeted and transformative  basic education strategies. Now that we have scaled to country level, we hope the new lessons will be taken globally.

The program has sustainability at its core. The interventions are designed to be both affordable and scalable so that the government can incorporate them into future education policy and scale up the most impactful approaches to a national and globam levels after the program finishes in 2025.

Amel Karboul, CEO of EOF said:

We face an unprecedented global learning crisis that requires a different approach to funding education programs and measuring their impact. Access to quality education improves lives and livelihoods. Education equals opportunity. We are working with the Sierra Leonean government to develop programs that are evidence-driven, enable innovation, and most importantly, measurably improve the quality of education for children and young people in the country.”

Joined by Emma Spicer of the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), at the launch,  Minister Sengeh said,

“The Government of Sierra Leone is excited about partnering with EOF to launch the Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge. The program will directly support children across the country and generate important evidence on which innovative education interventions can help drive foundational learning outcomes for all children. It is a perfect example of how we leverage innovation to transform our education service delivery and financing to deliver on the government’s promise of free quality school education for all.”

How will the SLEIC work?

  • Using an outcomes-based approach, organizations involved will be paid once their interventions have shown improvements in children’s literacy and numeracy. They are a mix of local and global providers, including National Youth Awareness Forum, Rising Academies, Street Child, EducAID and Save the Children. The program will be rigorously evaluated to understand their impact on learning, enabling evaluators to identify the approaches that are most effective.
  • The approach utilizes social impact bonds whose model has been successfully implemented in other sectors on a smaller scale. EOF has taken the steps in its programmatic approach to help scale up the output of impact bonds for its program

Who is funding the programme:

  • The Government of Sierra Leone – $1.5M USD
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO) – $14M USD
  • Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) – $1M US
  • Bank of America – $0.5M USD
  • Waterloo Foundation – $0.210 USD
  • Hempel Foundation – $1.179M USD 

About the Education Outcomes Fund: There are few greater challenges faced by the global community than the twin crises of learning poverty and youth unemployment. In response, the Education Commission (chaired by Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education) and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen) came together with our founding CEO (Her Excellency Dr.) Amel Karboul to create EOF end of 2017. EOF aims to improve the education and employment outcomes of 10 million children and youth, by supporting governments to utilize a range of innovative finance instruments at scale. EOF is the first outcomes fund hosted by the United Nations within UNICEF, as a scalable platform to partner with governments, donors, implementing partners, and investors around the world. EOF pays primarily on the basis of the results achieved, ensuring that taxpayer-funded domestic resources, aid, and philanthropic funds are only used to pay for what works. This is a game-changing way to finance results in education, focusing attention and realigning systems on the most challenging but most important measure of a program’s performance: whether it is improving lives.

About the programs partner organizations

National Youths Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL) is a local NGO engaged in educational, socio-economic, and sustainable development activities in Sierra Leone. They aim to integrate the community and Government into their educational program and ensure the holistic development of all people involved. They will provide training for teachers and headteachers, and supplementary materials and create a culture of joy and inclusion throughout the schools.

Rising Academies

Founded in Sierra Leone in 2014, Rising Academy Network is a growing network of inspiring schools in West Africa. Their mission is to unleash the full potential of every student, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and character to succeed in further study, work, and day-to-day life.

Street Child

Street Child works across 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Europe. They work with an expanding network of 95+ local organizations to harness the power and purpose of local-level organizations. Street Child aims to improve learning opportunities for students through a Transformation Model. This model utilizes multiple core components including individualized student support; student-centered instruction; strong school leadership; and shared school ownership, reinforced through a focus on data driven structures and strategies.

EducAid

EducAid has been working to strengthen education in Sierra Leone for more than 25 years, running free, high quality schools and sustainable school improvement projects. EducAid’s intervention focuses on teacher and school leader training with ongoing in-school and community support to implementation to build a common understanding of what excellence in respect-focused effective education looks like and how we can hold each other accountable and support each other to achieve this vision.

Save the Children

Save the Children have been in Sierra Leone since 1999, at first working in Kailahun to support children who were displaced during the civil war. They have since expanded their operations to four more districts.

Save the Children will build teacher capacity in literacy and numeracy teaching techniques, increase children’s access to reading and math materials, and provide support to communities and caregivers for supplementary learning that will enable children to practice math and reading at home. They will also train teachers in child protection and positive discipline strategies to create a safer environment for children in school. Their Community Learning Facilitators will support school communities to conduct sessions with parents and caregivers on children’s right to education, the value of education (particularly for girls), and the protection needs of girls and boys.

Blog

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.

Blog, NIDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog

Government is big; but it is small enough for one to have real impact built on vision and values

When you think about government and working for the government, what do you imagine? 

Two years ago, a word cloud of my perceptions read something like this: Governance, Politics, Opaque Systems, Policy, Regulations. At the time, I had just been offered (after a competitive process) the opportunity to work for the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) at the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI). While I had spent the majority of my career in the public sector, I had never worked directly in government (and definitely not close to an Office of the President) and had no idea what this pivot might mean. At the time of the offer, I had built a career and identity focused on studying, deconstructing and organizing against systemic power dynamics in the international development space; designing, running and facilitating adolescent girls programs and movements globally. I am a lawyer but I saw myself as metaphorical David, the small and powerful antidote to Goliath and his excesses.

Substituting the government for Goliath in my imagination and experiences, I struggled with this cognitive gap and had difficulty imagining how I would fit in and what value I would bring. Nonetheless, I was deeply inspired and compelled by H.E. President Bio’s desire to center science and evidence in his government’s decision making and by Dr. David Sengeh’s vision and values for DSTI. I saw the magic and wanted to be part of it. I wanted to help build and resource it. I stood a chance, I thought, to broaden my experience, lending it more grit and a more balanced perspective, deepen my humility and desire to serve as I heard that working in government can be a thankless job. At the very least, I would update my word cloud and perspective on government. 

Turns out, I could not have chosen a better landing and transition into government. Whereas I expected big government and the attendant bureaucracies and inefficiencies, DSTI was an enabling oasis that allowed my colleagues and I the privilege of exercising unbounded intellectual and creative freedoms in effectively crafting our mission, our team and work environment. Under those conditions, we set out “to use science, technology and innovation to support the Government of Sierra Leone to deliver on its national development plan effectively and efficiently; and to help transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub”. We would aim to build a culture that was rooted in the ethos of collaboration, openness, agility and one that focused on the future, problem-solving and humility to unlearn and learn with and from others. We curated a team and environment where young people (in my late thirties, I am one of the oldest staffers at DSTI) and women were not just equally numbered but equally voiced. DSTI is arguably the most gender equal institution in government I am aware of. For me, this is a high note not only because this outcome was consistent with my feminist values, but our approach to recruitment I believe guaranteed that we were able to curate the best and most capable team to deliver our mission in government.

DSTIWomen

I have worked with brilliant and thoughtful men at DSTI without a doubt, however, it is the young women at DSTI whom I have been privileged to collaborate with, to champion and work with that give me the most hope for our country and its future. In those DSTIWomen, I saw and experienced compassion, empathy, drive, humility, honesty, wisdom and brilliance, all qualities that we desperately need at the top of our government structures. The freedoms that allowed us to act were underwritten by a few factors which were enabling in ways I cannot overstate: the start-up nature of DSTI, the complete endorsement of the executive, and the appointment of solid leadership to DSTI with crystal clear vision. Why at the end of the day do all of these matter when experience in and of the larger government remains different? 

I believe that DSTI and what we have built at DSTI matters not as an aberration in the matrix but as a demonstration of what is possible and beyond within our ecosystem. It is an example of what is possible when we imagine different, when Goliath cedes power, when we have leaders who are driven by values, evidence and empathy.  

As if that wasn’t all enough, I also had the chance to move and influence several systems shifting initiatives while at DSTI- something not often imagined possible in government systems. I did this at a level I could only have dreamt of in my previous roles. Coming from the NGO space, I am attuned to the fact that many best in class ideas from the field never break through the project cocoon to replicate and embed in more scalable and sustainable structures. Government can be the north star for scale and sustainability so in my work I had always eyed and appreciated the possibilities and benefits that could come out of innovating alongside government. I just never thought I would be innovating from within government with the necessary mandate to collaborate, convene, influence and actually witness how my work actively molds and shapes government programs and policy that have direct impact on society. Just last year, a team I led at DSTI, in close collaboration with Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Teaching Service Commission (TSC), the Tony Blair Institute and other senior government advisors, launched (through the Human Capital Incubator) its first Education Innovation Challenge– a US$1.5M initiative.

Leveraging the Free Quality School Education Programme launched by the central government, the Education Innovation Challenge is designed to support quality education outcomes in Sierra Leone by working with education service providers to test innovations aimed at radically boosting learning outcomes from Sierra Leonean children at the primary school level. This programme was designed with a learning objective (DSTI was involved in design and implementation to the extent that we were interested in creating a solutions ecosystem with MBSSE) and with an end goal and transition plan to MBSSE, the government body with the education mandate. This means as I now plan my move away from DSTI, the first  Education Innovation Challenge has also grown and entered its next phase. Earlier this year, we brokered a partnership with the Education Outcomes Fund to scale the experiment to a pilot which will find a new implementation home within the MBSSE with significant financial commitments from government and other partners.The speed and efficiency of this adoption is remarkable and I deeply appreciate that it would not have been as seamless working from outside government.

I also anchored GoSL’s relationship with the Digital Public Goods Alliance, where the Republic of Sierra Leone is one of four champions, helping influence and shape policy and facilitate resources for open digital technologies and data models towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals in countries like and including Sierra Leone. I was center in facilitating transformative trips and relationships, including the Harvard-MIT engagements and our grant awards, that birthed many other opportunities and involved pitching and persuading partners to direct investment in government through DSTI to enable us to drive evidence-based policymaking and research. These engagements have measurable, visible and direct impact on the lives of people and this is humbling. 

Lest I start to give the impression that it was all la vie en rose, it is important to note at this point that I also encountered numerous challenges and frustrations in my work and not everything I touched turned to gold. In fact, I did fail at times. Some argue that failure makes learning possible. I agree, with a broad caveat that failure makes learning possible within an institution only when that institution is keen to learn, is flexible and has a built in ability to absorb and bounce back. One failure that does stand out is my inability to successfully establish a physical hub space for the Human Capital Development Incubator.

When I joined DSTI, the team had already brokered an agreement with an academic institution in University of Sierra Leone (IPAM)  to use their penthouse space for DSTI. The ambition at DSTI was to design and create a hub space that would accommodate the HCD Incubator, IPAM student entrepreneurs and a coding school. In fact we had entered into an agreement with a corporate sponsor to establish the coding school. The sponsor had agreed to cover recurring costs of running the school and as owner of the space and school, DSTI would cover the capital and all other costs associated with establishing and running the Incubator space and coding school. Unfortunately, I was not able to mobilize the full funding we needed to kickstart this important project. This delay caused some frustration for our partners and while the project hung in limbo, we had to cede use of the penthouse space back to IPAM and there is a chance our corporate sponsors will move ahead without us.The HCD Incubator, even without an official space, operated and thrived from my tiny office at DSTI. At one time, that space was host to more than 6 staffers at a time! Good times.

A big shout out to every career civil servant who has toiled under a less than ideal and enabling condition as I have during my short time in government. I understand my experience is not representative of the majority and the very outcomes that have made my time so fulfilling are not guaranteed even over the course of a career. This is so because moving big bureaucratic systems can be onerous and systemic changes happen slowly and impact often is not felt until years later, often time after a particular administration has passed. I think of it this way: our lines remain long- our lines for opportunities, ministry lines, recruitment lines, payment systems, even getting paid takes longer than what it should- and for citizens, most interaction with government most likely still feels like a long waiting game.

These challenges are exactly why DSTI should exist and be optimized for: The freedoms and mandate granted DSTI are extraordinary and necessary in our quest to enable an ecosystem that accelerates and leapfrogs our national progress whether it is through solving for our basic literacy and numeracy issues, making it easier to do business in Sierra Leone or designing systems to enable government to do its work faster, optimize service delivery to citizens and reduce the time citizens spend waiting for basic government services in health, education or other social services.

I acknowledge we are far from solving our most critical problems and some of the issues I have worked on and highlighted here are still percolating—as a country, we still have a gender problem, we are still struggling with our education outcomes, many of our compatriots do not have the basic necessities but I am proud that in my time at DSTI, I had the opportunity to be changemaker and part of the solution to help demonstrate, build and show the kind of changes that will drive the President’s vision for a true new direction—a Sierra Leone fit for every child and every woman and every citizen.

Click here to apply for the position of Head of Global Partnerships and Business Development.

1 2 3
About Exponent

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

Get Started
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google
Spotify
Consent to display content from Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from Sound