His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has officially launched Sierra Leone’s National Innovation and Digitalisation Strategy, NIDS, after delivering the keynote address at the Bintumani Conference Hall in Aberdeen in Freetown.
The President said that the launch was a kick-start to the nation’s long journey to digital transformation as part of a series of Government’s innovative efforts, adding that it was critical to the kind of future he was trying to build where technology and innovation would be used to answer the myriad of questions around the development of the country.
“The cost of governance had been deliberately bloated because of fraud, misuse, and corruption. Effectiveness, efficiency and transparency in governance processes, revenue collection, and public service delivery had been severely thwarted by the failure to imagine how we could do all those better. I had pondered for years over issues like how corruption had brought the country’s economy and governance to its knees.
“I had pondered on using data to understand dimensions of urban housing and poverty, water, sanitation, and health and also using the power of technology to provide improved access to justice, access to information, and access to quality education fit for purpose. And more on education, using technology and innovation to provide quality education and introduce content in innovative ways, present new forms of pedagogy while improving outcomes and achievement levels for our students,’’ he said.
He mentioned that there were more questions, with the overarching question being how to use technology and innovation to fast-track Sierra Leone along the pathway of development. He said that since the establishment of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation, DSTI, they had made huge efforts in mainstreaming technology and innovation into the workings of government, adding that the launch of the NIDS was indicative of how DSTI had proven to be very instrumental in moving his vision forward.
“We had been excluded in the first and second industrial revolutions by factors of history. For the third industrial revolution, we had been consumers and mere spectators. The fourth industrial revolution is here and I believe that by enhancing the capability and capacity of our population, through comprehensive human capital development, we can achieve real economic growth and real development as a nation.
“Today, we celebrate collectively, as Sierra Leoneans, a vision for the future and exhort one another to steadfastly pursue that vision for all our sakes. We have digitised governance processes, simplified business registration and revenue collection and therefore reduced the cost of starting and doing business, providing public services, reducing the cost of and instituting more predictability and transparency into governance,’’ he said.
President Bio also said that his government had captured citizen data with unique national insurance numbers and had become the first African country to use Blockchain Technology to establish a national digital platform.
Chief Innovation Officer, Dr David MoininaSengeh, said that the event was about the future of a Sierra Leone that would be synonymous with innovation, a future where the children could access quality learning materials through solutions developed by their peers, a future where any farmer would have the information they need at their fingertips to increase the outputs of their farms by several folds and a future where a sick patient would know precisely which health facilities to visit.
“The NIDS is a living document. We know that technology changes so quickly that within a couple of years many things will become redundant and the solutions we are designing for our challenges now, may not even work. That means, as a country, we each have a responsibility to continue to shape it, particularly in how we deploy resources and how we choose to solve our collective challenges,’’ he said.