The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara led a team from the Ministry to represent Sierra Leone at the 9th Innovation Africa Ministerial Summit held in Accra, Ghana from 3rd – 5th December 2019. The summit, which is Africa’s high-level ministerial platform, attracted Ministers of ICT, Education and other Industry experts from the continent under the official patronage of the Government of Ghana. The summit provided an opportunity for industry partners to engage with ministers and senior government officials from over 40 countries on how ICT can be utilized to improve efficiency in Education. The event, which was hosted at the Movenpick Ambassadors Hotel, also provided delegates – including global leaders in ICT and Education-related companies – the opportunity to showcase how digital technologies are impacting the way teaching and learning is done in the 21st century. In her presentation during a panel discussion with other Ministers of ICT on the topic, ‘Investing in Africa’s ICTs for Digital Skills and Transformation, Deputy Minister Mamadi outlined efforts currently being made by the Government to leapfrog Sierra Leone’s development aspirations. Sierra Leone, she noted, has developed a National Digital Transformation Roadmap which outlines key policy actions, legal and regulatory frameworks, institutional reforms, programmes and projects that are required to support the implementation of the National Development Plan. She reiterated the Government’s New Direction Agenda for Education, noting that the successful delivery of information communication technologies (ICTs) in African education systems is key in driving the continent’s economic development. She said that like many other African countries, Sierra Leone has a very young population coming of age in the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution, stressing that young people must be equipped with 21st century skills for them to participate in economic activities as well as contribute to the global value chain.
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To achieve this, she disclosed that His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio has allocated 22% of the National Budget to Education as well as recently launching the National Drone Corridor which will service among other things the human capital development priorities, particularly the Free Quality Education Program. Also, the government has established the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) which is working towards transforming Sierra Leone into a prosperous nation through science, technology and innovation. “These and many other initiatives are being pursued by our government to address the human capacity challenge that we are faced with,” she added. The Deputy Minister assured her audience that her Ministry will continue to work with the Ministry of Education to enhance digital literacy programmes, provide smart e-learning devices to learners, and train educators in new technologies as “innovation has the ability to unlock human capital and harness their immense potentials.” On the margins of the conference, the Deputy Minister and her team met and held discussions with representatives from cutting-edge solutions in digital content development, classroom technology like Education for Development Trust, CodeJIKA, JP.IK, Cambridge, Canon, JP-Inspiring, the World Bank and a host of other major leaders in ICT and the Education ecosystem. These sessions offered opportunity for more engagements that could lead to greater and much more targeted areas of partnerships between Sierra Leone and the various organsiations. The Deputy Minister’s delegation included the Permanent Secretary Mr. Augustine Sheku, the Ag. Director of Communications Mr. Mohamed M. Jalloh, and Mr. Lansana Lahai from the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM). The three-day event was very engaging, with the attendant presentations, panel discussions as well as bilateral meetings forming some of the highpoints of the summit.
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