Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2019:
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has called for “the right investment” to help prepare Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
He was speaking at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) held in Yokohama, Japan yesterday, Wednesday 28 August 2019.
The 4IR is the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the internet, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work.
President Bio was addressing a group of about 50 African Heads of State and Government, during the opening plenary session of the TICAD7 Summit.
He said that the African continent missed out on the first, second and third industrial revolutions, and should not miss out on the fourth industrial revolution.
“If we do not prepare our children for the 4IR technologies we are going to miss out,” president Bio said, adding that the next generation should be familiar with AI, machine learning and big data algorithms.
As part of preparing for the 4IR, president Bio told the conference that his government has prioritised spending on human capital development, through its record budget allocation on education.
According to State House report, the president’s call for investment to prepare Africans for the 4IR is strategically aligned with the theme for this year’s TICAD7 in Japan, which is focusing on ‘advancing Africa’s development through people, technology and innovation’.
The State House report also says that president Bio regards the 4IR as more than just technology-driven change.
The president believes it’s an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy-makers and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future.
The president also used the occasion to inform the conference that his new administration has done a lot of reforms to make the country’s business climate more favourable for investors.
“We have doubled the number of businesses registered in one year. We have seen an upward trend in starting a business indicator and protecting minority investors,” said president Bio.
I am very pleased and delighted that President Bio was talking about 4IR in Japan. Maybe, he sometimes reads comments from the SIERRA LEONE TELEGRAPH PLATFORM, although it can be upsetting at times. What he was talking about in Japan has been repeated several times on this PLATFORM.
I will repeat it again. The President must prepare Sierra Leone for MADE IN SIERRA LEONE by 2030, by making sure we have enough ELECTRICITY (24 hr), INTERNET throughout the country and training the MANPOWER needed. If we achieve that by 2030, then, Sierra Leone will become an INDUSTRIAL and MANUFACTURING STATE By 2030. It’s possible. No doubt about that.
President Bio can start now by negotiating with the Russians to start training 3000 Sierra Leoneans per year for ten years (till 2030) in all areas of our national development. I chose Russia because, it would not be very expensive and also, the scheme (although 3000 per year) existed during the days of the late President Siaka Stevens. Its just a matter of the government reopening the scheme and negotiating with Russians.
The only problem that would prove to be an obstacle to our industrial revolution is, the POLITICAL WILL of our LEADERS and the POLITICAL CONTINUITY of succeeding governments. So, our politicians must start right now to put legislations in place for political continuity.
Sacking of all SLPP officials and associates by APC when APC comes to power and vice versa for example, will not help us achieve that goal. Our goals for 4IR as President Bio is proposing will never be achieved if our political leaders fail to play their honourable and noble part.
Nevertheless, its a wise call from President Bio to other AFRICAN LEADERS. Its just AMAZING hearing our President during such a very important event telling other HEADS OF STATE what is good for Africa. Frankly speaking, I was very impressed and pleased. Just proud of the President in that respect.
Just see how our President was playing TOUGH and explaining the issues to other delegates. Lots of attentive onlookers. Impressive stuff. YEAH! GOD BLESS YOU President Bio.
President Julius Maada Bio should assume the nickname ‘No Drama Bio’. The guy is so focused on what he wants to achieve for his country that he has no time to respond to his detractors. Bio’s rise to power for a second time has not been smooth. Many in his Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) had doubted his electability. Smeared by the All People’s Congress (APC) propaganda machine that he was a killer, Bio had to fight very hard to win his party’s nomination.
And upon winning the SLPP nomination, he had to contend with not only the incumbent APC but also the National Grand Coalition (NGC) headed by the charismatic Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella. Many had earlier believed that Yumkella was the right man to lead the SLPP to the polls.
However, in the first round of the 2018 presidential elections, Bio easily trounced Yumkella, battering him in Yumkella’s Northern stronghold while taking him to the school of hard knocks in the Western Area. Simply put, Yumkella’s electoral collapse was stupefying and embarrassing. It left the former United Nations man gasping for air in a putrid atmosphere of party politics. Bio went on to take out Dr. Samura Kamara of the APC amid mass rigging and ballot box stuffing by the APC.
Four months into his rule, Bio announced the implementation of his signature program, the Free Quality Education Program. His detractors again laughed and questioned his ability to raise funds for such an ambitious program. But Bio has showed his detractors that he was far ahead of them in the game of common sense as funds keep pouring in.
Domestic and international goodwill towards Bio’s pet project has been overwhelming with the European Union (EU) and other credible organizations contributing to the president’s human resource program. Now, the education initiative has been extended to college students majoring in the sciences. All public college students majoring in the sciences can now attend college at no cost to themselves.
Other educational initiatives that are in the pipeline include constructing a university in Koidu, Kono district and upgrading the Milton Margai Teachers’ College of Education and Technology and the Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema to a university.
In the midst of record achievements, Bio’s detractors and opponents now accuse him of human rights violations. But their arguments ring hollow in that they presuppose that Bio micromanages the Sierra Leone Police, the judiciary and the National Electoral Commission. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Bio inherited both the police force and the judiciary from the outgoing APC government.
Thus, if the police were accused of APC loyalty during the APC administration, can this same police force quickly change its colors to green in the age of president Bio? And when the judiciary endorsed Ernest Koroma’s sacking of vice president Samuel Samsuman a few years ago, the APC media hailed the judiciary for its independence and competency. Has this same judiciary now become SLPP?
Further, when Mr. N’fa Allie Conteh was approved by an APC-dominated parliament as national electoral commissioner, he was praised for his professionalism on both sides of the political divide. APC partisans even believed that Mr. Conteh’s northern origin would force him to be sympathetic to the APC. Why is the commissioner now lambasted by the APC for being partial to the SLPP?
Just a day or two ago, the Government of Sierra Leone was accused of human rights violations by Amnesty International. This accusation was centered on a judge’s refusal of bail to APC members locked up for perpetrating electoral violence. Granted that the judiciary is part of the Government of Sierra Leone, does it make any sense to specifically point fingers at president Bio as the purveyor of human rights violations in Sierra Leone?
Bio has never endorsed or campaigned for a political candidate since assuming office. And while Ernest Koroma was seen a week ago shamelessly leading a lynching mob in Hamilton, Bio was busy meeting with foreign dignitaries at State House. Notwithstanding this, how credible is the work of Amnesty International if it can ignore xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa just a couple of days ago while enthusiastically holding the government of Sierra Leone in a bad light?
Also, as someone noted elsewhere, why is that organizations like Amnesty International often ignore police brutality in developed countries yet are quick to ridicule developing countries?
Bio’s no drama approach to leadership is frustrating his detractors and opponents. In his determination to transform his country, the man has no time for empty political discourse. He believes that putting Sierra Leone on a sound economic footing fulfills his dream of becoming president. It appears that the president is on the right track.
If as expected production, domestic and foreign investment pick up in the near or intermediate future, trouncing a largely disorganized and bumbling opposition in 2023 would become a forgone conclusion.
Maybe I’m already too old. But I fear this digital development all over the world, from 3IR to 4IR. Big brother is watching you, orson welles 1984 more extreme, total control and observation. How many hard working people will profit from this
development? And in Sierra Leone robots will do the rice farming?