President Bio launches Sierra Leone’s first directorate of science, technology and innovation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 October 2018:

President Julius Maada Bio has unveiled Sierra Leone’s first Directorate of Science and Technology (DST) at State House, to support government’s delivery on development and boost innovation and entrepreneurship.

Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, who chaired the ceremony and had presided over its creation, said the directorate would use science, technology and innovation to deliver key aspects of government business in the areas of e-health, e-government, e-education and e-security.

He assured the gathering that the team of young and brilliant minds would work across government departments and agencies to change the future of Sierra Leone though science, technology and innovation.

He said this this would also improve technology, create wealth, boost education and sustainable development and transform the country.

The newly appointed Chief Innovation Officer at the Directorate, Dr Moinina David Sengeh (Photo above), said that science, technology and innovation are vital to solving twenty-first-century problems, adding that scientific research would produce discoveries to improve lives and societies.

The young scientist also added that there are prospects for technological breakthroughs that would revolutionise commerce and knowledge-sharing. He disclosed that innovation would inspire people to seek new solutions to persistent problems.

David Sengeh confirmed that his office has in the last few months, collaborated across government and other institutions in and out of Sierra Leone. He stated that his office would work with the Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority, in particular, to introduce an Electronics Cash Register system that would help improve revenue mobilisation in the country.

He said he is working closely with the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority, where they have already used available data to discover that 281,000 government vehicles were registered during the past ten years, and that 4,694 of the 281,000 government owned vehicles were unaccounted for by the former government.

He promised to work with the ministries of education and health to make their organisations effective through technology and innovation.

Officially declaring the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation open to the public, President Julius Maada Bio thanked Dr Sengeh for accepting his offer to join him in translating his dream of transforming Sierra Leone through science, technology and innovation.

He told the gathering that he has created the DST to enhance human capacity development and to create the enabling environment for local and foreign innovators to freely invest in the country. He added that innovation was good for Sierra Leone, the economy and people.

President Bio assured the team at DST of his government’s commitment to not only supporting the initiative financially, but to also making sure that they deliver for the ultimate success and growth of the country.

Whilst supporters of the government regard the new DSTI department as a useful initiative, critics and doubters say that until the government can improve access to electricity and its reliability, investing in technology and innovation will always be waste of resources.

11 Comments

  1. My issue here is not about his competence. Its about upholding and maintaining high standards in public life. He is a public official and tax payers do expect standards to be maintained. After all tax payers are paying his salary. Dont you forget that.

    If he wants to dress like a ragamuffin or pot smoking rastafarian, then let him go and work in the private sector and see how long he lasts.

    Lets stop condoning foolishness. The man is not above all civil servants and public officials who are abiding by the traditional dress code expected of public officials – i.e. wearing our traditional Africana or European suit.

    Tell me which part of Sierra Leone rastafarianism is the culture as you wrongly suggest. If he thinks wearing female or sports leggings instead of trousers to such an important national event at State House of all places is cool, then I wonder what he is going to wear next – pyjamas perhaps? Sheer foolishness.

    I hope president Bio will have the sense to warn him about the dress code in the civil service or public realm.

  2. It is sadden that in this day and age, a Sierra Leonean like David Tucker is still judging his fellow Sierra Leonean not of his suitability for the post but by his appearance. What would David Tucker say about the President of the United States of America Donald Trump.

    Is he not always well suited in expensive coat and tie but his suitability as a President of that great nation is highly questionable worldwide and among his own fellow Americans. Dr Moinina Sengeh was culturally dressed as a proud African with dreadlocks rather than copycat the westerners (coat and tie). I will always be proud to see my African brothers and sisters dressed in African attire.

  3. I can only imagine that a few of my country folk who have commented on David’s suitability for the post, know little or nothing about his accomplishments; as someone who has been following his work for over 5 years, it is a bit disheartening to read some of the comments.

    Perhaps, the bright colours of the trousers have blinded them. Might a look at his Wikipedia entry help, as an introduction?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Moinina_Sengeh

    • Thanks for sharing, Ade. Some of us are intimately familiar with Sengeh’s work. I know precious few Sierra Leoneans with Ivy League graduate degrees in STEM fields who leave the West at this embryonic stage of their career. This is all the more reason why his return home to serve is so admirable.

  4. Doctor Sengeh seems to be a free spirited person who is enjoying being himself and I don’t think he is interested in being a copycat. May the almighty God continue to bless him for the sacrifices he has made to return home just to contribute to our nation building.

  5. I honestly do not believe that Steve Job would have dreamt of turning up to a business meeting wearing a pair of tight rastafarian coloured leggings. Please let us take this role very seriously.

    With all due respect, David is not the only Sierra Leonean with PhD in science and technology. What has he invented that has gone into production and market? So please dont compare him with Steve Job. Different kettle of fish.

    He has lived outside Sierra leone far too long and must learn to respect our culture. That’s all I am saying.

    As regards his ability to make a difference in Sierra Leone, let’s wait and see, because I suspect he is far more good at spending time in the lab carrying out research than making things happen within and across complex organisational systems. The jury is out, We are waiting.

    • Personally, I find nothing wrong with his dress or his dreadlocks; am more concerned with the quality of his technical competence, whether he can rise to meet the challenge offered him.

      But let’s shelve the “dress appropriateness” discussion and address the matter of other Sierra Leoneans with comparable academic pedigree helping their country. I know of several Sierra Leoneans with comparable intellectual heft in the sciences, working at senior positions in multinational cooperations, who will never leave their cozy lifestyles in the West to go help our penurous country. David did and for that I am grateful.

    • Am a Sierra Leonean and I see nothing culturally akew with his appearance.

      If Sierra Leonean culture now means “dressing appropriately” (whatever that means) at the expense of competence, then that is simply unfortunate. And I agree with you: reserve judgement and wait to determine his contribution.

  6. Could this chief innovation officer not be better and respectfully dressed? Look at what he has got on to address his audience at State House – Jungle jogging pants or female leggings. This is ridiculous. What example is he setting for young people.

    He has to remember that he is not in a pot smoking den but a respectable public office where standards must be kept high. His rastafarian dressing has no place in our culture or public office. This is disappointing.

    I think he is going to be a waste of space and money. Poor taxpayers spending their hard earned cash on a ragamuffin.

  7. Great initiative. I appreciate the fact that some would consider this effort misplaced; that the country must first secure access to electricity and portable drinking water before embarking on developing a national technology directorate.

    But I think otherwise. The choice here for Sierra Leone isn’t binary. Development of a national technology directorate must go hand-in-glove with expanding access to electricity and drinkable water to produce synergies in the country’s growth. Imagine what the tech directorate could do about revenue mobilization when they partner with NRA?

    Consider just how efficiently that country’s scare resources could be deployed if relevant tools are developed by these technologists? I’ll also add the cost of creating these technologies in the private sector would be astronomically high.

    • Would you have preferred someone “better dressed” but ill-prepared for the task ahead? The African continent is peopled with incompetent yet ostentatiously clad public officials. Focus should be on David’s contribution to his country and not his appearance. I never saw investors in the US fail to take seriously Steve Jobs’ business pronouncements or his contribution to the economy simply because he wasn’t attired in the usual Wall Street suit and tie. Just my 2 cents!

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