President Bio visiting Harvard University

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 March 2019:

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone will visit Harvard and MIT – leading global institutions of higher learning, research and innovation, in Boston, USA on Thursday, 7th March 2019, to build research and innovation partnership with Sierra Leone.

The president will engage with students, researchers and faculty as he builds partnerships for technical and academic exchange.

Sierra Leone has committed 21% of its national budget to education as part of a new government strategy for sustainable growth that prioritises human capital development.

In August 2018, President Bio launched the Free Quality Education Project (FQEP) for all Sierra Leonean children from primary to secondary school. The FQEP covers tuition and learning materials for core subjects like English and Mathematics.

As a result, an estimated 2 million school children in government and government-assisted schools now have access to free education.

“By investing our resources in free, quality teaching and learning, we are investing in human capital and empowering our youth to be the generation that will end poverty in our time,” said President Bio.

Besides investments in education, President Bio established the country’s first government Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) and the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, both at the Office of the President.

DSTI Sierra Leone is the manifestation of the President’s vision to harness technology for national development and create ecosystems for Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs to thrive and compete globally.

At Harvard and MIT, President Bio will share the policies that he has put in place to enhance government performance and service delivery.

President Bio will participate in an open discussion, with lectures by distinguished faculty leaders from Harvard and Tufts University, at the Forum on Sierra Leone hosted by the Harvard Law School.

While the President’s visit is to strengthen ties, Sierra Leone already benefits from technical support from both Harvard and MIT.

Several current members of his Cabinet will participate at the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, where they’ll receive technical support shaped by their policy goals and specific needs.

The Mayor of Freetown City Council – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, is a beneficiary of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

There are MIT faculty, researchers and students currently embedded at DSTI Sierra Leone where they are collaborating with local scientists to develop solutions that range from data mapping for an integrated national revenue and expense platform, to a USSD service that will monitor water levels in reservoirs and send SMS alerts to citizens and relevant government agencies.

The President’s visit to Harvard and MIT will take place on March 7-8 2019. MIT Media Lab and Chairman Emeritus Nicholas Negroponte, and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito will host President Bio at the Media Lab.

Later, president Bio will speak at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School (“Harvard’s premier arena for political speech”).

Prior to participation in the Forum on Sierra Leone, President Bio will meet with Harvard President Larry Bacow and several Deans across the University.

The president will be hosted at an Investor Dinner, focused on Sierra Leone – at the Harvard Faculty Club, bringing together potential and current investors in Sierra Leone.

He will be accompanied by senior-level members of the cabinet and Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. David Sengeh, who is an alum of both Harvard and MIT.


  1. Thank you Dr Sengeh for the sacrifice you and others are making to bring Sierra Leone in the fore front of modernity and development. You are a true patriot? Unlike our brothers and sisters on the other side who continue to preach tribalism to forster their selfish goals, you and the government are hard at work to liberate Sierra Leone from the the evil yoke of poverty, disease and intolerance. Politics for personal gains should not stand in the way of development that benefits all. GOD BLESS MAADA BIO AND HIS TEAM.

  2. Congratulations sir. Ah nor sabie you but you message is a true Sierra Leonean message. Mek we all join hands for build up salone. God bless you and you have my support.

    • No problems Gabriel, if you are addressing the congratulations to me. We will get to know each other by God’s grace in the near future.
      Lets just continue to participate responsibly in the national debate. God will surely help us and our country.
      Thanks Gabriel.

  3. Impressive autobiography from Dr. Sengeh. Serious issues still remain to be discussed as regards to the the establishment and the work the DSTI is doing. I have been monitoring their activities ever since and now have some suggestions for the president.

    I will come to this topic later after the president’s visit to the US. I believe that there are changes that need to be made on how the DSTI should be integrated in the government and their priorities (from administration to technology). The president I am sure will agree with me. So, for now, no need to discuss anything that will embarrass the president’s visit.
    Stay tuned.

    • I promised earlier that I will return to this topic after the president’s visit from the US. With what the president said concerning the DSTI during his visit has made me drop the administrative part of my criticisms and suggestions.
      This is what the president said and I quote ‘The government has also established a Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation to seed, test, and scale innovations in collaboration with and in consideration of the needs of the private sector, government, and academic institutions’. It is of everyone’s interest that the DSTI work hand in hand with all the government agencies involved in this project.

      However I have some concerns with the priority of the DSTI’s projects. I thought that e-health will be given priority, but nothing has been done till yet in that regard. Dr. Sengeh and his team to be honest are very qualified and formidable people and are doing a very good job on e-government. But the fact that nothing has been done till now on e-health surprises me.

      My initial thoughts were that the DSTI would use this opportunity to create a system where HIV patients,, pregnant women, doctors and other patients will communicate with each other to make live easy. Also, I was expecting that a multilingual(Sierra Leonean languages) or at least Krio SMS language application will be developed to inform people what to do in times of need through their mobile phones. Let us not forget that health is one of the president’s main concerns. For example, an app where a HIV patient will receive a text message when to take his/her drugs;a nurse in a rural health centre will communicate with a doctor somewhere with his/her mobile phone for more information; system where the nurse can just take a picture and send to the doctor for help.
      The technology and infrastructures are there in Sierra Leone although not very advanced. But they can achieve what is needed (use of mobile apps will just do) in the basics of e-health development. I hope the DSTI will consider e-health as a priority.

      One area that the government is forgetting(this has nothing to do with the DSTI) in this whole innovation project is AUTOMATION. Let us take a quote from this article – ‘There are MIT faculty researchers and students currently embedded at DSTI Sierra Leone where they are collaborating with local scientists to develop solutions that range from data mapping for an integrated national revenue and expense platform, to a USSD service that will monitor water levels in reservoirs and send SMS alerts to citizens and relevant government agencies’.

      You can’t just use an application to send an SMS alert with a mobile phone without having something in place to trigger the alarm. With a water reservoir for example, you can use automation to control the water levels. That is why we have PLC’s(Programmable Logical Controllers). The signal received when the alarm is triggered can be transformed into whatever way you want it to be used(whether as SMS, siren or whatever alert).

      In my view, the government should also pay attention to AUTOMATION. The country must be preparing itself for potential industrial investments. You cannot build an industrial economy without AUTOMATION. The DSTI announced sometime ago that it will be the first government agency in the world, to develop an impenetrable quantum encrypted network that will keep state data secure. If I am not mistaken, China has already done that. My concern with the QUANTUM encrypted network is the cost involved.

      I hope the transmission is going to be done through FIBREOPTICS (speed is nearly close to the speed of sound) and not COPPER WIRE. Does Sierra Leone have the engineering in place for the installation of fibre optics?

      I was speaking with a colleague of mine from Innsbruck University in Austria. We were just discussing how realistic it was for Sierra Leone to have this sort of network(QUANTUM) because of the costs involved, the limitations and the research that is still going on with quantum itself. Although the DSTI is going to use it on a limited scope(e-government or e-business), there are many challenges ahead.

      I wish the DSTI all the best and may GOD help them in this very difficult project of IMPENETRABLE QUANTUM ENCRYPTED NETWORK.
      Finally, let us not just criticise what people are doing, but making suggestion and providing solutions.

  4. This is a great leap towards sustainable development in Sierra Leone. Human capital development is a fundamental pillar in the development of any nation and this vision puts Sierra Leone on track towards effective management of the huge natural/mineral resources the country boasts of for its small population of 7 million. All successful nations in the world have an excellent human resource base.

    Therefore sourcing the right minds and establishing the right institutions like DSTI is just what the country needs at this time. However, drastic changes like these need firmness in leadership and the willingness of the People to cooperate. A successful nation does not only have a “willing political leadership”, but also “willing citizens” who are ready to learn new skills to fit in the fast-changing economy; comply with the rules that govern their respective domains and collectively cooperate to fight corruption.

    As the old policies and systems are being overhauled, the citizens need a drastic change in attitude and character. We need to recognise that we, Sierra Leoneans, are living arguably, the 18th-century lifestyle in a 21st-century world. We have a lot to catch up on. The ‘Paopa Leadership’ might just be the willing kind we have been waiting for, but we as citizens need to be willing. Therefore we pray for consistency, courage, Godly wisdom and direction for this leadership.

  5. No matter your dreams, they are not too-big-to-have and there is no too-small-a-step to take towards them.

    President Bio will be speaking at Public Forums at Harvard and MIT this week. It is incredible because this doesn’t just happen to any leader. It is rare and special and something to be proud of SL for!! I am humbled and inspired beyond words. Here’s why…

    1. This visit didn’t just happen because someone woke up and said, hey, come speak to Harvard and MIT. This happened because of President Bio’s leadership!!! Even before President Bio became President Bio he had spoken about how to access technical education and use research for development. He asked me to meet President Faust and President Reif about 1 year ago. He asked me to engage Professor Akyeampong at Center for African Studies. He had a vision for the kind of engagement he was seeking and this is what it was!

    2. When I was at Harvard College, my roommates (Justin Grinstead, Henry Dawkins,Mukudzei T Borerwe Lahiru, etc) indulged me to start a Harvard Club for Sierra Leone. We invited Karefa Smart who then became my mentor, Ishmael Beah, Eleanor Thompson and Isaiah Washington to speak in 2008. It was amazing! 11years later, we are having another Harvard Forum on Sierra Leone. This time with our own President Bio and notable professors like Paul Farmer.

    3. There are many family, friends, brothers and sisters who have been working tirelessly to make this trip happen. My team at DSTI remains solid and gold. When I tell people that I have the best team in Salone, they think I am just talking. But look wetin den don do again!! There are so many many many others who are putting in the time and effort!!

    If you lek Salone, if you truly want mek salone go before, ar dae beg, na for join we pan dis wok. Salone na we all yone no matter us parti you dae.


    © David Sengeh

    • Congratulations Dr. Sengeh for the hard work and I strongly compliment your team for their hard work as well. Let’s put politics aside and dream for a better Sierra Leone that will benefit us all. #Showfirstandtalklater.

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