Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2020:
Vice President of Sierra Leone – Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh today committed Sierra Leone to the creation of a ‘Smart Africa’ – a bold vision of transforming Africa into a single digital market through collaboration.
Speaking at a virtual board meeting today, vice president Jalloh congratulated President Paul Kagame of Rwanda for his leadership as chairman of the Board of Smart Africa Alliance, and commended him and the Director-General – Lacina Kone, for convening the meeting despite challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as part of our commitment under the Intra-African Fibre connectivity initiative, we recently completed the physical inter-connection of our fibre optical cable network with that of our sister Republic of Guinea under the auspices of ‘SMART AFRICA’. The activation of this important circuit will support cheaper internet traffic, routing between the two countries,” he said.
He said that young people who make up about 46 per cent of the country’s population, are coming of age amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has brought with it many opportunities and challenges for low-income countries like Sierra Leone.
He added that because his government is committed to participating fully in the fourth industrial revolution, they are investing in human capital development with quality education that emphasises a strong component of science, technology, and innovation.
“My government is also currently working on a Youth Talent Development as a flagship project to be submitted to the Smart Africa Secretariat for consideration,” he said, adding that His President Dr Julius Maada Bio is equally excited at some of the discussions with the Secretariat on the possibility of collaboration on key digital development initiatives.
“I firmly support these dialogues as they fit well into our overall vision of creating a digitally inclusive and Smart Sierra Leone, with a safe and secure digital space for current and future generations. My Government will continue to provide the political leadership as and when required,” he assured.
The vice president concluded by stating that his government is making steady but important progress in developing a resilient and safer cyberspace, with commitment to the safe use of digital technologies, including fighting cybercrime.
“We have formulated our first National Cybercrime Bill that will create a comprehensive and harmonised legal framework, and build capacity for law enforcement and the judiciary to efficiently combat cybercrimes and protect critical communication infrastructures,” he said.
Analysts say that the development of a digital economy in Sierra Leone could create hundreds of thousands of highly skilled, knowledge-driven jobs for young and educated people, as well as adding billions of dollars to the country’s economy by 2030.
But to achieve this, the government must invest in creating the training infrastructure and build the capacity of the hundreds if not thousands of suitably qualified trainers and tutors, who would deliver this highly skilled training programme.