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.
Who is fooling who? Some of these conference ideas are not meant for countries like Sierra Leone, which, I don’t take pride in saying, is way behind time, but its the truth. The truth is, every time a conference is held around somewhere and as long as an invitation is extended for simple courtesy, whether or not the conference idea is relevant to the social circumstance and economic reality of Sierra Leone, the government will be ready to jump like a bull unleashed, to the occasion.
A careful, thorough and unbiased evaluation of some of these conferences by the government, relative to the national development interest, would have found Sierra Leone to be out of place to join in.
Gentlemen – I beg to differ; Feel free to blow trumpets, dance and sing all the praises about Smart Technologies you want but count this poverty-stricken country of mine out of such a mindless pathetic charade; Pragmatism will not allow me to promote or foolishly give my support to such a profitless, poorly timed idea tha is bound to get my impoverished nation chained, and shackled in another timewasting, extravagant, ill-advised showboating exercise. Millions of our people are homeless, languishing without hope in the cold filthy streets of Freetown, and here you are talking about a dull, uninspiring, unrewarding exercise?
Oh well, If you can afford three square meals a day, without breaking a sweat then this will be a priority for you, but wait, spend some time and ask the grief-stricken disabled, wretched beggar and mentally ill what their daily heartfelt prayers are for and you will hear the sacred words;” Give us this day, O good and merciful lord our daily bread ” There you go – someone’s down in the dumps, heart-broken and unhappy and you are here flushing taxpayers money in another bootless attention seeking, ostentatious endeavor.
Lord have Mercy! When will these cold unfeeling people learn to care about the wellbeing of others, especially the poorest of the poor among us? Smart Technology huh? And there are millions of homes without proper modern toilets overflowing with filth in a country once known as the “Anthens of Africa” and that doesn’t bother you one bit huh?(lol)Again, all our streets are overcrowded with orphans and itsy-bitsy young girls endangering their lives as prostitutes, just to survive and YOU – Incompetent freeloading exhibitionist without a conscience, are happy soaring the skies, wasting money flying First Class, popping champagne and not thinking about the needs of those thirsting for a bowl of soup in the slums of Freetown huh? A damn shame!
I believe this speedy created fourth industrial revolution will widen divisions in the society. The scissors between rich and poor will open wider all over the world. This will mean less employed people and their salery will go down. Another critical point: the monotoring of all of us will increase.
Digital age without feeding-yourself is not sustainable. Tall ideas wrong-timing. What Juldeh and the rest of African leadership should ensure is the sustained productivity of its agricultural sector. Increase in food production will save lots of highly needed cash , increase local market share and revenue. This will not only redundant the oversea importers whilst securing our food Independence and cash, but would improve our life styles, employment and stronger economies. First things first, feed yourself before any other revolution, otherwise all the ‘volutions’ will end up in the bin. Good idea but wrong time sir.
Good news for the first Sierra Leonean I know that is going to qualify in smart technology. Well done brother for studying one of the most advanced areas of Engineering in the world. Your expertise and knowledge will be admired and appreciated all over the world. I was really impressed with your Smart Irrigation Module shown to me sometime ago. Smart Agriculture as you said, will improve agriculture in Sierra Leone. God bless all our Sierra Leonean professionals in modern technology and engineering. Amen and Amen.
This is great news for Sierra Leone and Africa in general. The future development of our economies lies with fibre optic connectivity and the speed at which it works. It’s all well and good to train our Youths to able to take part in this fourth industrial revolution, that have so far clearly shown how it can transform how we communicate, and the speed at which it is done.
Optical fibers have replaced old technologies, thereby enhancing, and producing smarter and extraordinary ways of communicating. The only thing that gives me hope about the fourth industrial programme is the involvement of the Rwandan President. You can count on him to make things happen. Unlike our President Bio, Paul Kegame’s dream of transforming his country for his people, his unyielding commitment to make it happen is never in question.
One just have to visit Rwanda, and see how he managed to rescue his country from the depths of despair, wanton killings, due to ethnic rivalry, the worst targeted genocide massacre since the end of second world war, to a glimmer of hope. Today Rwanda is the beacon of hope – not fear. So it should be in Sierra Leone, but right now our country is being short change. You look around our politicians – they are all wedded in their tribal enclaves based on party lines. How much longer can we stay in that tribal Lane of division?
What a dream. Sierra Leone likes to skip the third industrial revolution and directly into the fourth industrial revolution? What about the 70% unemployed people – who will give them a job? The work in the agricultural sector will be done by robots and artificial intelligence?
You are perfectly right Mr Weicha. There are areas where such technologies will hinder the jobs market for our youths. But smart African governments will consider a smart phase out from the old systems to the new ones. I have witnessed a lot of smart prototype modules which are very impressive. Some will be trouble for the jobs market in the short term and others in the long term. But whichever way you look at it, Sierra Leone and Africa must be prepared for what has already started.
I believe that Sierra Leone will be one of the first countries in Africa to have their own children in this new Smart Electronics and Technology age. However, the Sierra Leonean I know, always talk about the need for a reliable internet connection and electricity supply in the country for smart systems to work effectively. That will be the challenge he tells me for Sierra Leone.
I hope African Leaders come together and improve on the internet connection services and electricity supply before seeing their dreams of a Smart Africa materialise. God help Sierra Leone and Africa. God bless Mr Reinhard Weicha for his wise thoughts.