Sierra Leone Minister of Communications, Technology and Innovation Madam Haja Salimatu Bah has participated at the China-Africa Forum on Digital capacity Building Cooperation held in Beijing, China.
Delivering her Speech, Minister Bah said that Science, Technology and Innovation have been key priority under the leadership of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio. His determination towards this direction is clearly evidenced when Mr. President in his first term in governance established the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The youngest Minister in President Bio’s administration went on to say that for a digital economy to thrive, the future workforce of any nation must be skilled in Technology.
“This justifies why the Government of Sierra Leone over the past five years to date committed 20 to 22% of the national budget on education thereby prioritizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses throughout Sierra Leone’s educational system with specific emphasis on the girl child” the Minister said.
She furthered that under the leadership of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, the Government of Sierra Leone placed the utmost importance on providing internet access for every Sierra Leonean regardless of socioeconomic status.
Government is determined to improve internet connectivity and narrowing the gap between those who do and those who do not have access to the internet, the Communications, Technology and Innovation Minister added.
She emphasised that internet access is considered by the Bio administration as not a luxury but a fundamental human right, disclosing that with strong collaboration with Chinese Companies such as Huawei, the Country has expanded its fibre backbone in 14 out of 16 districts.
Minister Bah furthered that Sierra Leone is a key player in the Giga initiative, UNICEF and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) programs to ensure every school is connected to the internet in order to enable School going children to develop digital skills and access online learning.
She stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership between Governments and Private Sectors as a way of harnessing the power of technology in addressing global challenges such as Climate Change, Social Inequality and Poverty. She went on to highlight the role of technology during the COVID Epidemic and how Sierra Leone through science and technology became one of the least affected Countries and among the last three Countries to register COVID case.
She concluded by recognising that in as much as the Country always celebrate its achievements but it is still aware that there are more to be done in order to achieving our digital transformation goals.
Therefore, he ended that the Government has recently announced its five key agenda of which she clearly labelled out technology as the engine to achieving development goals.