Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sierra Leone’s tech agency wins $773k grant from Gates Foundation

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $773,476 grant to Sierra Leone‘s Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI).

It is to assist it to continue the development of an Integrated GIS Portal that will utilize technology, software and devices to collect, label and model data to inform real-time government and development partner decision making.

The grant will also seek to strengthen the local ecosystem around human capacity development.

This grant for expanding the GIS Portal is in addition to the support already provided by the Foundation to Sierra Leone’s Innovation in Government Human Capacity Development Incubator launched by H.E. President Julius Maada Bio in December 2018 at GoalKeepers South Africa.

“This generous support provided by the Bill & Melinda Foundation will enable DSTI and its collaborators to use low-cost technology solutions like SMS, USSD, interactive voice response, and mobile Apps to provide citizens with real-time information for timely access and receipt of services, and optimize service delivery specifically in the provision of maternal healthcare services,” said Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer.

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“We will further be able to collect and analyze data that will be provided to government service providers to optimize and improve their services both for supply chain and resource allocation.”

The Integrated Geographic Information System (iGIS) Portal 1.0 (www.gis.dsti.gov.sl) is a cross-sectoral spatial data infrastructure and geodatabase. The portal links diverse geographic information datasets from the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and its partners. It supports GoSL in implementing policies and interventions towards the National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals.

H.E. President Bio has prioritized Human Capital Development as a central focus for Sierra Leone (SDG Goals 2, 3, 4 representing Food Security, Healthcare, and Quality Education, respectively). The iGIS portal, designed and implemented by DSTI in collaboration with Statistics Sierra Leone, brings together the data to support this national and Presidential vision.

“The Foundation’s support will serve as the seed funding for the scaling of the Integrated GIS Portal and will support the collection of critical data and develop analyses to promote health, agriculture, environmental, and education outcomes,” said Glenna Wilson, Data Engineer, and GIS Portal Project Lead.

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“By the project’s completion, the government will have the evidence to efficiently target HCD investment resources towards the most impactful interventions and to effectively coordinate investments by government, development partners, NGOs, and the private sector.”

In August 2018, Dr. Sengeh met with Bill Gates as they discussed issues on the intersections of technology and global health service delivery in the lead up to the second edition of Goalkeepers.

A month later, President Bio joined the two innovators at Goalkeepers in New York, where he shared his bold vision to set Sierra Leone in the right direction with a focus on human capital development.

At the launch of the National Innovation and Digital Strategy (NIDS) in Freetown two weeks ago, President Bio thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their continued support of technology for development in Sierra Leone.

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