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Reply with quote  #1 

Why Sierra Leone appointed a 31-year old MIT PhD as its first chief innovation officer

Cars are seen driving down a street in Aberdeen neighborhood of Freetown
Freetown, Sierra Leone (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)
7 hours ago Quartz Africa

For years, particularly over the last decade, African countries have championed the idea of solving the continent’s myriad of problems with innovation and innovative thinkers. Many governments have done this through the traditional approach of recruiting scientists and academics within government departments of “science and technology” or “ICT & innovation”.

While those approaches have had some successes depending on the country, few have walked the walk and tried to put innovation and innovative philosophy front and center of their government. One such government has been Rwanda which hosted this year’s Next Einstein Forum of scientists and mathematicians and launched an innovation fund of $100 million, with 30% of funding coming from the African Development Bank.

But Sierra Leone is taking it one step further by appointing its first chief innovation officer to head the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation which has been newly created by the recently electedpresident Julius Maada Bio, 54.

What makes Moinina David Sengeh’s appointment markedly different is that he will be operating within the Office of the President, unlike like the others on the continent, which are locked into the traditional governance structure and slow-moving bureaucracy of government ministries. “The directorate will facilitate and support a vibrant national innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem for both public and private sectors,” says a statement from the president’s office.

It’s perhaps the most ambitious attempt by one of the continent’s beleaguered nations to jumpstart its economy by elevating the role of innovation in its day to day dealings.

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TED: David Sengeh: The sore problem of prosthetic limbs - David Sengeh (2014) 


The sore problem of prosthetic limbs

What drove David Sengeh to create a more comfortable prosthetic limb? He grew up in Sierra Leone, and too many of the people he loves are missing limbs after the brutal civil war there. When he...

Sengeh, 31, studied at Harvard and MIT for his PhD where his thesis was about improving prosthetic comfort for amputees, a beneficial area of study as a citizen of a country where years of war left about 27,000 people disabled. At the time of his appointment, he was working with IBM Research Lab in Nairobi focusing on the design and deployment of healthcare technologies in Africa.

He has also been involved with Innovate Salone, a social action project to nurture creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit among Sierra Leonean youths.

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 179th on the UN’s Human Development Index. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2016 set back the marginal progress that had been made after the war and his expertise will be handy as the country rebuilds especially its health system. So, while this will not transform Sierra Leone into an innovation fortress overnight, it is a crucial step forward which should be emulated by others.

Spectator 007
Reply with quote  #2 
The question I’d like him to respond to in an interview is why he accepted given his impeccable high-tech background.
Salone Baby
Reply with quote  #3 
I have no doubt he is a brilliant mind but he won't last with the people he has been lumped with. There is no innovative thinking in many of those people and he will become frustrated like many bright minds before him. The other problem is that you need finance to make great ideas happen. Will his department be allocated the money it requires?
Reply with quote  #4 
"I have no doubt he is a brilliant mind but he won't last with the people he has been lumped with."  Salone Baby

Salone Baby,

I feel sorry for miserable lives like you.  Are you going to be like this for all ten years of Maada Bio's presidency, praying for the worst for Sierra Leone?

You have no idea as to who Moinina Sengeh is.  I have known him since he was a child and I can tell you for a fact that he is in his dream job right now in Sierra Leone.  Do you remember the Salone whiz kid, by the name of Kelvin Doe?  That was the kid who at 15 built a radio transmitter in Salone.  Do you know how Kelvin got to present his research at the powerful Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)?  The answer is Moinina Sengeh.  It was Dr. Moinina Sengeh, then a Ph.D student at MIT that coordinated Kelvin Doe's work at the famous MIT.

Besides, have you ever heard of a program called "Innovate Salone"?  Chew on this from MIT News:

Bringing innovation home

"Last spring, Sengeh created a program to foster innovation among high-school students in Sierra Leone. Called Innovate Salone, the concept was modeled after MIT’s innovation competitions, in which teams work on the creation of new devices or services.

But more than just a competition, Innovate Salone is a mentorship program and set of workshops where Sierra Leone’s youth can get help in developing their ideas. In just six weeks, the program attracted 300 students who worked on 72 different projects, Sengeh says, related to health, agriculture, household chores, crafts and entertainment. The idea was to “get people in the community to think about innovations that they can embrace, to have a positive impact on society [and] to get high-school kids around the country to think about a problem, and how to solve it.”  MIT News

Look, those of us on in the Boston, Massachusetts area are very familiar with Moinina and his work.  He was frustrated by Ernest Koroma and the APC simply because he is Mende. Maada Bio reached out to him and the interest was mutual.  And you say he won't last with the people around him?  Hahaha.  He is with his people and he is very happy.  Expect Salone kids in the next few years to start winning scholarships to Harvard and MIT. 

And you talk about funding?  You must be out of your freaking mind.  Have you ever lived in the United States?  Look, Dr. Sengeh has more funding for his work than he can handle.  All he always wanted was an opportunity to serve his country.  APC denied him.  SLPP embraced him.   Hello!!! the Athens of West Africa will rise again!!!

Titi lef Bad Hart!!!

Salone Baby
Reply with quote  #5 
Olufemi, I do know that the man is gifted. No doubt about it. But he doesn't have his own funding partly because he is essentially a post-doc ie he just finished his PhD in the last 3 years. I know he's won a number of prizes in his field but I maintain that he is not amongst brilliant minds in this government and he needs to convince funders not only to back him but those around him. Not all of us are easily enamoured. Some of us know how these things work.
Spectator 007
Reply with quote  #6 
“. I know he's won a number of prizes in his field but I maintain that he is not amongst brilliant minds in this government and he needs to convince funders not only to back him but those around him.” - Salone Baby

Public policy is obviously not his strength but in applied science and engineering he clearly has to be right up there. Leh dem lef dem cabinet job cam compete for woke wit am na dis dunia (USA) enh see wis wan go make serious korpor in the long run.
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