Sierra Leone: President Bio visits Harvard, MIT to further research and innovation partnerships

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The President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio will visit Harvard and MIT; leading global institutions of higher learning, research, and innovation, in Boston, USA. H.E. President Bio will engage with students, researchers, and faculty as he builds partnerships for technical and academic exchange. Sierra Leone has committed 21% of its national budget to education as part of a new government strategy for sustainable growth that prioritizes human capital development.

In August 2018, President Bio launched the Free Quality Education Project (FQEP) for all Sierra Leonean children from primary to secondary school. The FQEP covers tuition and learning materials for core subjects like English and Mathematics. As a result, an estimated 2 million school children in government and government-assisted schools now have access to free education.

“By investing our resources in free, quality teaching and learning, we are investing in human capital and empowering our youth to be the generation that will end poverty in our time,” said President Bio.

Besides investments in education, President Bio inaugurated the country’s first Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) and the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, both at the Office of the President. DSTI Sierra Leone is the manifestation of the President’s vision to harness technology for national development and create ecosystems for Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs to thrive and compete globally.

At Harvard and MIT, President Bio will share the policies that he has put in place to enhance government performance and service delivery. Specifically at the Forum on Sierra Leone hosted at the Harvard Law School, President Bio will participate in an open public forum with lectures by distinguished faculty from Harvard and Tufts University.

While the President’s visit is to strengthen ties, Sierra Leone already benefits from technical support from both Harvard and MIT. Several current members of cabinet will participate at the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program where they’ll receive technical support shaped by their policy goals and specific needs. In addition, the Mayor of Freetown City Council is a beneficiary of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

There are MIT faculty, researchers and students currently embedded at DSTI Sierra Leone where they are collaborating with local scientists to develop solutions that range from data mapping for an integrated national revenue and expense platform, to a USSD service that will monitor water levels in reservoirs and send SMS alerts to citizens and relevant government agencies.

The President’s visit to Harvard and MIT will take place on March 7-8 2019. MIT Media Lab and Chairman Emeritus Nicholas Negroponte, and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito will host President Bio at the Media Lab. Later H E Julius Bio will speak at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School (“Harvard’s premier arena for political speech”). Prior to participation in the Forum on Sierra Leone, President Bio will meet with Harvard President Larry Bacow and several Deans across the University. To culminate the trip, an Investor Dinner focussed on Sierra Leone will be hosted at the Harvard Faculty Club bringing together potential and current investors in Sierra Leone. President Bio will be accompanied by senior-level members of the cabinet and Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. David Sengeh, who is an alum of both Harvard, and MIT.