By Foday Moriba Conteh
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and delegation together with Aminata Kane Ndiaye CEO of Orange Sierra Leone visited the Orange Labs in Paris, France on the 13th November 2019 where they discussed issues bordering on E-education, Smart metering, National identification, OPAL & more to support Sierra Leone.
After the discussions, His Excellency, The President, Julius Maada Bio in an autograph maintained: “As always Orange is an interesting telecommunications company but for this particular visit I am very impressed by the innovations taking place.”
The determination and affirmation of championing the telecommunications digital revolution was first made by Aminata Kane Ndiaye during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) at State House sometime in the recent past.
It will be recalled that when President Julius Maada Bio visited Harvard and MIT in March 2019, Madame Kane Ndiaye, who was present at the meetings promised that Orange would support Sierra Leone’s digital transformation.
Based on the signed MoU with DSTI, a coding school was planned to be established as an innovation hub at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM). Earlier this year IPAM allocated the fifth floor of the Institute’s new building for an innovation hub with a signing of a MoU with DSTI.
IPAM’s commitment has paved the way for Orange to engage DSTI and for the three institutions to form a public-private partnership to meet the shared objectives of supporting the technology and innovation ecosystem in Sierra Leone.
In her statement at the signing of the MoU, Madame Ndiaye said Orange Group seeks to empower young people across the African continent with skills for tomorrow but that the coding school in Sierra Leone will be a first of its kind. “We are here to create an enabling environment for whoever wants to be a part of the revolution that’s going on around the world,” said Madame Ndiaye.
“Writing code is not something you wake up and do; it’s something you need to learn. So this is why we decided to partner with DSTI to make sure that along with English, along with French, along with Krio, Sierra Leoneans can learn how to code.”
She said that the coding school would create new job opportunities for Sierra Leoneans. Orange and many other multinationals operating in the country currently have to bring technologists from different parts of West Africa to do coding and computing in Sierra Leone because those skills are not readily available in the market. She thanked Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI and the Ecosystem technical lead for their openness to collaborate with the private sector.
“IPAM took the lead and generously gave us their best space for the innovation hub, and now with this commitment, Orange is taking us closer to our goals,” said Dr. Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, and DSTI.
“When we do digitization, the private sector in Sierra Leone; the banks and the telecommunications companies are the largest industries, so they are most important. We are engaging with the private sector and linking them with the Government to ensure that the solutions that we implement for Government, can be used by citizens,” he said.
With this partnership, DSTI and Orange SL will bring coding skills to the general public and create a space where anyone with a proven interest in learning computer languages can become a coding expert.
The coding school will officially open its doors to the first class of students at the end of the year. Aminata further disclosed that the company is operating in over twenty five countries across the globe, in over twenty countries in Africa, serving over one hundred and twenty million people.
Orange Sierra Leone CEO made the disclosure during an interview on Facebook live from the United Nations 73rd General Assembly in the United States of America where she was invited by the Global System for Mobile Communications to be part of a panel discussion to chart the way forward on how telecommunication operators could play a role in the development of Africa.
According to her it was the first time for her to be part of the United Nations General Assembly and that one thing she found interesting, constructive and positive about the event, was the great dialogue between public, private sectors, Non-Governmental Organizations, government and businesses.
Many have attested that Orange Sierra Leone has been a trusted partner in development as the company, through various promotions has positively transformed the lives of many. Just recently, the company ended the distribution of sanitary pads to female pupils in twenty secondary schools in Freetown. That was part of the five million dollars pledge that the company committed to the smooth implementation of the Free Quality Education for school-going pupils after realizing that girls do not attend school when they are experiencing their menstrual cycle.
For President Julius Maada Bio heaping such a commendation on Orange Sierra Leone came as a result of no mean accomplishments by the company. It is anticipated that many stand to benefit from the innovation hub at IPAM which obviously will cascade to overall national development.
The CEO stated that Orange will continue to be part of the revolution to transform Sierra Leone as champion in the digital revolution.