In a bid to improve internet connectivity and develop the economy through the improvement of ICT, the Ministry of Information and Communications on 7th August 2018 held a consultative meeting with Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Ministries Department Agencies (MDAs) at the Miatta conference hall Freetown. The meeting which was focused on the institutional framework for the supply of broadband internet through SALCAB using the E- Government platform attracted ICT technical staff of Ministries and MDAs.
Delivery his keynote address, the Hon. Minister of Information and Communications Mohamed Rahman Swaray said, “We are in an ICT generation which challenges the old model of depending on natural resources for the growth and development of a country”. He said other countries have made key transformations without using natural resources but relying on the ICT capability. He added that, it is important for us as a country to embrace ICT for its transformative capacity so that we are able to make up for what we have missed out on as a nation.
He emphasized that, there is a very compelling need for the country to leverage on ICT to transform the way we do businesses as a people, noting the speech of His Excellency at the state opening of parliament where he said that, “if we continue to use the same strategy we get the same result”.
He urged all Permanent Secretaries and Heads of MDAs to employ the use of ICT in the public services like other countries in Sub Sahara Africa. He said many people struggle with the basic use of ICT and encouraged all to start using it. He said Sierra Leone cannot afford to ignore the significance of ICT, and affirmed his Ministry’s commitment to practically taking the bold steps to put in place legal and regulatory framework to create an enabling environment for a driving ICT sector.
He revealed that, government is working on the electronic transaction policy and has got support from international partners to put up a cyber security policy. As the country gain momentum to launch into the new era of national development, they are busy putting together building blocks to ensure that we will get there as a country.
He expressed dismay over the non presence of most of the MDAs on the world wide web he said as a country we cannot be in a 21st century and as well be missing in action on the web.
As a Ministry he said, they are not only going to treat the issue of payment seriously but they will ensure that every MDA is present and updated on their websites. He disclosed that, very soon the Directorate of Communications under his ministry will be working with key stakeholders to roll out practical trainings for MDAs so that we can realize the full benefits of an ever changing global ICT world.
Speaking at the meeting, the chairman of the meeting, Secretary to Cabinet and Head of Civil Service John Sumailah said, the public service sector in Sierra Leone recognizes the importance and potentials Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have in improving the participation and engagement of MDAs in decision making to fully appreciate the implant of ICT in addressing citizens engagements as well as service delivery challenges.
He noted that, with the advent of new ICT tools including internet offers the potential to improve the way government functions are conducted leading to an improved collaboration among MDAs.
He furthered that, the E- Government platform provides easy rollout of Prioritized E- government applications such as integrated financial management system, integrated personnel and payroll system, electronic taxation, community information system and local government information communications systems among many other electronic application systems.
Mr. Sumailah stated that, the E- government platform provides for citizens a new innovative and convenient way of accessing government services in a timely manner adding that, the E-Government provides an opportunity for the public sector to introduce modern business processes and procedures to enhance service delivery to the public. He maintained that it helps MDAs to develop and rollout interactive web portals that offer opportunities for citizens to directly participate in decision making process by providing their suggestions in online communities thereby increasing greater civic engagement in order to increase access to direct representational voice and support for the promotion of our democracy.
He said, before now MDAs used to spend huge sum on internet, it was on that backdrop he added, the government of Sierra Leone requested funds from the Islamic development bank in 2010 for the implementation of the ECOWAN E- government platform. Noting that, this is in line with the aspirations of the new direction to provide not only accessible but affordable internet services for citizens.
Presentations from the key professional partners climaxed the meeting.