Digital Principles as the North Star to Sierra Leone’s Digital Transformation Journey

Since the release of the Digital Impact Alliance’s 2021-2016 Strategic Plan, the team has refined and built upon existing resources to support global stakeholders accelerate national digital transformation, build global cooperation, and connect, support, and scale proven solutions. Leveraging these tools and applying these approaches on a practical level over the past year, DIAL has worked alongside Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to build out the latter’s Enterprise Architecture (EA) plan: a customized and comprehensive set of processes, frameworks, policies, guidelines and tools aimed at advancing the government’s digital transformation, responsible data use strategy and ultimately, digital capacity.  

DIAL has spent most of 2021 working with MIC to develop provisions on how Sierra Leone can leverage ICT to stimulate growth and achieve its digital economy goal by 2029 through the National Digital Development Policy (NDDP) and National Digital Development Strategy (NDDS). Because MIC’s central challenge was its foundational infrastructure, it was an opportune moment to introduce them to the Principles for Digital Development. As a common program design framework, the Digital Principles were inherently fundamental to build ICT capability, helping strengthen leadership, donor and institutional coordination, and effectively achieve digital transformation.  

Key DIAL staff were on the ground in Freetown on Tuesday, November 30th through Thursday, December 1st to run the Digital Principles 101 workshop and training-of-trainers. Roughly 25 lead government IT practitioners were in attendance, eager to create a strong knowledge base on how to roll out sustainable digital solutions and align with colleagues across departments for the design and implementation of the EA plan. 

Mohamed Jalloh, Director of Communication at MIC, stated that the trainings were a “critical opportunity” due to the budding nature of the country’s ongoing and future digital transformation journey, as well as to showcase Sierra Leone’s commitment to global standards. 

“This is an opportune time for partners to actually support Sierra Leone to ensure that we are able to develop systems that would meet international benchmarks,“ he said in a recent interview.  

Dr. Ransford Mensah, Country Lead at DIAL, added: “The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio is really pushing for a digital economy…the benefit of the workshops is to make sure the government and senior practitioners have the same level of thinking in terms of being data driven and ensure that existing resources are leveraged.” 

The Digital Principles are woven into MIC’s EA plans by helping the departments establish a common language to better deliver cross government services, enhancing collaboration, identifying reusable and sharable services and applications, analyzing IT investments, and enabling more efficient and timely delivery of e-Services. 

The Digital Principles were only the beginning of a series of capacity building workshops for the Sierra Leone government but has already laid a strong foundation for other DIAL teams to work with MIC to ensure that the ICT arm of the government possesses the requisite skills for effective implementation of digital initiatives. 

DIAL and MIC will continue to work together into FY22 to develop the whole-of-government EA capability, which will help them improve the integration and alignment of decision making about strategic directions, policies and standards and position themselves best for the future.