Global: Sierra Leone Seeks $150 Million to Establish Digital Innovation and Investment Hub

Sierra Leone Seeks $150 Million to Establish Digital Innovation and Investment Hub
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Sierra Leone is embarking on an ambitious project to foster startups and innovators by establishing a digital innovation and investment hub, aiming to raise $150 million for this initiative. The country’s small size, with a GDP of just under $4 billion in 2023 and a population of 8.7 million, positions it well to adapt swiftly in an ever-changing global landscape, according to the minister.

The proposed Tech City will be located within a 130-acre special economic zone in Tikonko, Bo District, approximately 250 km east of Freetown. An essential element of the Tech City strategy involves securing commitments from corporations to develop facilities within the zone, including data centers and technology schools.

Job creation is a key priority, with plans to establish business process outsourcing centers featuring 10,000 to 15,000 computer seats and manufacturing facilities with device assembly lines.

Private Sector and Development Support

Private sector players, such as Africell and Orange Sierra Leone, are backing the new digital policy, with early grants from development financial institutions. Shadi Gerjawi, head of Africell Sierra Leone, confirmed the company’s commitment to building a data center in Tech City.

Complementary Projects and Industry Support

In March 2024, Hollywood actor Idris Elba announced his plans to transform Sherbro Island, located off the coast of Sierra Leone, into an eco-friendly smart city focusing on creative industries and innovative projects. According to Salima Bah, this project will not conflict with Tech City plans. She emphasized the potential for both developments to complement each other, avoiding unnecessary cost increases due to duplicated efforts.

Recent Developments

Additionally, Starlink, the satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, became available in Sierra Leone just a week ago, a year after it received its license. This development is expected to significantly enhance internet connectivity in the country, further supporting the digital innovation initiatives.

David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s 31-year-old Chief Innovation Officer, highlighted the importance of these projects in driving the nation’s digital transformation and economic growth. The combined efforts of government, private sector, and international partners aim to position Sierra Leone as a hub for technological innovation and investment in the region.

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