Sierra Leone has taken decisive strides towards integrating open science principles, fostering collaborative research, and positioning itself as a progressive player in the global research landscape. A week of activities and engagements in Freetown bolstered the critical steps taken by vital stakeholders of research, science and innovation in the West African country.

At the 6th LIBSENSE National Open Science Symposium in Freetown, the Sierra Leone Research and Education Network (SLREN) and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) led other key stakeholders, including libraries, IT, and funding entities to deliberate on key issues on open science – infrastructure, policy development, and capacity enhancement. The symposium laid the foundation for a comprehensive national open science policy and a robust action plan.

Day one focused on broad-based discussions on thematic issues in open science, while day two was dedicated to brainstorming sessions on the steps required to drive the open science agenda.

Two key resolutions emerged:

Resolution 1: Establish a task force to develop a national open science policy

The participants unanimously proposed that MTHE promote open science principles by engaging in an inter-ministerial discussion with the Ministry of Communication, Technology & Innovation (MCTI) to establish a task force to formulate a comprehensive national open science policy and a detailed plan for its successful execution and supervision.

A collective of experts was identified from diverse domains, including the  Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), SLREN, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Conference of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP), and National Science, Technology & Innovation Council (NSTIC) as primary members.

Resolution 2: Create a supportive environment for open science practices

The participants also recommended that SLREN leverage its higher education and research communities in collaboration with WACREN and the AfricaConnect3 project to build capacity to support establishing and maintaining open science infrastructures aligned with international standards.

The Minister, MTHE, Dr Haja Ramatulai Wurie, was pleased with the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders and thanked WACREN for extending LIBSENSE activities to Sierra Leone. She tasked the Chair of the Conference of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to lead the task force with the Director of Science Education as MTHE focal point.