How technology can help reboot Ebola-free Sierra Leone

The World Health Organization has declared that Sierra Leone is now Ebola-free.

Story highlights

  • Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization
  • Morris Marah is launching Sierra Leone's first technology hub in Freetown
  • The hub's founders believe that technology can help rebuild the private sector

(CNN)Morris Marah was working in the Sierra Leonean High Commission in London when the devastating Ebola outbreak struck his country last year.

Desperate to help, he went home; first to volunteer in a community health center, then by applying his technology skills to build an SMS-based platform that disseminated weekly information and advice on how to avoid contracting the disease to more than 500,000 people.
    "I felt, sitting in London there wasn't much I could do from that far away. I wanted desperately to come out here and see how I could be useful," he says over the phone from the capital, Freetown.
    Working on that platform, called Sensi, and on other public health initiatives demonstrated how successfully technology could be leveraged for social good, and inspired him to look for ways to bring the country's small, but talented, tech community together to help restart the country's stalled economy.
    "Sierra Leone is a unique country, and a very resilient one. They've been through a civil war and bounced back. They've been through an unimaginable public health crisis, and I'm sure they'll bounce back from that," Marah says.

    Waiting for the all-clear

    The new Sensi Technology Innovation Hub hopes to help the country rebuild after its Ebola crisis
    This week, as the country held its breath in anticipation of being declared free of the disease, Marah is launching the first technology innovation hub, the Sensi Tech Hub, in Freetown.
    "We can help contribute by shaping the platform that will exist to enable young businesses to get visibility, that will enable young programmers to innovate... to enable young entrepreneurs, young designers and inventors to have that maker space that they can go to and get advice and get linked to mentors. ," he says.
    "We're just going to fill that gap that we believe is missing in the country — that one space that everyone can look at to innovate and build towards the future."