By Bai-Bai Sesay :
President Ernest Bai Koroma has succeeded in updating the country’s communications system through his current commitment and dedicated leadership in his four years in power. Let us look at the president’s work in enhancing the information, communications and technology sectors in the country. President Koroma made a pledge to his people during his electioneering campaign on various matters, including the communications sector and he has proved his mettle by fulfilling the pledge he had made in modernizing the information, communications and technology sector before the expiration of his first term in office.
BAI -BAI SESAY
We have seen a considerable progress in the information, communications and technology sector and this new initiative has impacted positively nationwide. The nation’s telecommunications regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) continues to make considerable impact on the lives of the people of Sierra Leone and this is felt across the country.
Sierra Leone has established a national ICT Council which is headed by no less a person than the President of this country. This we all know will help in the monitoring of all ICT businesses operating in the country. An added success of the telecoms sector will emerge when the much expected landing of the submarine fiber optic cable is finally established. This will link the country to the rest of the world, a national backbone which will improve the connectivity of the country by close to 80% before 2015.
No doubt, the country’s erudite and able Minister of Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo is working to put the modalities right and he has done a lot in this direction. It is no secret that this will be one of the greatest leap forward for telecommunications in Sierra Leone as we will now be connected with the outside world through modern technology instead of moribund systems and machinery as was the case in the country.
On a more important note, the establishment of the submarine fiber optic cable will help to reduce the high tariffs, cause an expansion of the internet connectivity and support the facilitation of television and radio digital broadcasting in the country.
Today, Sierra Leone is among countries in the sub-region that can now boast with pride about the new system of communications under the dynamic leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
President Koroma has also initiated the transformation of the former Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services into the newly established Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation. This Corporation is an independent entity of the government, providing an equal play ground, especially for the political parties to have the chance to talk to their people via radio talk shows and television programming. We are also looking forward to the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill and the Criminal Seditious Libel law to be repealed in our law books which has been responsible for the jailing of media practitioners in the country.
Sierra Leone is also taking steps forward in closing the technology gap between its rural and urban citizens. Thanks to the numerous mobile companies in the country communication has now been made easier in the country. This will encourage foreign investors to do business in a friendly atmosphere.
We also see large numbers of radio stations and newspapers operating in the country under the monitoring and supervision of the Independent Media Commission (IMC).
The government of President Koroma has pledged to build similar internet centers in several other rural villages to expand the internet and mobile connectivity of the less privileged villager to have access to communications.
We believe the establishment of the Universal Access Development Fund in 2010 will also help to enhance rural connectivity for sustainable solutions which according to IT experts will yield dividend. All these sectors put together will help Sierra Leone’s achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs’ success largely depends on the extent to which the potentials of the rural communities can be realized and fully developed.
Therefore, we believe that there is an urgent need to transform the current unsustainable socio economic and political landscape of the rural communities so that it will improve the communication technologies of these communities. That is why I believe that President Ernest Bai Koroma has gone a long way in putting Sierra Leone on the information technology and communication map. The president should indeed be praised for his great works.