The Minister of Information and Communication Ibrahim Ben Kargbo has said that the Government of Sierra Leone will soon liberalize the mobile gateway which has been monopolized over the years by SIERRATEL
In an apparent follow up to the adoption of the National Information Communication Technology Policy (NICTP) in the second half of last year by the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL), Ibrahim Ben Kargbo announced that the International Gateway will be liberalized as a precursor to the a project to land fiber optics in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s International Gateway, which is basically a route through which a country establishes voice, calls and data (internet) connectivity with the rest of the world was monopolized in 2006 by an Act of Parliament which required that Sierratel shall operate the only international gateway in the country.
This resulted in mobile and Internet service providers being compelled to shut down their respective gateways and use the international gateway of Sierratel for the passing of their international electronic traffic.
In his address recently in Bo the Minister said that an ICT Council will be set up to oversee by no lesser person than the President himself to accelerate implementation of ICT policy and strategic issues such as the fiber optic landing and the international gateway.
The Minister stated that the reason was to enable Sierratel to generate income to transform it from a dormant institution to a viable and competitive player in the telecommunications industry.
He said that a delegation will be traveling to France in the first week of June, 2010 to sign off the implementation phase of the fiber optic project. With the undersea fiber optic cable project on track and set to commence in November 2011, a prerequisite would be to remove the provision of the law that had outlawed the operation of any other International gateway in Sierra Leone apart from Sierratel’s.
It must have been music to the collective ears of mobile and internet service providers as they would once again be free to switch on their gateways and use the undersea cable with its many technological advantages.
The ultimate benefit would be to the consumers who may find it easier to connect with the outside world at cheaper rates and higher voice clarity and call success rate. In respect of the internet, it is expected that the fiber optic project would provide ‘real’ broadband speed internet connectivity to a far wider consumer base for far more affordable cost.
By Saidu Bah