Parliament yesterday ratified a loan agreement of $29,452,856 for the modernization and expansion of the network and telecommunications infrastructure of Sierratel.
The loan agreement was provided by the India Government through the ECOWAS Bank for investment and Development for the partial financing of the project for the modernization and expansion of the network and telecommunications infrastructure of Sierratel.
Presenting the Government motion before Parliament, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargbo said the objective of the project involved the replacement of obsolete transmission networks made of copper to a fiber optic and to provide the capacity of Sierratel to commence high speed internet.
The objective is to also construct high capacity trunk rail network between Freetown and other areas and to computerize all aspect of the companies operation to include sound delivery and enhance revenue collection and minimize revenue leakage.
The loan will also aid staff in the operation and maintainace of the network and to expand capable distribution network in Freetown and Lungi and build new network in Portloko, Makeni, Koidu and Moyamba.
The agreement was signed on the 7th May, 2009 and the maturity period of the loan is for 23years with a grace period of 8years with an interest rate of 2.7% per annum.
The deputy Minister revealed that the critical aspect of the project was the fiber optic that will be introduced in to the country to match up with the CDMA facility just introduced by Sierratel.
Reacting to the loan, Hon Eric Jumu of SLPP commended the loan to be a good one for Sierratel that had suffered greatly but questioned the procurement of the materials that would be done in India. He asked whether it was because they provided the loan.
But Hon. Dr. Moses Sesay said India was becoming an emerging power in the world and technology was no exception.
Hon. Ansu Kai- Kai of SLPP called on Parliament to continuously monitor the management of the loan and to also ensure that the fiber optic is benefitted by all in the country.