In a bid to make telecommunication accessible and affordable to the people, President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday 24th April 2009 officially launched the Sierratel CDMA network in Sierra Leone at the Sierratel Earth Station Wilberforce in Freetown. The new 3G (Third Generation) CDMA network or cordless phone was installed by a high profiled Chinese telecommunications outfit, Huawei Technologies Company Limited through a concessional loan from the China Import-Export (Exim) Bank. President Koroma underscored the vital and pivotal steps taken in the process of revitalizing the company and expressed gratitude to China for the loan and technical expertise. The President also highlighted China’s previous contributions to Sierra Leone which included the construction of Youyi Building, National Stadium and the Mange Bureh Bridge. Speaking at the official launching ceremony the Chairman Board of Directors of Sierratel Dr. Tom Obaleh Kargbo gave a brief background of Sierratel and also made mention of the previous problems that wrecked the company. He expressed gratitude to the Government and the Board for making the CDMA projects a reality. He also said “we had debates with the Board over several issues that will ensure the speedy revitalization of the company to make it go ahead smoothly”. Dr. Kargbo furthered that China had played a very instrumental role in providing the loan, adding that a Chinese company called Huawei was also contracted for the provision of logistics and technical expertise. He commended Pinnacle for their effective and reliable Marketing strategy that contributed in making the project a success. For his part the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone spoke about the cordial and bilateral relationship between China and Sierra Leone which has grown from strength to strength. ”We are true friends.” he stressed. The Chinese ambassador stated that his country remains committed and determined to support the Government and People of Sierra Leone with their development agenda and support to telecommunication is also part of their priority. He further assured all that Huawai is a credible, effective and one of the largest company that has been in the telecommunication business since 1988 with their presence in over 122 countries, with $23billion worth of investment. Concluding the ambassador sent a congratulatory message to the Government and people of Sierra Leone as they celebrate the 48th Independence. The track record of Huawei Technologies Company in Asia, America and Africa in terms of telecommunications technology is exceptional according to Zhao Ming, Vice President of wireless communications. He explained about CDMA products and services to users, giving the assurance that the CDMA services are reliable, effective and fast. Huawei’s innovative third generation CDMA network solutions have enabled China Telecom to upgrade its existing CDMA 20001X networks to third generation EVDO (Evolution-data Optimised) while lowering deployment costs and ensuring uninterrupted services. The world class mobile communications technology is expected to generate enormous economic and social benefits for Sierra Leone as it is not only cheap but very efficient. The Minister of Information Ibrahim Ben Kargbo expressed thanks and appreciation to the Chinese Government and the contractors for their efforts in revitalizing the company adding that university students stand to benefit from technological training. The Minister also said that the Government has been accepted as the 31st Country to work with India on the Pan African E Network Project to make Connaught Hospital and other educational institutions have a linkage and exchange programs. The Minister also said because of the quality of their network, the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Information and Communication has contracted Huawei to implement the Integrated E-Government and Optical Transmission Backbone project that will serve the entire country. This project will take onboard, e-health, e-education, e-Custom, e-Tax, e-Security and the optical backbone. Delivering the Vote of thanks the Managing Director of Sierratel Alpha Sesay expressed gratitude to the Government of Sierra Leone and China. He further promised to give ($100, 000) one hundred thousand dollars to the consolidated fund. He assured that Sierratel CDMA network is now operational in nine districts and the western area noting that other areas will soon be targeted to make the Sierratel network nationwide which will be accessible at an affordable price to all Sierra Leoneans. A conducted tour of Sierratel facilities by the President and guests formed a high point of the launching ceremony.