April 9, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq., has expressed that he was impressed with about the just concluded National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) 2019 retreat for staff and management.
The four-day retreat, which was held at the Galliness Paradise in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone, from 4th-7th April 2019, attracted the participation of both the Director General and his deputy including the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications and management and staff of the Commission.
The theme of the retreat was ‘Moving towards the New Direction’, of which the deputy information minister said it was part of the strategy for NATCOM to match up with the ‘New Direction’ policy.
“We now have the medium term national development plan, which was formulated from the ‘New Direction’ manifesto. All of us know that information, communications and technology (ICT) has to play a huge role to get a giant lip in Sierra Leone’s development, and NATCOM is very critical in this regard,” he said.
He noted that it was good for NATCOM, at the level of management and staff, to hold a retreat.
The deputy information minister said part of the reasons for the retreat was to firstly be able to determine the level of appreciation of staff relating to the issues in their respective units, and secondly, to begin to benchmark NATCOM with international best practices.
“I am not aware if this was happening in the past, wherein staff and management were brought into the same room to appraise themselves, and look at the gap in their institutional policies. From the political level, we would always give them all the needed supports,” he said.
He said in terms of the structure, his ministry knows that NATCOM has a board of commissioners, chairman of the board, the director general and his deputy, directors of units and filter down to the staff, and most of the departmental heads were casting aspersion on the past.
“They said the reason for their poor condition was as a result of the past administration. Well, some of the members of the past administration are no longer at NATCOM to vindicate themselves. This is the ‘New Direction’ that is seriously determined to improve on many things,” he noted.
He praised NATCOM’s Director General, Maxwell Massaquoi, whom he said is always determined and resilient to solve every problem of the institution.
He warned every staff of NATCOM that under the ‘New Direction’ it is no longer business as usual, noting that Sierra Leone is in a hurry for development and ICT landscape has to be changed, and that NATCOM has a huge role to play in that direction.
In relation to improper sim card registration, he said it has wider national security implications, adding that NATCOM was coming up with very strong legislative provisions to tackle any mobile network operator that fails to do proper registration of sim cards.
“As a ministry, in collaboration with NATCOM and other agencies, we are trying to review the Telecommunications Act of 2006, to enable us to have a holistic communications law. Secondly, we want to have a secondary regulation in place, which will deal with issues of spectrum, licenses, sim card registration, among others,” he stated.
According to him, his ministry has realised that NATCOM was not having a very predictable environment and that was what the mobile network operators were saying.
“Part of the things that this retreat would help us to achieve is to get a predictable regime. For instance, if someone wants licenses in the various categories, from NATCOM’s website, that individual would get an idea about them,” he said.