...as P’ment ratifies Telecommunications Amendment Act, 2015
March 10, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Parliament last Friday enacted the Telecommunications (Amendment) Act, 2015, which in effect terminates the monopoly enjoyed by the Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company in the operations of the gateway.
While presenting the draft bill in Parliament, deputy Minister of Justice, John Arrow Bockarie, said the bill would help promote telecommunication in the country, liberalise the internal gateway as well as guarantee a secured flow of revenue as lots of funds had been lost in the past. He added that the bill would also minimise, if not eradicate security threats to the country’s telecommunications industry.
The deputy Minister of Justice further told lawmakers that the bill is geared towards providing what he referred to as healthy communication and technical support, to be supervised and monitored by the National Telecommunications Company.
Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication, Hon. Binneh Bangura, said the amendment was not controversial as rebranding the country had been on the cards, while the bill would help rescue a lot of revenue.
Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally said to liberalise means to introduce competition and were such to be introduced, user fees will increase as Sierratel’s monopoly will be terminated.
He expressed hope that the bill would benefit the grassroots and ease the economic burden on telecom users, and that NATCOM would provide technical support to the operations.
Hon. Hassan Sesay of Constituency 59 in Tonkolili District said everyone was aware of the impact of monopoly on the telecom gateway, and that liberalisation would eliminate that.
According to him, the bill would provide economic benefit and present opportunities to monitor control cost if better mechanisms were put in place, adding that, “We have seen countries that have benefited in monopolising the liberalisation of the gateway”.
The bill was unanimously ratified by lawmakers, thus for the first time liberalising the telecom gateway in Sierra Leone, hitherto monopolised by the state-owned telecommunication company – Sierratel.