Pacesetters Surface at NATCOM
…inject new energy to Sanitise system
April With Joseph S. Margai
Telecommunications regulators in every country have their own challenges, but surmounting them entails eloquence and dedication.
Since his election into office, President Julius Maada Bio, who many political commentators have described as a ‘Magulifying charater, he appointed sober-minded commissioners to improve the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM).
President Bio also appointed both the Director General and his deputy, whom many workers of NATCOM have described as pacesetters.
Maxwell Massaquoi and Daniel B. Kaitibi, the Director General and his deputy have changed the status quo at the Commission.
Popularly known as the ‘twin brothers’, both the director general and his deputy have worked closely with their management and staff to improve on Sierra Leone’s sole telecommunications regulatory institution.
Staff motivation was firstly prioritised when they took over. At the moment, it is difficult to distinguish the difference between the director general and the drivers.
In fact, during the NATCOM’s staff and management retreat in Bo on 5th April, 2019, the highly-motivated staff were singing the praises of the director general and his deputy.
This was manifested and reinforced by Momoh Koroma, a driver at NATCOM, who said since the new administration came to office, under President Bio’s ‘New Direction’ administration, their welfare has been 100 percent improved.
“We have got lot of facilities that we were denied under the previous administration. There is a very cordial relationship between us and both the director general and his deputy. There is no more barrier between the junior and senior staff. They always come to us and ask about our problems and if there is any, they will find a way to address it,” he said.
He said that was the first time drivers were invited and involved in the staff and management retreat.
Previously, the drivers were denied access to the annual staff and management retreat. But they have, for the first time in the history of NATCOM, invited to participate in the 2019 retreat, where they were given chance to express their problems.
In fact, during the previous administration, an increment of 30 percent was made on the salary of staff and management. But the former administration reverted to reducing it to 15 percent, which the staff regarded as derogatory.
When the ‘twin brothers’, (the director general and his deputy) took over, they reverted to going forward with the 30 percent increment. And the staff and management are now happy!
Repairing and restoring of the physical structure at its headquarters in Hill Station was another desire. Both of them inherited a leaking-roofed-NATCOM head office, but with desire to enhance transformation, they have resolved such problem.
Previously, NATCOM was spending over 500 million Leones annually on water bowsers to get water at its headquarter office on Hill Station. That amount was alarming but the new administration has swiftly moved ahead to spend little over 100 million Leones to prepare a borehole in the compound.
Already, plans are underway to continue to decentralise NATCOM’s office. The management has strongly considered establishing two branches in both east of Freetown and Waterloo, Western Area Rural District’s headquarter.
The new leadership has significantly improved the revenue base of the Commission.
Regarding improper sim card registration as a threat to national security, the new administration has embarked on arresting and removing all sim card hawkers from the street of Sierra Leone.
This was confirmed during the 2019 staff and management retreat in Bo city, Southern Sierra Leone, by the Manager of NATCOM’s Department of Regulatory Affairs (DRA) Abdul Kamara.
“Our institution has arrested 45 suspects nationwide in relation to improper sim cards registration since January 2019. Some of the suspects are in police custody for further investigation while some of them have been already charged to court. We have reviewed new regulatory which included penalty for providing wrong information and penalty for failure to register correct information,” he said.
NATCOM’s director general, Maxwell Massaquoi, also re-echoed that they are cognizance of the fact that sim card registration has national security implications.
“Operators have even told us to bring in the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) because NCRA has database of registered citizens who obtain national identity cards. So we are working to address some of the existing problems using technology,” he said.
The director general and his deputy have surfaced to rebrand NATCOM and also ensure that the institution generated the needed revenue for the government of Sierra Leone.