January 11, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
ECOWAS Regional Backbone Infrastructure and e-Governance Program, ECOWAN Sierra Leone Project, has been officially handed over to the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SLCAB) for further implementation.
It could be recalled that there was a huge gap among and within ECOWAS countries in terms of the availability, usability and accessibility of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure and services, besides mobile telephony.
Sierra Leone was one of ECOWAS member states and one of the few countries in the sub-region without a national backbone. The country’s telecommunication network and its development were adversely affected during the civil strife.
The public telephone network was largely circuit-switched as opposed to packet switched, and it relied heavily on copper wire rather than fiber optic. Connectivity between Sierra Leone and the outside world was dependent exclusively on expensive satellite with limited availability of high-capacity. This, in addition to a lack of national backbone infrastructure created a difficult environment for expanding communication and internet services.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Building on Lightfoot-Boston Street, ECOWAN Project Coordinator, Sahr Momodu Sewah, said they signed to implement the project for 30 months, with the mandate of providing accessible internet for forty-three (43) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) across the country.
He said as they completed the thirty months period, the Ministry of Information and Communications asked that they hand-over to the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SLCAB for further implementation because they were directly responsible for fiber in the country.
He said the project was well implemented under his regime as they ended up providing internet service to seventy-eight (78) MDAs-far above the stipulated number of 43 across the country.
He disclosed that the project was funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and was estimated at US$28.27m, adding that due to its expansion, the fund was increased to US$30.4m.
He handed over twenty-three (23) Lease Agreements, one Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Seven (7) vehicles, owners registration cards, spare keys for vehicles (AHB837 &AHB 838), one book containing 50 leaves (19800-19849) and 19 leaves (19781-19799) of First International Bank Cheques, spare keys for Add and Drop Multiplexer (ADM), WiMAX sites and many other items.
Receiving the handing-over document, Chief Technical Officer at SLCAB, Abdul Rahman Wurie, said he was impressed with the project implementation, adding that he had visited all the project sites in the country and that they would do their best implementing it further.