August 24, 2015
Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Alpha Kanu, has delivered a comprehensive lecture on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in the post-Ebola recovery at a Private Sector Resilience, Recovery and Resurgence workshop held at Sierra Lighthouse Hotel in Aberdeen on 20 August.
In his presentation, the minister emphasised the need for the private sector to tap into infinite opportunities the ICT sector is providing, noting that the latter needs to collaborate with government in order to leverage opportunities in the critical ICT infrastructure government has already put in place.
Mr. Kanu noted that government has laid the fibre optic cable, making it easier for Internet service providers and telecom operators to grasp opportunities in the magnetic spectrum, adding that the fibre has been laid right through to Gbalamuya on the Guinea border and Gendema on the Liberia border. “The fibre in Sierra Leone is like a cobweb as we have points of presence in all the districts of the country,” he informed his audience.
He however said that the effect of the fibre optic cable has still not reach homes of customers because the last mile is yet to be accomplished, which he encouraged the private sector to invest in. He stated that if the private sector fails to complete the last mile, government would endeavour to do so in order to meet the needs of its people.
The minister further disclosed that government will sell one megabyte to Internet Service Providers and telecom operators for $88, noting that they currently sell to customers for an inflated price of US$1500, adding that they will have to significantly reduce the price after the completion of the remaining one mile.
He said government has build the infrastructure and is now waiting for the private sector to do their own bit, adding that in the following week all MDAs will be connected to the fiber as the switch will be activated to enhance e-governance and other relevant use of ICT in government departments.
Kanu noted that to harness numerous benefits on ICT, four stages will be taken into cognizance: infrastructure, which the government has done by laying the fibre optic cable; regulation, which has to provide the necessary regulatory mechanism to control the use of the internet in the country; education, which has to do with the acquisition of ICT knowledge; and application, which leads to result.
Speaking on the impact of Ebola on the ICT community and post-Ebola recovery programmes, chairman for the Internet Society (Sierra Leone Chapter), Dominic Lamin, noted that the outbreak of Ebola has seriously impeded development in the sector.
He however applauded the government for its continued effort in providing leadership in the improvement of the sector and encouraged the latter to continue to provide opportunities for the ICT community, such as to provide soft fund to support young talents to realise their dreams in the field of ICT.
A representative of the chairman of NATCOM, acting Director General, Senesie Kallon, said the commission has been working to ensure that the sector is well regulated, but has been faced with a lot of challenges, including regulating the social media, mobile money and the like, although he assured his audience that they are working hard to overcome some of these challenges.