Lawmakers caution new NATCOM Board Chair


September 11, 2019

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of the Appointment and Public Service Committee yesterday cautioned the newly appointed Board Chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Alhaji Fouad Sheriff, to work within the confines of his powers.

Opposition Whip, Hon. Hassan A. Sesay, questioned the nominee as to what difference he will make in the commission since there were issues regarding the role and function of the chairman.

He reminded him that the day- to- day running of the commission is purely the business of management and not the chairman, whose time in the office should be on a periodical basis.

He noted that the committee would not want to see misunderstanding among them as a result of power struggle, thus urging the nominee to transmit his knowledge  he had gained in the fisheries sector to transform  the commission.

Hon. Bashiru Silikie said the chairman was going to the commission at a very crucial moment in the history of telecommunications in the country- cyber security.

He said Members of Parliament have been faced with a situation wherein their names were used to extort money from members of the public and major stakeholders, stating that the country was yet to get to the stage wherein perpetrators would be captured and brought to justice.

He called on the nominee to be hard with network providers as well as his management team, stating that the telecom industry is the backbone in the development of the country.

Hon. Veronica K. Sesay also admonished the nominee to work in accordance with his role and that he should know his limitation as chairman and not an Executive Chairman of the commission.

She said the nominee should work with the management at the commission as the seat he was about to occupy was very hot; hence he should know the distinctive role he would be playing.

Coalition for Change (C4C) Hon. Paul Saa Sam, said the problem that was affecting cyber law in the country was the delay in accessing the information gathered by officials of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

“The commission will have to delay in taking it to the mobile companies in order to trace the perpetrators,” he said.

He said when the commission fails to give out such information; the issue of cybercrime will not be addressed and urged the new chairman to find ways in addressing such issue.

On his part, Alhaji Fouad Sheriff said the role of NATCOM is to provide supervisory role to mobile operators and in doing so, they will have to do it effectively devoid of biases.

He said he will introduce a national strategy which will help to address most of the issues raised by lawmakers.

“I want to help increase revenue generation and help implement national strategy. I don’t have telecom expertise but that as management there are laid down laws that should be adhered to. So, we are going to bring out the solutions that are slated in the national strategy as a way to make sure that sierra Leoneans benefit from it. I will not be able to address the problem but we will try my best in handling them,” he assured.

He said though there are no cyber laws that will protect the security aspect of the telecom industry, but that they will try as best as they could to augment the laws. He said he will work together with board members and commissioners in order to help address the burning issues.