September 1, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Chairperson of the National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM), Momoh Konte, has said he is optimist the World Bank office in Freetown will lift their suspension on remitting funds for the fiber optic project, following the award of contract to a privately owned telecommunication company, Slone Telecommunication, to manage the country’s international telecommunication gateway.
The Bank suspended funding the US$31 million project following disagreement with the government of Sierra Leone over the selection of a company to take over the gateway.
But speaking after the just-concluded International Telecommunication Union conference in Freetown last week, Mr. Konte said that the Irish company was selected after meeting all the criteria set by them, adding that the final deal will be signed this week, and that a high level delegation from Slone company in Ireland is in town to finalise the deal.
According to report from NATCOM, the government had been reluctant to expedite the liberalisation process due to the perceived impact it could have on the revenue capacity of the state-owned telecommunication company – Sierratel.
However, the report further said the government has made a u-turn after consultations with telecommunication experts who identified the immense benefits the move will have in the telecommunication sector.
The privatisation of the international gateway is expected to provide a cost effective means of communication outside the country, according to telecoms experts.