August 15, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The World Bank has announced that it would support a project to have sustainable internet connectivity in universities and secondary schools across Sierra Leone.
The disclosure was made at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Freetown last Saturday by the Bank’s Country Manager, Parminder Brar, at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Information and Communications, in honour of the visiting Executive Director of Sierra Leone on the Bank’s Board, Dr. Louis Rene Peter Larose.
Dr. Larose is visiting the country as part of his official mission to sub-Saharan countries under his supervision, and he would be meeting with authorities to discuss and better understand the country’s development efforts, challenges and potentials for accelerated recovery.
According to Mr. Brar, the first phase of the project costing US$500,000 would run for around six months, with the provision of full internet access to 10 tertiary institutions and 10 best performing schools across the country.
“The government will make the fibre available to education institutions and the bank will put the capital investment needed to making internet access available initially to ten universities and ten well performing schools. The first phase of the project will cover Njala University, Milton Margai and Fourah Bay College, among others,” he told pressmen.
Brar said that the government had successfully rolled out the fibre backbone and it was high time that Sierra Leoneans started to benefit from the huge investment in the telecommunication sector.
He stated that over the past eight to nine months, the bank had seen serious commitment on the side of the government, by first breaking the monopoly of the gateway with four to five gateways operating in Sierra Leone at present, and reducing call traffic and call rate from overseas to Sierra Leone and from Sierra Leone to the top 20 destinations.
“We still have a long way to go on the reduction of mobile rate as well as reducing the price of internet and increasing access,” he added.
Wit regards monitoring of the internet service to prevent misuse by students, Mr. Brar said firewalls would be created to prevent access to unwanted sites and also block certain sites during school hours.
In his brief statement, Executive Director of Sierra Leone on the Board, Dr. Louis Rene Peter Larose described telecommunications as very important resource in contemporary times because it induces a lot of investment.
“It is only through good system of telecommunications we can communicate, certainly within Africa, Sierra Leone and rest of the world. A good telecommunications system is part of the sustainable development goals,” he said and assured that as the country’s representative on the World Bank’s Board, he would give the necessary support at all times.
On behalf of tertiary institutions, Mrs. Memunatu Pratt, head of Peace and Conflict Depart at Fourah Bay College said: “We have been crying for these institutions to have ICT facilities. Today, we are extremely happy and we thank the World Bank for the support to securing better quality education in Sierra Leone.”
She noted that huge investment had gone into trial projects, but most of them have not yielded any dividend because of failure to attract the needed resources to ensure sustainability.
Minister of Information, Mohamed Bangura, welcomed support from the Bank in ensuring internet connectivity in universities and colleges.