By Lansana Fofanah.
The newly appointed and approved Chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Dr. Prince Alex Harding yesterday officially took over as Chairman of the Commission.
The handing over ceremony took place at the Headquarters of the Commission at Hill Station in Freetown in the presence of some outgoing Commissioners, the media and staff of the Commission.
Delivering his handing over speech, the outgoing Chairman, Momoh Konte said that he was opportuned to have the privilege accorded to him by former President Ernest Bai Koroma to serve one of the prestigious entities in the country for three years.
Mr. Konte gave a brief background of how NATCOM had been politicized even before the All Peoples Congress came to power in 2007.
He however informed Dr. Harding that the Management of the Commission has been apolitical which is quite different from that of the structures of the Commission. He expressed confidence in His Excellency’s President Julius Maada Bio’s promise to depoliticize NATCOM. Describing his successor, Mr. Konte said that he would have wept bitterly if that appointment would have been given to anyone order than Dr. Harding as he was the architect of that institution.
He said that Dr. Harding has been instrumental in his life at a time when he came to establish his own telecommunications company which never materialized due to unforeseen reasons.
“People should not mind the media for hyping what usually happens between and amongst us. We all have a common goal to put the interest of Sierra Leone forward. Dr. Harding has a golden heart that made me to enjoy lots of facilities under the SLPP’s previous regime”, he said.
Mr. Konte informed that mobile penetration in the country is now 73.4 percent and internet penetration now stands at 21 percent.
He admonished all the staff of NATCOM to work diligently with the new Chairman to further the goals of the Commission.
Giving his response, Dr. Harding said that this transition has clearly proved that Sierra Leone cannot be developed based on tribal sentiment or party affiliation, but a continuation of cordial partnership and good policies.
“I am taking over NATCOM at a time when politics has changed hands completely, at a time when people are looking at NATCOM to do the impossible, at a time when people thought this government came with a political knife, at a time when voters are demanding tariff reduction, at a time when this government needs money to deliver flagship programs and at a time when mobile companies are bent on making unholy profit which is their sole aim of operations, but I will make sure I deliver our promises because we have to show the voters what we have done”, he said.
He assured everyone to feel at ease to work as he didn’t come to do a political witch-hunt but will hunt anyone that is a witch for the success of the Commission.
He thanked former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for giving him the power to create NATCOM and also expressed his appreciation to President Julius Maada Bio for giving him the chance to serve at NATCOM.
Dr. Harding said that Sierra Leone will soon move from the bottom of every index to become the head of development in Africa and beyond.
Giving his immediate plan, Dr. Harding says he will soon engage mobile company operators to see how they can work out a plan to reduce tariff on calls and other services.