By Sorie Fofana……………………
Addressing newsmen in Freetown last week, the World Bank Country Manager in Sierra Leone, Parminder Brar underscored the point that, the present charges on mobile and internet services in the country are too high. He therefore called on the telecoms regulator, NATCOM to ensure that the rates are significantly brought now.
The idea of reducing the tariffs on mobile and internet services first came from President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma long before even the World Bank thought of appointing Parminder Brar as their Country Manager in Sierra Leone.
The International Gateway System would not have been liberalized if President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma had not given his tacit approval.
To his credit, President Koroma’s government has always insisted that, an effective and efficient monitoring system must be put in place before the Multiple Gateways are switched on.
We can hardly imagine a situation where Multiple Gateways are switched on without an effective and efficient monitoring system in place.
In the absence of any electronic monitoring system to ascertain the number of call minutes that go through our International Gateway System, there will be massive loss of much needed revenue by the Government of Sierra Leone.
We have always insisted that, liberalization is the standard practice in most African countries in the Twenty First Century. But the point must be made very strongly that, we cannot afford to leave operators to operate their separate gateways without an effective and efficient agent to monitor them.
That is why we call on NATCOM to ensure that an effective and efficient monitoring system is speedily put in place before the Multiple Gateways are switched on. Period!
Given the current situation, we are cocksure that, the operators will want to continue with the current status quo until NATCOM is able to recruit an effective and efficient Gateway Monitoring agent.
Two weeks ago, one of the biggest telecoms operators in the country, Africell Sierra Leone warned the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that, an effective and efficient monitoring system is put in place before the Multiple Gateways are switched on. Their spokesman emphasized that, “This will ensure security and revenue assurance for the Government of Sierra Leone”.
We call on those who are in a hurry to see that the Multiple Gateways are immediately switched on, to bear in mind that, if an effective and efficient monitoring agent is not recruited by NATCOM to monitor these operators, it will be a disaster for the Government of Sierra Leone.
Putting The Cart Before the Horse
Some people are insisting that, come April 1st, 2016 Multiple Gateways must be switched on. But how can you switch on the Multiple Gateways without having an effective and efficient monitoring system in place? That will be like putting the cart before the horse.
Our concern has always been that, there must be a seamless and peaceful transition from a single gateway system to a multiple gateway system.
We admit that, for several years, we have not had a flawless system in the management of our International Gateway System. But all we are saying is that, we now have the opportunity to right all those wrongs that have happened since our International Gateway System was monopolized in 2008.
Let us give Momoh Konte and his team of Commissioners at NATCOM enough time to sort out the mess they inherited in the management of our International Gateway System.
Momoh Konte is determined to sanitize the process of recruiting an effective and efficient agent to electronically monitor our International Gateway System.
The best way to manage a liberalized gateway system is to have an experienced and credible agent to effectively and efficiently monitor the operators of separate gateways in the country. Period!