“When we took over in March 2015, the internet penetration rate in the country was 0.25% but today we have increased it to 4%, beating other countries in the sub region,” NATCOM Chairman, Momoh Konte, told journalists in Freetown.
Giving an overview of his one and half years operations, Mr. Konte said since they have restructured the Commission and the management is doing well.
He spoke about the establishment of two new departments-Regulatory and Business Development and Research Departments. He disclosed that the Commission was able to secure E-Health phones that will be distributed to hospitals in every district to help address some serious ailment.
With funds provided by the Commission he said, they are presently constructing an eleven-storey building at Hill Station that will house their headquarters. He said when he appeared before MPs he assured them of changing the billing system from per minute to per second billing which, he noted, he succeeded in doing in two weeks.
Mr. Konte pointed out that because of the effort the Commission has made within the last one year the Commission has sent two people to the CTO, in addition to expanding coverage to remote areas across the country which he noted has given people the opportunity to communicate to their families and loved ones in and out of their homes.
The NATCOM chief disclosed that they came up with the One Area Network for Mano River Union countries where people can make international calls but will pay the same rate as local call, adding that Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea, Liberia and Togo are all members of the network now.
He said the Commission has succeeded in storing all data from January to date that will enable them track anybody who commits a cyber crime. He pointed out that call drops have so many factors, noting that with support from ITU, they secured the quality service equipment that will help to track some of these problems.
He assured Sierra Leoneans that they will continue to work in their interest, stressing that as referees they will seek the interest of both the consumers and operators.
He said when ITU did a research in 2016 they discovered that some eight thousand fake SIM cards are entering the country, resulting to Government losing huge resources.
He said that they have awarded the contract of the international gateway monitoring to a Ghanaian company, and they have tracked down ten thousand fake SIM cards that are being blocked.