By Sorie Fofana…………..
The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) was established “to provide for the licensing and regulation of telecommunications operators and for the promotion of universal access to basic telecommunication services, fair competition for the benefit of investors in, and the users of telecommunication networks and services, to improve the national, regional and global integration of Sierra Leone in telecommunications and to provide for other related matters”.
The Telecommunications Act, 2006 came into effect on 25th July, 2006 when it was finally signed into law by the former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The Telecommunications Act, 2006 made provision for the appointment of an Executive Secretary by the Commission. The Executive Secretary was responsible for the day-to-day administration and management of the Commission.
When Alhaji I.B. Kargbo was appointed Minister of Information and Communications in 2007, he spearheaded the amendment of the Telecommunications Act, 2006 by scrapping the position of Executive Secretary and replacing it with the position of Director General. (See the Telecommunications (Amendment) Act, 2009).
In the amended Act, the tenure of office of members of the Commission was changed from three years to five years and Commissioners are eligible for re-appointment for another term “only”.
The late Kanji Daramy was appointed as the first ever Chairman/Commissioner of NATCOM. His tenure was short-lived. He was succeeded by Siray Timbo. Mr. Timbo introduced a lot of changes in the Commission. He was responsible for modernizing the Commission. It was during his tenure as Chairman/Commissioner that, the current Managing Director, Mohamed Bangura was appointed.
Mr. Bangura tried to overshadow Mr. Timbo by insisting that, as Managing Director, he was responsible for the “day-to-day administration and management of the Commission”. In order to demonstrate supremacy, Mr. Tombo got the Managing Director, Mr. Bangura suspended from office for “insubordination”.
Just out of the blue, President Ernest Bai Koroma decided to remove Mr. Timbo from NATCOM and appointed him as Sierra Leone’s first resident Ambassador to the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Ambassador Timbo was replaced by Tom Obaleh Kargbo as Chairman/Commissioner of NATCOM.
Mr. Kargbo came to the job with a vast administrative experience, having served as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Very recently, M r. Kargbo served as Chairman of the Board of Directors at SIERRATEL.
Since his appointment as Chairman/Commissioner of NATCOM, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. Currently, Mr. Kargbo and Mr. Bangura are at daggers drawn. Mr. Kargbo has fallen out with almost all his colleagues in the Commission. He is barely on speaking terms with almost all of them. Parliament has decided to intervene, by inviting the top brass at the Commission for frank discussions.
Many people were left wondering why President Koroma decided to appoint Mr. Kargbo as Chairman/Commissioner of NATCOM, leaving out one of the most outstanding Commissioners, Saidu Turay in the cold. No matter what anybody says, Commissioner Saidu Turay would have been a better choice for the position of Chairman/Commissioner at NATCOM. Afterall, he has been one of the most level headed Commissioners at NATCOM.
President Koroma should find a lasting solution to the leadership debacle at NATCOM.
A stitch in time saves nine!
What is really happening at NATCOM?
By Sorie Fofana…………..