By Sorie Fofana…………………….
On 19th May, 2016 the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) invited bids from eligible and qualified bidders for the monitoring of Sierra Leone’s International Gateway System.
It is understood that, eleven companies (both local and international) bought the bid forms from NATCOM headquarters.
Out of the eleven companies that bought the bid documents, only three companies met the submission deadline of 10:10am on June 30th, 2016. They are Global Voice, Suba and DBM. The evaluation of the bids has started in earnest.
It is understood that, the contract for the monitoring of the International Gateway System will be awarded to the best responsive bidder by the second week of August.
When the International Gateway System was liberalized in July last year, we warned that, the Government (NATCOM) should move quickly to recruit an agent to monitor the International Gateway System.
Before the International Gateway System was liberalized last year, the Government of Sierra Leone was receiving between US$20m and US$30m annually from the management of the International Gateway System.
In April this year, the International Gateway monopoly was scrapped by the Government of Sierra Leone.
A Multiple Gateways System was introduced by NATCOM without any proper monitoring mechanism put in place.
As a result of the lack of an effective and efficient monitoring mechanism of the International Gateway System, a lot of revenue leakages have been reported.
Revenue collection from the Gateway System has significantly dropped. NATCOM has not been able to collect up to US$500,000 a month from the International Gateway since the Multiple Gateways System was introduced on 1st April, 2016.
Before then, at least, US$2m was collected monthly from the management of the International Gateway System.
We call on the Government (NATCOM) to speed up the process of evaluating the bids and appointing the best responsive bidder to monitor the Multiple Gateways System.
If an effective and efficient monitoring agent is not speedily recruited, the Government stands to lose a lot of revenue from the management of the Multiple Gateways System through revenue leakages.
We call on NATCOM, to speed up the process of evaluating the three bids that were submitted against the stated deadline of 10:10am on 30th June, 2016 and quickly award the contract to the best responsive bidder.
There is no need to re-advertise for the recruitment of an agent to monitor the International Gateway System after the process had been completed on 30th June, 2016.
This issue of International Gateway management brought a lot of negative publicity for the President. He cannot afford to court such negative publicity again, just because, some people close to him want this contract to be awarded to them through the backdoor.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is on his way out of State House. He can no longer afford to be portrayed negatively in the media, just because some of his siblings and friends want him to circumvent procurement rules to satisfy them.
We, once again, call on NATCOM to move fast and bring this matter to a close. We hope Mr. Momoh Konte will read this piece and take appropriate action. Period!
We return to the question: What has the Government of Sierra Leone really benefitted from the liberalization of the International Gateway System?