From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

EDITORIALS
Telecommunications Visitors arrive to state of APC Dombolo @ NATCOM Rubbish!
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jun 20, 2012, 17:12

Sierra Leone is this week hosting an international conference on Rural Connectivity in Africa. Sadly, the international guests have arrived to meet a state of embarrassment for ruling APC Government. The country is in throes of inadequate voice and data service from communications providers whilst the telecommunications regulator National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM)watch on haplessly. NATCOM seems to be under an inexplicable influence making it difficult for them to penalise the service providers or chastise them.

 

NATCOM Management team led by Mohamed Bangura, a Sierra Leonean who was flown in from the Diaspora, have been silent even as outages virtually lasting for whole days are more the norm than the exception lately. The data internet services have been worst hit.


Mohamed Bangura: Another Diaspora Failure


The NATCOM Board Chairman, Siray Timbo is more interested in entertaining local journalists to fabulous meals than in providing effective leadership in the sector. He also seems to be under the impression he is running a corporate entity than leading a regulator hence he recently approved the withdrawal of funds for improving the sector. The funds were used to buy water bowser donations to Water Utility company which donations were then mis-termed as ‘corporate social responsibilities’.

 

The Government Minister in charge of oversight of the Communications sector, Alhaji I.B. Kargbo, is believed by many citizens to be passed his prime which is affecting his overall performance in the sector. Kargbo used to be one of the country’s best brains but like all humans, time has weathered contents of his cranium.

Chairman Siray Timbo is behaving as if he is under ‘influence’ of GSM Mobile Phone companies whom now demand his political clout to back their intention to hike prices on poor citizens even as they render a shameful level of service to their customers for which NATCOM in its rubbish state cannot say a word

 

As a result, both residents and international visitors are suffering from serious communications problems which are affecting the ability and speed of desired economic growth nationally.

 

What makes the situation even more sad is that no one seems to care. NATCOM is seemingly satisfied with what many furiously term as “rubbish state of affairs” and the service providers, using the dismal state of affairs as a sword of Damocles, threaten to continue the poor provision of service for as long as they are unable to hike their prices upwards on the already poverty stricken citizens.

Minister I.B. Kargbo: Dinosaur in existence


Information is that the service providers, knowing this is an elections year, want to raise the cost of their charges amidst resistance from the ruling APC led Government.

 

Our international visitors are arriving this week but whilst there will be a lot of talking about the need to connect the rural communities in Africa, they will leave with the indelible impression that even the inhabitants of the capital city are not well connected let alone the provincial towns; least of all, the actual rural areas.



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