Fibre optic cable expectations
Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Information & Communications, Sheka Tarawalie, to formally declare open the WARCIP-SL/SALCAB stakeholder’s workshop on expectations management on the landing and operationalizing of the fibre optic cable, held at his Ministry’s conference room on Tuesday, 10th January, 2012.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here as representatives of media houses, staff of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Staff of SALCAB (Sierra Leone Cable) Limited; in general, as beneficiaries of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine optic internet high-capacity fiber cable.
You would recall that the Fiber Optic Cable landed in October 2011, and since then it has not become operational, due to reasons which we must now disseminate to the general public. This is within the framework of the Expectations-Management, before misconception creeps up to the level at which the beneficiaries, including you, fail to understand the steps and length of time required before the cable becomes operational.
Once again, let me join in welcoming you to this workshop; a workshop in which you will contribute in the development of a Communications Strategy for the entire WARCIP-SL Project. Indeed this is in line with our Government’s desire to be transparent, which is a key components of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Change.
The Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone (GoSL) received a Project Credit (No. 4856-SL) from the International Development Agency (IDA) for the West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) – Sierra Leone Project for the purpose of providing an internet broadband link to the rest of the world, via a submarine fibre cable along the West Coast of Africa to Europe within the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable Construction and Maintenance Agreement Framework. Additionally, funding was provided for Capacity Building support to the MoIC/GoSL, NATCOM, Sierratel and ISOC-SL.
Furthermore, as part of the Financing and Contractual Agreement between the GoSL and the World Bank, the GoSL agreed to comply with two main covenants, namely the liberalization of the international telecommunications gateway, and the divestiture of at least 50% of Government’s shares in the Sierra Leone Cables Limited (SALCAB). In a bid to comply with that, a Divestiture Consultant has been hired, and the GoSL is currently publishing in various local newspapers its Action Plan and Timeline to liberalize the International Telecommunications Gateway.
The Project Implementation Unit (PIU) will give more details on the various project components, all of them so intended to yield maximum benefit for the people of Sierra Leone, especially within the context of providing good telephony-based services such as broadband internet, Virtual Private Networks, etc. As a responsive and responsible Government, we hope this will bridge the ICT divide and help accelerate our national development.
Precisely, the APC Government is keen on keeping its promise.
As I said earlier, the cable landed in October 2011. A lot of work went into it before that happened. From then till now much has been accomplished. But there remains a lot more to do before the cable becomes operational. It is therefore necessary to adequately inform the public as to what still has to be done and when they can start using it.
As you will hear from the Project Coordinator later today, the project implementation has many procurement implications which must not only follow our Public Procurement Procedures but those of the World Bank to ensure anti-corrupt practices.
Equally, the cable has not only landed in Sierra Leone but has come all the way from France and going down to South Africa, a distance of 17.000 Km connecting several African countries – and all of them are tied to one single date of going operational.
I also wish to inform you that SALCAB will host the ECOWAN SL Chapter project, through which ECOWAS countries will be connected via a terrestrial optic fibre cable. As such SALCAB is set to become an Internet Infrastructure Company (IIC). For its scope, this project has to be synchronized with the sub-project components of WARCIP-SL.
Indeed, this is a clear manifestation of the President’s foresight in his aspiration to capture ICT and place it at the centre of good governance within his concept of Attitudinal Change.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here for a brain-storming session to prepare a Communications Strategy which will guide the Project Implementation Unit in disseminating information to the public. I am therefore encouraging you all to fully participate in it, because we all have a stake in it.
With this in mind, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and pleasure to formally declare this workshop open.
Ministry of Information & Communications, Freetown
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