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NATCOM presents annual report to President Koroma

NATCOM presents annual report to President Koroma

President Ernest Bai Koroma has said that the National Telecommunications Company (NATCOM) “has a leading role, if not the leading role” to play in helping Sierra Leone relies her full potential as a modern nation because “information technology affects every sector.”

Speaking at his State Lodge offices today 22nd April 2010 during the presentation of the company’s annual report, the President said “let me on behalf of my government and the people of this country thank you for submitting the 2009 annual report,” emphasizing that “you are charged with a very important responsibility to oversee, regulate and monitor hi-tech activities so that Sierra Leone can benefit from the advantages of information technology.”

The President said he would no doubt cause the document to be laid before the House of Parliament “to look at it, and the committee responsible for overseeing your responsibilities will look at it in detail and ask questions on behalf of the people of this nation.”

President Koroma said NATCOM has a great responsibility in emulating other nations that are already reaping the benefits and maximizing the advantages that come along with the new information technology industry, noting that he is already pleased by the company’s efforts at rural connectivity improvements, while urging them to increase the monitoring of tariffs and other activities. “A lot has been happening; a lot has to happen, and we expect a lot more to happen to ensure that the country transforms itself… Information technology should not have a barrier…. Even the farmer and the doctor in the remote area should have access to it… To attain our MDG in this area, there are still a lot of challenges, especially as there’s piracy, connivance, and cutting corners… But you must be on top of them…” the President admonished, even as he urged them to ensure tariffs are paid and to create a level playing field for all. He ended by saying that with the caliber of people in charge at NATCOM, “you would be able to succeed.”

In his introductory remarks earlier, The Minister of Information and Communication, I B Kargbo, accompanied by his Deputy Saidata Sesay, said “the annual report is unique in the sense that NATCOM is one of the very few government institutions that proactively embrace positive reforms in state governance” in compliance with President Koroma’s Agenda For Change and the re-branding of Sierra Leone.

He said in a drive to embrace reforms, NATCOM Chairman Siray Timbo in collaboration with the Ministry facilitated the amendment of the Telecommunications Act 2006 to address the challenges of modern regulatory standards and in line with the ECOWAS harmonization policy. This, the Minister told the President, was why the position of a Director General was created to allow the occupant of that office to perform the functions of a Regulator rather than a mere Administration Secretary.

The Minister informed that a state of the art mobile spectrum Monitoring vehicle was procured to monitor the illegal use and abuse of “our valuable State resource,” and that the Chairman of the spectrum Board has provided the necessary leadership and guidance to safeguard and streamline the use of the spectrum by operators, international Non –Governmental Organization, as well as other private sector players.

Minister Kargbo also informed that the commission has constructed additional office blocks to house the Universal Access Development Fund Secretariat and a mini laboratory for equipment. He added that the Universal Access Development Fund (UADF) is like a Trust Fund where operators contribute 1% of their annual turn-over. He said the money will be used to establish telecommunications facilities to remote and underserved communities at an affordable cost, essentially to promote the concept of rural connectivity which is paramount in the President’s Agenda For Change and in tandem with the Millennium Development Goals target of Universal Connectivity by 2015.

The Minister said despite the many challenges the Commission is faced with, like all regulators the world over, he was proud to say that they adhere to transparency and accountability.

Presenting the report to President Koroma, NATCOM Chairman Siray Timbo thanked the President for giving him the opportunity to serve his country. He highlighted some sections covered by the report, including the company’s vision, mission statement, values, public relations, financial statement, and corporate social responsibilities.

The ceremony was also attended by some Commissioners and Board Members of the Commission.

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