Momoh Konteh Is Serving The Nation Well
In the period within which he has managed the entity, the role of Momoh Konteh, the Director General of the Sierra Leone National Telecommunications Commission, has been reformatory.
It has also been remarkably successful in terms of bringing sanity into an industry that was once characterized by outright flouting of rules and regulations and refusal by telecommunications service providers to meet their obligations to customers and their failure to pay their taxes to the National Revenue Authority which ran into billions of Leones annually.
As an arbitrator who believes in giving all parties a fair hearing, it is preposterous for a certain segment of the nation’s press to insinuate that in the latest move by telecommunications service providers to increase their tariffs, citing prevailing economic and financial conditions they are faced with, finger should be pointed at Momoh Konteh as taking sides with the operators.
To prove that he puts the interest of the government and its people above all other considerations, it was NATCOM under the leadership of Momoh Konteh which discovered that one of the mobile service providers was cheating their customers and the government. A huge fine running into hundreds of thousands of dollars was levied on the operator by NATCOM.
Concerning the latest development in the industry, it must be understood that companies in a fluid market place can decide to shift their prices upward or downward, depending on prevailing market conditions. In the debate on whether the telecommunications companies should increase tariff or not, what we should not forget is that the market place is not static but fluid. Operation costs may go up or down depending on forces outside the control of any individual player which plays a big role in determining how prices are fixed.
It is in this vein that the telecommunications service providers are appealing for an increase in tariffs to meet increased operational costs. Citing that since 2002 they have not increased their tariffs while their operating costs have shot up.
In a democratic manner, a conference was convened inviting all the relevant industry stakeholders to debate on the issue. Now why should anybody insinuate that Momoh Konteh whose commission is supposed to give all players a level playing field be accused of titling the game in favor of the operators?
As far as the matter is concerned, as many as favored the motion for the operators to increase their tariff so were there those who opposed any increase. It would be fair to see NATCOM as providing leadership in regulating the industry but not as a dictator imposing conditions under which the operators must do business; especially with regards their costs and returns.
If this was in the power of NATCOM, then Momoh Konteh only needs to go on radio, TV and the newspapers to announce that he has granted the mobile operators authority to increase their tariffs.
But this has not been the case. The matter remains under debate with stakeholders stating that whatever increase is made should be done in conjunction with improvements in the service provided. The decision is not made by Momoh Konteh with the insinuation by his detractors that he must be in collusion with the mobile operators.
To recap, NATCOM was established by an Act of Parliament in 2006 to regulate the Sierra Leone telecoms sector, protect consumer interest and ensure fair competition among service providers. It must be understood that while the current Board of Commissioners of NATCOM is headed by Mr. Momoh Konteh, the day–to–day administration and management of the Commission is entrusted in the office of the Director General.
Following commencement of operations since its establishment, the Commission crafted the strategic direction that it should adopt with a clearly stated Mission and Vision to surmount the various challenges in the telecoms industry so as to catch up on time lost in its late establishment as a national regulatory authority.
The Commission in essence started the process of restructuring by providing capacity building opportunities for the members and staff of the Commission; addressing the technical and monitoring needs of the Commission; setting a sound legal and regulatory framework; reviewing the license conditions of new and existing operators and service providers; and providing an interactive forum (The Consumer Parliament) for the Consumers and Service Providers to meet with the Regulator and discuss issues pertinent to the industry.
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