NATCOM receives in audience HE John F. Hoover, Ambassador of the United States to Sierra Leone
On Wednesday 24th June 2015, the Chairman and Commissioner of Sierra Leone’s telecom national regulatory authority, the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), received in audience the Ambassador of the United States to Sierra Leone at the Commission’s head quarters in Freetown. HE Ambassador John F. Hoover was warmly welcomed by Chairman Momoh Kemoh Konte and his team of Commissioners and top level Management. The two parties exchanged thoughts geared towards the development of ICT infrastructure and quality of service delivery.
Welcoming the US diplomat, Chairman Konte registered appreciation and gratitude to the US government for the invaluable assistance rendered to the Government and people of Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease that has taken a huge toll of the populations of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in the sub-region, particularly citing the role played by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
He further expressed optimism for fruitful cooperation between the two parties and appealed for continued support in making ebola a thing of the past in Sierra Leone.
Chairman Konte highlighted some of the challenges in the telecom sector, which he intends to surmount during his tenure of office as Chairman of the sector’s regulatory authority. These include revamping the regulatory function of the Commission; improving Quality of Service, rural telephony and internet penetration from its current dismal 1.7% to 5 %.
HE Ambassador John F. Hoover and NATCOM in session
He acknowledged the contribution of Operators towards rural connectivity, adding that he would ensure Universal Access Development Fund (UADF) is capacitated to effectively enhance rural telephony.
Ambassador John Hoover expressed delight for the visit and thanked NATCOM and the telecoms service providers in the country for their collective efforts in providing the necessary ICT facilities such as the 117 ebola emergency response number. He reiterated the US Government’s commitment to zero ebola and economic recovery in Sierra Leone. Ambassador Hoover reflected on his experience in Kenya with ICT stakeholders in fostering the development and usage of efficient, reliable, secure and quality ICTs. He promised to share that experience in Sierra Leone through a good working relationship with NATCOM.
Commissioner Alpha Sesay threw light on the status of the landline technology, which he said had been sidelined over the years. He said there are more than 42,000 landlines in the country and that the internet is now accessed through the incumbent’s ADSL.
Acting Director General of NATCOM, Senesie Kallon, gave a background overview of the Commission, pointing out the need to close what he referred to as “the huge gap in ICT literacy”.