The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Communications, Technology and Innovation, Chaired by the Rt. Hon.Boston Munda, on Friday 02/02/2024, at the Atlantic Hotel, Lumley Beach, engaged various stakeholders in the telecom industry to share knowledge and understanding for the development of the country.
In his welcome address and purpose of engagement, Hon.Boston Munda said that engagement is vital for the improvement of the mobile technology industry and the people, adding that the engagement serves as interactive knowledge sharing for the sector. He said MPs would be very happy to promote the work of the telecom sector and that the engagement would serve as a means of sharing knowledge that would enhance the knowledge of MPs, which would be cascaded down to the citizenry. “Our goals at the Stakeholder’s engagement are twofold: first, we want to give important players in the Communications Industry a forum to share deep ideas, knowledge, and experiences. We’ve convened this engagement to promote candid and insightful dialogue, share insights, and look for cooperative solutions to the problems facing the Communications Sector”, he said and thanked stakeholders for honouring their invitation.
Representing the Ministry, Deputy Minister of Communications, Technology, and Innovation, Mr.Ibrahim Sannoh, expressed appreciation for the gathering, which embraces knowledge sharing with MPs and the Telecom Industry. He said the country had 48.9% of internet connectivity, and 14 out of 16 districts of the country are connected to fibre connectivity. The Deputy Minister highlighted the importance of the engagement and some of the challenges the telecom sector is facing. He said the Government is serious about promoting the industry for the total accessibility of citizens.
Earlier, the Chairman of the program, Sheku Lamin Turay, who doubles as the Director of Parliamentary and Public Relations in the Parliament of Sierra Leone, outlined the importance of the stakeholders’ engagement.
In his statement, the Opposition Leader in Parliament, Hon.Abdul Kargbo, appreciated the engagement and noted that he had a clear knowledge of the telecom sector, after serving in that field for twelve years before becoming MP. The Leader asked questions about how many people are using the telecom industry. He used the opportunity to call for mobile accessibility for all. “We stakeholders have the responsibility in making mobile network access to the people of Sierra Leone”, he said and went on to note that affordability is vital for the people. He called on telecom stakeholders to adjust the cost and strongly advised that discrimination should not be part of the industry. The Leader called for collective responsibility in moving and shaping the telecom industry to its rightful position. He commended the MNOs for mobile accessibility in rural areas and highlighted the challenges faced by the people using the mobile industry.
On behalf of the Leader of Government Business, the Deputy Majority Leader of Government in Parliament, Hon Bashiru Silikie, expressed elation over the Parliamentary/stakeholders engagement in the telecom sector. He went on to highlight the functions of Parliament relative to law-making, representation, and oversight. He underscored that effective communication is vital for the development of the State. According to him, engagement is essential in transforming the telecom industry, and it will chart the way forward to develop the industry. “This gathering represents the pivotal role we all play in shaping the future of our nation’s Communications landscape. It is an opportunity for us to come together, exchange ideas, and collaborate on strategies that will lead to a robust and inclusive communication environment” he affirmed. The Leader said the engagement would strengthen cyber security and boost engagement for the betterment of the country. He appreciated the engagement and called for effective collaboration. The Leader concluded by thanking the Parliamentary Committee on Communications, Technology, and Innovation for arranging this stakeholder engagement, and expressed hope that the results of their conversations will help shape wise laws and regulations that will direct the growth of the communication industry in the future. During the deliberations, stakeholders from the various telecom industries presented key challenges and recommendations. Also, there were extensive panel discussions on optimizing quality service delivery, tariff structure for better customer satisfaction, and also on digital penetration and digital transformation.