Sierra Leone’s National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) over the weekend held its fifth Consumer Parliament in Koidu City, Kono District on Saturday 7th May 2016. The events brought together government officials, NATCOM management and Staff, traditional and local government officials, mobile phone communications and internet service operators, consumers etc. at the Yomba Lucy Memorial Hall at Diamond Hotel in Koidu City.
The Consumer Parliament was first held at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown in 2009 and has been held in Bo, Kenema and Makeni Cities. It serves as a given opportunity to the consumers to express their views on the operations of mobile phone companies and internet service providers in the country. At the end of the day the service providers are expected to provide solutions to the problems highlighted by consumers.
NATCOM’s Chairman, Momoh Kemoh Konte revealed that since government liberalized the international gateway it has increased cumulatively incoming and outgoing international calls to 10% and 5% respectively, and reduced of making international calls. He pointed out that although there are challenges in the sector, NATCOM has agreed in principle to reduce the cost of communications in Mano River Union Countries and to have common tariff in the four countries (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire). Mr. Konte further said the Commission will soon put together regulations that suggested at least three years jail term for those caught in sim box fraud. Sim Box Fraud, he said affects the country’s revenue collection base a lot and threatens the peace of the nation. He admonished operators to ensure that all sim cards going out are registered so as to prevent security risk like terrorism.
NATCOM, he said is currently working with the Sierra Leone Cable Network (SALCAB) to take the fibre cable to schools so as to provide e-learning facilities. He also spoke the Commission’s intention to help GSM Companies to expand across the country.
Mr. Konte is happy that by the end of the year the internet service would have increase to 4% from 0.3% that he inherited.
NATCOM’s Acting Director General, Senesie Kallon explained the work of NATCOM and its relation with consumers.
Hon. Binneh Bangura of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications said they have been enjoying a good working relationship with NATCOM and the Ministry. He commended Africell for its good role played during the fight against Ebola and for continuous provision of quality, reliable and affordable communication services to customers. “The Committee is impressed with the operations of Africell especially when they have improved on their calls services,” he said, and added that the Committee will not be lenient this time round with GSM Companies in the country because they want them to provide quality services.
The Minister of State East, Karmor Kabbah underscored the importance of quality communications services, which is said enhances national development. He however emphasized that being that GSM Companies are contributing a lot to national development; they should try to make their customers enjoy the services they are paying for.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Bangura disclosed that his Ministry has enjoyed a good working relationship with NATCOM. He pledged government’s political will to strength communications services in the country.
After 39 years of active service