By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara :
The Sierra Leone Submarine Fibre Optic Cable is presently making steady progress under the control of SALCAB.
The Governments idea to take full ownership of the project is currently paying dividends to the public while many continue to enjoy a free flow of fast and reliable internet service.
The backbone cable is presently under massive installation countrywide amidst criticism and negative efforts by incumbents of the industry.
The decision taken by the Government to ensure that Sierra Leoneans own the Submarine Fibre Optic Cable was a way of enabling a positive environment in which the private sector can flourish.
Historically, service providers have charged exorbitant rates – the highest in Sub Saharan Africa – for unreliable service.
The landing of the Submarine Fibre Optic Cable has reduced the cost of bandwidth from approximately Two Thousand Seven Hundred United States dollars per Megabyte Per Seconds (Mbps) to a mere Two Hundred United States Dollars ($200) per Mbps.
Unfortunately, most service providers have yet to reduce pricing and continue to charge rates that are unfair to the hardworking people of this country.
The main issue I see as a media practitioner but mostly as a proud Sierra Leonean is that a couple of the ISPs are causing a lot of negativity around this important resource.
As water can flourish the fields, the internet can flourish the mind.
We as a country cannot allow these troublemakers to affect this important gift supported by the World Bank.
The schools of Sierra Leone are now receiving free internet and free Wi-Fi hotspots are growing daily.
Let’s not allow a few; well rooted Internet Service Providers (ISPs) motivated by self serving interests ruin this gift for the rest of us.
This kind of success story is exactly why the Government must remain in control of SALCAB and the Submarine Fibre Optic Cable.
If the current positive trend of a well managed and operated project continues, the Government will consider further reducing the cost of data.
A reduction from Two Hundred United States Dollars ($200) to One Hundred United States Dollars ($100) would earn Sierra Leone the title of first ever to charge less than Two Hundred United States Dollars n ($200) per Mbps.
We urge World Bank to understand the importance of supporting the Government of Sierra Leone on this project.
Allow corporate protection to continue so private investors feel safe investing time and resources into delivering better services for Sierra Leoneans.
The country will benefit from increased jobs, better schooling and free access to information.
It is time that the people of Sierra Leone to stand up for their rights and demand accountability from those who have the privilege of doing business here.
Companies which continue to cheat us with high rates for slow service will no longer be accepted as the standard.