By Moses A. Kargbo
L-R: Information Minister Mohamed Bangura, Executive Director Dr. Peter Larose, and Country Manager Parminder Brar
The Executive Director for Sierra Leone on the Boards of the World Bank Group, Dr. Louis Rene Peter Larose, has spoken of the importance of telecommunication to Sierra Leone’s development, noting that “it is only through a good communication system that people would be able to communicate effectively”.
Addressing a joint press conference organized by the World Bank and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information and Communications at the Golden Tulip Hotel in the west of the capital Freetown to formally unveil a new project being supported by the Bank to ensure internet connectivity to universities and schools across the country on Saturday August 13, Dr. Larose noted that developing the country’s ICT sector was part of the sustainable development goal of the Bank.
The Executive Director is in Sierra Leone as part of his official mission to Sub-Saharan countries under his supervision. He is representing the interests of the Republic of Sierra Leone and 21 other Sub-Saharan Africa countries on the Executive Boards of the World Bank Group.
On his arrival yesterday, Dr. Larose called on His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at State House, where he reiterated the Bank’s commitment to supporting the country’s post-Ebola Recovery Plan.
Country Director Henry Kerali said it was always a pleasure “to come back to Sierra Leone” as the Bank sees the development of the country as one of its commitments.
“We see internet connectivity still a long way to go but we believe with this project, we’ll bridge the gap so that the entire nation will be connected,” he said.
Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Bangura, described the occasion as historic both for his ministry and the country as they were poised to ensure every city and village in Sierra Leone was connected to the internet.
He said the project will be launched in universities and schools within a timeline of five to six months, and thanked the Bank for supporting the project and the country’s development efforts. He assured that the project will be prudently implemented for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
Country Manager Parminder Brar, who chaired the event, said the Bank was always happy to support Sierra Leone’s development. The Bank has provided the Government with the sum of US$31 million to support the ICT sector and for the liberalization of the international gateway, he added.
He stressed the need to reduce the cost of internet and increase access so that all Sierra Leoneans – especially the poor – could access the facility. He commended the Government for successfully laying the fiber cable across the country, noting that 10 universities and some of the best performing schools along the route the fiber has been laid will be connected to the internet.
Mr. Brar said the Bank will support the Government to achieve “the last mile connectivity”, which he said seems to be the problem at the moment.
Other speakers include the IFC Representative in Sierra Leone, Frank Ajilore; Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cable (SALCAB) Limited, Mohamed Sheriff; and Head of the Sierra Leone Research and Education Network, Mrs. Memunatu Pratt.