By Gunther Adikali Daramy
As the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) concludes its Council 2016 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of information and Communications, Cornelius Deveaux has said the country needs to double its pace in catching up with the trends in leveraging the development and use of information communications technology services and applications for national security, job creation and socio economic growth vis-a-vis the successful implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity.
Explaining Sierra Leone’s strides in advancing ICT such as the setting up of e-government and open data portals, and onward efforts with its national ICT plans such as digital migration and e-commerce, Deputy Minister Cornelius Deveaux at a special organized meeting past Wednesday with ITU’s Director of Development, Ebraihima Sanou, held at the ITU building in Geneva, appealed for greater support in facilitating Sierra Leone’s realization of the full potentials of ICT in ensuring the successful implementation of the APC government’s blue print for socio economic renaissance, the Agenda for Prosperity.
He said government continues to make considerable efforts in creating the required infrastructure by putting in place the necessary infrastructure and the regulatory and legal frameworks for increased private sector investment but “there is the overarching need for the nation to double its pace in catching up with the trends in promoting gender and civil society inclusivity, the development of SMEs and the realigning of national ICT objectives with the attainment of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).”
Cornelius Deveaux assured the ITU of government’s continued collaboration. He recalled the ITU two-day Regional Ministerial conference which was recently held in Freetown and organized by the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) to discuss issues pertaining to the nation’s wellbeing and development, and also conveyed assurances for a fruitful ITU cyber security meeting which will also be held in Freetown later this month.
The Deputy Minister requested for the resuscitation of a high level collaboration which has to do with human capacity development and the sharing of expertise in terms of services and the development of applications akin to Sierra Leone’s locality.
He revealed the APC government of President Koroma has invested over US$ 1m in establishing the structures for a sustainable digital economy, maintaining, also, that the government’s vision is to leverage ICT as a reliable, accessible and affordable service.
He furthered that the APC government of President Koroma perceives access to ICT services as a fundamental right of every citizen.
Commending Sierra Leone’s desire to fully tap the available opportunities in exploring the full potentials of ICT for development, ITU’s Director for Development, Ebraihima Sanou, said the next two years will see ICT services being developed and gaining grounds in Sierra Leone.
The ITU Director for Development further proffered several suggestions that will enable Sierra Leone to unlock the potentials of ICT in establishing a service oriented open access broadband ecosystem.
Accompanying the Deputy Minister was Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Switzerland Madame Yvette Stevens and Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Information and Communications Mr. James Kanja Cobba.
In another development, Deputy Minister Cornelius Deveaux and CTO James Kanja Cobba also held a meeting with officials of UNCTAD past Tuesday May 30th at the UN office in Geneva where it was agreed that UNCTAD will provide technical support to ensure the ICT policy, e-commerce policy and digital broadcasting policy whose validation are to be completed today conform with international acceptable standards.
It was further concluded that UNCTAD will send a technical team to Sierra Leone to provide technical mentorship to Members of Parliament, the judiciary, the Police and business community in understanding the ramifications and interpretations of ICT laws.
Also, the Deputy Minister and the Chief Technical officer held a meeting with the ambassador of Sierra Leone to Geneva and embassy staff wherein a model of communication between the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Geneva mission was established to ensure appropriate follow up actions on the conclusions with ITU and UNCTAD.
Discussions were also held to create the necessary connections with the World Postal Union for the transformation of SALPOST to community digital centres, providing unbridled ICT services to people who cannot afford smart devices.
The ITU Council 2016 meeting concluded yesterday Thursday 2nd June 2016 with new strategies to address the evolving needs of members.
Deputy Minister of information and Communications Cornelius Deveaux and CTO James Cobba are expected in Freetown over the weekend.
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