The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, on Tuesday 1st September 2020, engaged Editors, Station Managers and Civil Society activists on cabinet’s decision to unbundle the National Fibre Backbone and the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB).
In his statement, he said that the press conference and the Civil Society engagement were intended to provide correct information about the unbundling process.
He furthered that it was concluded in the memorandum that the fibre assets currently under SALCAB be managed by two separate entities with the ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine cable remaining under SALCAB and the national terrestrial backbone taken over by a new company to be established. In the end while NATCOM (National Telecommunications Commission) designs the regulatory framework for both companies and issues them operating license as they will both operate as monopolies in the sector.
The minister informed that SALCAB and other agencies under the supervision of his ministry are all undergoing reforms in line with government’s transformative agenda, adding that the ministry has already succeeded in undertaking reforms in the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA).
“Government has no plans to sell SALCAB,” the minister emphatically stated. Noting that the institution`s structures have not worked effectively over the years and as a ministry and government they will not maintain the same system and expect different result.
The current bundled system, according to the minister, enables poor performance as SALCAB is currently operating the ACE Cable asset at less than 30% of its capacity and the NFB (National Fiber Backbone) at less than 0.5% of its capacity with the sector losing a lot of money through expenses and lost revenue.
Mr Swaray appealed to Editors and Station Managers to fact check their stories before going to press as his doors are always open and he stands ready at any time to respond to issues they raise.
The Acting Director of Communications in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mohamed M. Jalloh, did a Power Point presentation on the proposed reforms.