Orange Leads Telecoms Sector

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Barely five years ago, Orange (S.L) started an ambitious project to transform and modernize its network infrastructure and enhance service delivery to its valued customers.

 The desire to increase customer satisfaction with the fastest internet speed on the widest coverage was central to this dream. Today we can testify that Orange SL is the leader in terms of network quality for voice, internet speed and coverage.

Today, we have far more sites than any other telecom service provider in Sierra Leone with more than 445 sites carrying voice and date with the best customer experience nationwide. This is the season of generosity and abundance.

Additionally, the company has worked immensely in improving the network connectivity across the country for their customers.

Even in the mist of the COVID-19 Pandemic the company has launched many programmes such as the free educational portal to access academic sites.

Students will be given free 250MB. All you need to do is to dial *800# and reply with option 4 to claim your data.

The Educational portal was a grant for students to access academic sites such as Khan Academy, coursera, Wikipedia, Ministry of Education Online class room, all Universities in Sierra Leone (online lectures) and more. Charges apply immediately after using free data.

Additionally, Orange SL Mobile Company signed a partnership with the ministry of Basic and secondary Schools (MBSS) to complement efforts of promoting the Free Quality Education (FQE) in Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, the company has implemented many projects as a way to improving the educational system in the country under the leadership of president Bio.

The company has been in the front line to Support the free quality education through the distribution of the free sanitary pads and school learning school materials to female pupils across the country.

Orange mobile company had also providing free internet system and other ICT materials to school pupils in different secondary schools across the country just to support the free quality education in Sierra Leone.

The company has also launched a specialized internet package and implemented the super coding to schools pupils in different schools across the country.

This coding is an internet Microsoft word used in computers to create different types of (APPS) and other internet materials that in line with ICT.

In another development the company has also launched what we call “S’PAK” in different secondary schools across Sierra Leone for both schools pupils and student in the university level as well,

The Brand is separate service classes develop for pupils and student across the country that will enable them easy access to communication

The “S’PAK” brand is working in collaboration with the Orange Money and that for every recharge using orange money brand “YO” and Cha-cha the student will benefit instantly with 50% bonus.

Quiet recently the company has move to 4g+ just keep improving their network to satisfy their customers.

The launch which brought together significant players in the telecommunications industry marks a significant upgrade to an already fast and reliable 4G broadband service that Orange Sierra Leone launched and rolled out in 2017.

SLAJ Recognises Pres. Bio as Champion of Press Freedom

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has been recognized as Press Freedom Champion by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, SLAJ, whose leadership paid tribute to his government’s repeal of the obnoxious 1965 law successive governments used to jail journalists.

“I want to start by congratulating SLAJ on the celebration of their Golden Jubilee Anniversary. This is a great milestone for any professional group. But what makes it interesting is the fact that we certainly did this together. At a time when we have just repealed Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965,” he said.

He emphasized that the achievement was important for the media and government’s commitment to free speech in the country, adding that when he made it a party manifesto it was not just lip service. He said he believed that democracy must go with the free press and that SLAJ and government could be critical friends who respect and appreciate the place of a responsible press.

“That is why I decided to take the bold step. So, by honouring me with this, as a champion of Free Press, I think it’s important for me because it was already a commitment I made in my manifesto. But I think, I’d like to thank you for thinking about that, because many governments had an opportunity to do it. But they did not have the strength of mind to take on certain sorts of challenges. Of course, there were critical views within my own government and elsewhere”.

“But it can be a useful part of a healthy democracy. We cannot have just one voice, we should have a dissenting voice, especially when those dissenting views are responsible, I think, to give us the opportunity to rethink some of the decisions we make and add value to the decisions we make”.

“I am never afraid of dissenting views. And maybe that is one of the reasons why I was never afraid to really take on this challenge. And as a matter of fact, everybody is a journalist in the world now with the new media. So that is why we talk about responsible and professional journalists, who can take critical views, synthesize them and make them useful for public consumption, rather than just commenting or stating what a lot of us do today on social media.

“I want to use this opportunity also to extend my gratitude to the minister of Information and Communications Mohamed Swaray, who has been tenacious, who believed in what I said. And despite the many obstacles that he came across, he held on to my promise and delivered on it. So, I want to thank him and the leadership of the ministry. It was never easy. And we will continue to make efforts to make sure that our country is a better place. It is not enough. Our efforts as a government are not enough,” he said.  

On that note, I want to thank you for considering this award. And I will definitely assure you that insofar as I remain here, we will be critical friends and we will provide the support necessary for you to fight not only to practice but to thrive and be a better organisation. Thank you and I hope that friendship continues,” he ended. 

Minister of Information and Communications, who declared the purpose of the event, said the President had rekindled the trust and confidence in the leadership of SLAJ and journalists, particularly as it related to freedom of the press and dignity.

“His Excellency they singled you out for recognition for your relentless efforts and abiding commitment to ensuring a free and unshackled media. You have done a lot for the media. You have dared where others have failed, even though you remain the most castigated, the most vilified the most lampooned presidential candidate in the history of our country. Nobody imagined that you will be rejected as to eventually become the cornerstone, bringing an end to 55 years of speculation, 55 years of trials and tribulations for the media in Sierra Leone,” he said.

President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, started by saying that they wished the President had attended their Golden Jubilee AGM in Bo City to receive the press freedom award in person.

“We had wanted the whole national and regional executives as well as the entire membership of SLAJ to physically join in expressing our profound thanks and appreciation for the repeal of the criminal libel laws”.

“We wanted to demonstrate, in our own special way, our grateful thanks, so that you can also join in feeling that sense of freedom, which only those who have been to jail can relate to. For it is when you have been locked up and then released that you can fully appreciate what freedom means and how valuable it is for that fundamental human right to be respected and protected”.

“Your Excellency, all Presidents and Junta Heads of State we have had in this country, including your very self, have jailed journalists using the Criminal and Seditious Libel Law, but none was brave enough to repeal the law. This was a law that shackled the Sierra Leone media and journalists for 55 odd years,” he said.

He disclosed that the criminal libel law was used 99% by successive governments and politicians to cow the media and intimidate and incarcerate journalists to escape being held to account and to clamp down on dissenting views.

He added that the law prevented women from coming into the journalism profession and aspires for leadership positions in the media industry, while also preventing private sector investment in the media and rendering the industry poor.

 

FBC Students Cry foul

The student union of the University of Sierra Leone has addressed a formal letter to the civil societies Organizations (CSOs) and different media houses in Sierra Leone over their cancelled election that was conducted on the 2nd June, 2021.

Below is the formal letter written to the student union body.

 Fourah Bay College Campus, Mount Aureol, Freetown 8 th June, 2021. Addressed to: Civil Society Organisations and the Media (see below) RE: CONCERNS ON THE CONDUCT OF THE 2021 FOURAH BAY COLLEGE STUDENTS’ UNION ELECTIONS. We write to formally bring to your attention the multiple instances of irregularities that marred the Wednesday 2nd June 2021 Students’ Union (SU) election at Fourah Bay College (FBC) and that ultimately resulted in the University’s decision to cancel it. Be further informed that a rerun has been scheduled for Friday 11th June 2021 and, much to the dismay of the wider student populace, the University Administration has failed to address many of the fatal electoral irregularities which disenfranchised most of the students from casting their ballots during the just annulled elections. As non-state actors and members of the fourth estate, we are sending this correspondence to you to detail the burning concerns of students. We crave your profound indulgence to look into these concerns and engage the University Administration to ensure fairness, transparency, and the inclusive participation of all students of Fourah Bay College. We believe that failing to address these issues has the proclivity to undermine the efforts we are collectively making to ensure that the 2021 SU election is peaceful. The under-mentioned are key amongst many other electoral malpractices which stifled the successful outcome of the 2nd June 2021 Students’ Union Elections at Fourah Bay College: 1. Faulty voter’s register – Out of a student population of more than 10,000, only 1,500 students were listed on the voters’ register. Students who had fully complied with the registration process which the University Administration had placed as a condition precedent for voting eligibility were desirous of exercising their voting franchise. However, it became quite apparent that most of these students could not find their names on the voters’ register, and no immediate alternative scheme was devised by the Administration to remedy this fault. Most student voters drew the reasonable inference from this act of the University Administration that it was a ploy on their part to politically profile them and deliberately deny them the right to vote. It is noteworthy that even though this anomaly was brought to the full attention of the University’s front office, nothing was done to rectify the issue then or even now, ahead of the scheduled polls. The fact remains that to ensure that the process is faultless and peaceful, the voters’ list must contain the names of all registered students of the university and its compilation must be authentic leaving no room for suspicions. Evidently so, this was not the case on June 2nd . 2. Disenfranchisement of students with Sierra Leone Grant-in-Aid (SLG) – It is not shrouded in secrecy that there is a huge chunk of continuing students who have obtained grants from the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) through the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE). Beneficiaries of this referred grant could not complete their registration process to meet the stipulated voting requirement because the University Administration could not provide them with their sessional transcripts as against the deadline. No extension was provided for registration of eligible students faced with this predicament, having full regard to the situation and circumstance faced by continuing students with grants from GoSL. 3. Disenfranchisement of diploma and certificate students – In a notice issued by the Warden of Students on 7 th April 2021, it was indicated that diploma and certificate students are not eligible to vote. Sir, we believe strongly that students enrolled in these programs are an integral part of the university structure and they too are deserving of a voice and should be given an equal political platform as any other student within the university system. These students have been charged with the payment of university fees inclusive of SU charges and thus it is but very fair that they are allowed to participate in the electioneering process of the student officials that will superintend their activities and look into their welfare. Removing diploma and certificate students from the eligibility ranks is in direct contravention to the provision of 27 (2) Act No.6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone under the rubric “no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any law or in performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority’’. We wish to bring to your attention that the guiding document governing SU activities is the FBC SU Constitution. In section 11(8), it provides that the voters’ list shall be the list of registered students prepared by the registry for the academic year for which the election is held. After a thorough examination of section 11 (Elections) of the FBC SU constitution, we wish to mention unequivocally that no provision prohibits diploma and certificate students from voting. We believe that in a higher institution of learning like Fourah Bay College, which is supposed to be the pace-setter in recognising inclusive participation and fairness, an attempt to exclude a significant proportion of students in this manner is not only insufferable but also unconstitutional. Importantly so, diploma and certificate students have a perennial history of participation in SU elections and have always voted. Students at the diploma level, in particular, have previously served as SU executives. With the university authorities persistently pushing for the non-involvement of this category of students, we are seriously bewildered which begs the question as to what is special or different about the 2021 SU election. 4. Projecting pre-existing biases – The University Administration is expected to play the role of an umpire, thereby seeking to hold the balance between contesting candidates in the strictest sense. It became glaring that a particular candidate in the person of Adama Sillah was endowed with special favours as opposed to other contestants. The said Adama Sillah only completed her online registration on the 22nd of May 2021 after the expiration of the deadline set by the University Administration being the 20th May 2021. The University Administration by all reasonable indication has joined the pool of contestation by siding with the mentioned aspirant. Consequently, the above-mentioned anomalies completely blemished the June 2nd FBC SU elections. Considering that civil society organisations and the media play a crucial role in promoting good governance, upholding democratic practices, and advocating for the liberties of citizens, we seek to canvass your intervention in this matter to ensure that the decisions of the University with regards to the forthcoming SU elections are fair, transparent, and inclusive. We seek to make the following recommendations: 1. We call for a thorough revision of the current voter register to address all instances of irregularities including the omission of names of registered students. In our opinion, the Administration’s insistence to continue to use a list that distinctly disenfranchises more than 50% of students does not promote the ethos of democracy and could further undermine the conduct of any peaceful and credible election. For instance, the current list excludes all students of LLB2, LLB Final Honors 2, Social Work Year 4, and Population Studies Years 2 and 4. Furthermore, in a bid to promote transparency, we call on the Administration to involve all presidential aspirants and/or their representatives in the consolidation of the final voter’s register. We understand that even when all of these measures are instituted, it might still be possible to have instances of omission of names of eligible students. We, therefore, think the Administration should further create a seventy-two-hour window of opportunity for presidential aspirants and registered students to verify the final voter’s list before the scheduled elections. 2. That the Administration provides all continuing students including SLG holders their sessional transcripts to allow them to complete their registration process so that their names can be captured in the voters’ register. 3. All registered diploma and certificate students must be given the franchise to vote. 4. We propose that members of the Elections Management Committee consist of members of the Administration who are well-respected, independent, fair, and have no history of involvement in SU politics. 5. That students be allowed to engage in open campaigns and allocated specific days during which they will stage their open campaigns on campus guided by the reasonable rules of electioneering engagement as prescribed by your noble Ministry. 6. That the ballot papers printed for this election be inscribed with security features such as serial numbers to prevent the occurrence of overvoting or ballot-box stuffing. 7. We welcome the idea of locating all polling stations at the Amphitheater for ease of access and better supervision. We further recommend that each polling station be designated to a faculty with separate queues for students corresponding to their faculty. This will immensely reduce overcrowding and make counting of the ballots less cumbersome. Further to that, it will be very easy for the security apparatus to maintain peace and order on polling day. 8. That every polling agent must be a qualified voter who has met all the electioneering criteria. These polling agents should be issued with identity cards by the election organisers. The identity card must include the name of the polling agent, department, level, student registration number and endorsed with the signature of the lead elections officer. We suggest that, in the event of an emergency which significantly impedes the ability of a polling agent to carry out their function, provision should be made for another agent to act in his stead. 9. That when the time for voting elapses on elections day, all students who have queued up should be allowed to cast their votes before the closure of the respective polling centers. 10.That provisions be made for qualified voters who do not have in their custody or possession College ID, Passport, National Voter ID, Driving License, NASSIT Card, or Library Card to present transcripts, acceptance letters, registration forms or WASSCE results being official documents with their photographs annexed thereto confirming their identity or person. 11.We suggest that the Administration discontinues its move to issue ‘special identity cards’ to students whose names were on the students’ voters register, as mentioned in a notice from the Warden of Students dated 4th June 2021. The lack of authenticity of the voters’ register is already the core factor for the election brouhaha so it is advisable not to institute any measures that seek to give it credence, at the expense of the majority of registered students whose names were not included in that list in the first place. 12.We advise that the number of ballot papers to be printed should not exceed by more than 2% the total number of registered students in the final voter’s register. 13.Provision must be made for the election to be covered by independent media and reputable organisations within the civil society space. Conclusively, we would be very grateful if you kindly look into these concerns and engage the FBC Administration so that an amicable path will be defined for the conduct of the 2021 SU election. We assure you that we will cooperate fully in this election once we are assured that the process is impartial, transparent, and free from undue influence. Yours faithfully, Fatmata Binta Jalloh FBC SU Candidate Hymanson Johnson FBC SU Candidate Morison Ngobeh FBC SU Candidate Addressed to: Executive Director, Campaign for Good Governance Executive Director, Institute of Governance Reform National Coordinator, National Election Watch Director, Citizens Advocacy Network Director, Democracy Sierra Leone President, 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone Founder, Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice Executive Director, LEGAL LINK Executive Director, Campaign for Human Rights and Development International President, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists President, Women in the Media Sierra Leone BBC Correspondent, Sierra Leone Editor, Awoko Newspaper Editor, Awareness Times Newspaper Editor, Standard Times NewspaperEditor, Politico Newspaper Editor, Premier News Editor, Global Times Editor, Nationalist Press Editor, Owl Newspaper Editor, Independent Observer Station Manager, Society for Radio Democracy Director General, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation Head, African Young Voices TV Head, Star TV Station Manager, Radio Mount Aureol Station Manager, Capital Radio Station Manager, Afri Radio

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