By Feima Sesay
Orange Sierra Leone the leading telecommunication company in the country has in consultative meetings held in Bo with NATCOM and other stakeholders speaking on the importance of the consumer parliament and the company’s achievement over the years.
The General Secretry ofÂ Orange SL Haffie Haffner in her statement on behalf of the CEO congratulated NATCOM for the successful planning and execution of the consumer Parliament, noting that it has long overdue and further welcome the process as same resonates with one of their most important values which is to listen & respond.
“We come with clean hands to you our esteemed customers for your assessment and evaluation of our service delivery to you. We remain humble to acknowledge all your accolades as well as your criticisms in good faith and to respond to your needs for better customer experience”, she said.
She added that Orange has been in Sierra Leone for almost 5 years as a reliable, capable and willing investor with a strong ambition to increase mobile penetration and the democratization of internet in the country.
Madam Haffner said it is because, Sierra Leone has one of the lowest mobile penetrations (64%), internet penetration (18%) and smartphone penetration (30%) compared to other Countries in the sub region. Africa and particularly Sierra Leone is on a catch-up trajectory for the U.S. and European economies.
She said the company strongly believe that digital inclusion is a major accelerator for inclusive growth, economic and societal development, as well as a success factor in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. This accordingly to her is why digitalization has been a core pillar in Orange strategy, adding that they have over the last 4 years played an integral role in the digital transformation of Sierra Leone.
With an Investment in excess of 1.4 trillion Leones, we have been at the forefront of connecting the 7million plus people in Sierra Leone with 3G and 4G network services. Today we can boast of over 440 sites in the country and 100% of our sites are at least 3G compatible meaning that you can access internet from every Orange site around the country. We therefore have the widest network covering 74% of the population, meaning 4 out of every 5 Sierra Leonean is an Orange customer with access to voice and data services”, she noted.
She underscores that, the companyÂ have an enriched Product and services catalogue to ensure customer satisfaction, nothing further that the company isÂ committed to the Expansion of Internet Penetration in SL and providing the best Quality of Service is a priority with theirÂ Data Portfolio and Network.
According to her, the company has done More than 140% reduction in Price with more volume for their customers in the last 4 years
With Speed and Quality as their driver and has launched Di real 4G with sites in every region of SL
In order to complement the Educational sector and improve the capacity of students, the company launched the most affordable data offer for Schools & Universities called SPAK.
“We remain the leader in Mobile financial services and continue to enrich its portfolio by being the first mover in international remittance and micro loan services;We are also the first partner for energy, mobile for development in agriculture, education and health. Our Diversification strategy will strongly impact digital inclusion in Sierra Leone as we launch of our Orange business to include new opportunities the first ever”, she maintained.
Whiles speaking on Orange Digital Center, she said the company Supporting youth and entrepreneurship, From training to start-up support, start-up acceleration, and investment.
It will consist of a coding school, Fab lab, Orange Fab and orange digital ventures. – there is a skills gap in the industry and the sector is in need of experts in critical areas as cyber security, artificial intelligence, IT automation, web/content developers etc. The sector will also benefit from competency in soft skills for improved administrative and managerial roles â€“ (promotion of local content)
In the area of Micro Utilities for community health, the company has Provide twenty-five rural health centers with equipment for the production, storage and distribution of electricity as well as equipment for data connectivity, and equipment and services for purifying and distributing water and that it Will be done in partnership with USAID
On MaternalÂ Health Services (Maternal health)
Support to raise awareness on healthy behaviors in respect of Maternal mortality and optimize maternal health care interventions in communities; she said Orange is very Prominent in the area of CSR and digitalization remains one of the core of our CSR strategy. Orange believes strongly that technology, education and human capital development will be one of the strongest lever for growth in SL.
Madam Haffner said during he outbreak of Covid-19, the educational sector was badly hit by the pandemic, and sa part of their Cooperate Social Responsibility, Orange launched its FREE online education portal with MBSSE/MTHE in March 2020 in support of sustainable quality education in the middle of the crisis. WithÂ Zero Rated e-Learning Links for Pupils & Students to access learning materials online and offering 3 months of Top Up & Data Bundle for the Contents developers (Teachers)
They also Donated Android phones to EOC for security personnel to track e-Pass along the checkpoints
Provide free data to all front line staff at the 3 treatment centers inclusive of all EOC Staff, 1Bn to NACOVERC for rural community awareness
Other CSR Actions
She said the company also committed to the Free Qualiry Education $1.5m in material assistance andÂ Launchedsuper codersÂ in 10 schools and hygiene packs for school girls and further constructed 3 Early Community Development (ECD) schoolsÂ in Kambia, Pujehun and Moyamba under FQE support.
The Launch of Women Digital School in partnership with NAYCOM to train uneducated women ICT & ICT related courses for more expertise even among the illiterate.
She said the Orange Social Venture Prize â€“Create a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their talent both on national and international platforms.
“We are aware that we are in the right direction for increased digital penetration in Sierra Leone. Despite all our effort in the area of increased coverage through additional sites & reduced prices for data we continue to encounter challenges in the area of usage mostly due to limited data compatible devices. We believe that if we are to increase access to data and usage, then we must consider the following”, she noted.
Speaking also on the area of Infrastructure, she said
The Mobile networks to continue the conversion of 2G technology to 3G & 4G to further increase the coverage especially in rural communities andÂ government to ensure the regulations support the strategy to improve connectivity.
The Zoodlab is to reduce cost for capacity and grant more access to fiber in order for Government to review the policy of taxes (Customs & GST) on devices.
To Encourage investment with development partners like EU, World bank, IMF etc., in donating smartphones to rural communities and empowering women to be digitally inclusive.
The Provision of the basic skills to provide citizens with the awareness and basic skills needed to value and use the internet and
Create gender equality by empowering women and the girl child.
She said the Content of theirÂ Services is the Creation of local content relevant to the market.
The availability of secured online content and services.
In conclusion said the company will remain committed to increased digital penetration in Sierra Leone and that theyÂ will not relent until the company attain an enviable data penetration rate like other countries in the sub region.