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The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Sheka Tarawalie, has told the International Telecommunications Union’s Annual Regional Development Forum for Africa held in Kigali, Rwanda, that later this year, Sierra Leone will join and enjoy the benefits of the fibre optic experience as most modern nations are doing today.
The Minister, when given the podium on Thursday 10th May 2012 to share the Sierra Leonean ICT experience alongside ministers from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, said when the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma assumed office in 2007, there was virtually no existing project on ICT, the virtual most important tool for concrete and sustainable socio-economic development in any nation today.
However, he said Sierra Leone has not only been able to land the first submarine fibre optic cable, but has secured funding for the construction of the terrestrial backbone and sub-regional interconnection. This according to the minister will see cities, towns and villages within Sierra Leone not only being connected but also connected to cities, towns, and villages in the sub-region.
Minister Tarawalie went on that, the country is on the verge of reaching the summit from which it can properly view the ICT horizon, with all its immense opportunities, including mass employment especially for the youth. He maintained that President Koroma’s commitment and seriousness about the ICT revolution is underlined by the decision to form the ICT Council, of which the President himself is Chairman of a council.
He further explained that in-between the imminent fibre optic connection and what they inherited, Government, through the Ministry of Information and Communications, has been able to set up resource centers for ICT access to the public through VSAT installations. He also stated that government has provided e-learning facilities for the university and tele-medicine amenities for the main hospital in Freetown linking them with universities and hospitals outside Sierra Leone respectively.
He said Government’s desire to provide equitable access to ICTs informed the setting up of the Universal Access Development Fund, and that it is also such a desire that has caused the proposed divestiture of at least 50% shares of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited to the public.
He also said the pilot e-government programme is underway, as well as a project on cyber security.
The minister concluded his presentation by stating that Sierra Leone’s strides at embracing ICT in full are being recognized by influential international organizations like the ITU.
He further revealed that in June this year, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) will be hosted in Freetown at the rural communities connectivity forum, which according to him, will certainly raise Sierra Leone’s profile internationally and at the same time raise awareness locally on the inevitable significance of ICT in our world today.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
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