Sierra Leone: Let's Strengthen Sierratel With National Support

The rebranded Sierratel headquarters' building on Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown

Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company Limited (Sierratel), which is the country's sole state-owned telecommunication service provider, needs the support of every Sierra Leonean to regain its past glory.

Sierratel, which provides communications products including telephone, internet, security systems, and smart home automation, among others, came into existence on 1st April, 1995, as an outcome of a merger between two former state-owned telecommunication entities-Sierra Leone External Telecommunications Company Limited (SLET) and Sierra Leone National Telecommunication Company (SLNTC).

At the moment, Sierratel remains Sierra Leone's sole landline service provider an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) which does landline services, voice and internet.

Currently, Sierratel's services include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)-which has (voice, affordable tariff and low cost handsets), 4GLTE, Business Solutions (direct fibre connectivity, dedicated bandwidth, virtual private network Links), and ADSL.

Its accessories include landline phones, internet services (MiFi, routers, and modems), and mobile phones (at affordable cost).

Sierratel's new management, headed by Foday Sankoh, vowed to phase-out the obsolete CDMA technology and its aged fixed copper wire network infrastructure, in order to meet the growing market demands.

When the obsolete CDMA technology would have been phased-out, Sierratel would swiftly go Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) to accelerate subscriber acquisition, revenue growth, extend distribution footprint and market penetration.

Sierratel's 4G/LTE expansion project continues to provide reliable ultra-speed internet experience to customers nationwide.

As a way of supporting President Bio's human capital development drive, the new management of Sierratel has prioritised the establishment of a Centre of Excellence, which would be a graduate training centre for new engineers and business administration graduates to put into practice their university study with the workplace's daily requirements.

The above mentioned transformative drive could be achieved if only the state-owned institution is strengthened with national support.

Currently, Sierratel has reduced its tariff significantly so as to encourage 'low end subscribers' to access and enjoy its facilities.

For instance, on-net unlimited calls now go for Le2,000 daily and Le18,000 monthly.

Sierratel's officials have recently reviewed prices for broadband internet services.

To retain existing customers, Sierratel has given 50 percent data bonus, and those customers who had left and are encouraged to come back, including new ones, would be given 50 percent price reduction on current uptake.

There is a proposed dedicated channel for Sierratel on ITV, which would begin on 8th November, 2019, and its authorities would use this channel to be putting out information about Sierratel including other ministries, departments and agencies' (MDAs) activities, on a 24-hour basis.

Sierratel's website which is www.sierratel.sl, has been revamped and it's populated with the required contents.

Plans are underway to launch an 'End of Year' promo for the 4GLite mobile data.

Sierratel's officials would open an outlet in Lungi for the 4GLite mobile data promotion for 60 days.

On an average, since the launch of the landline phones, 400 were being installed in the month of October alone and on a monthly basis, over 400 landline phones are being installed.

Plans are underway to launch a national telephone directory in Sierra Leone.

One of the ways to strengthen Sierratel could be the installation of its services to all MDAs.

If at least 50 percent of mobile phone users in Sierra Leone would become subscribers of Sierratel's services, the institution would be strengthened and the needed revenue would be generated for national development.

As a way of enhancing our local content policy, let's embrace Sierratel and contribute to its growth.

Most times, we keep grumbling that some of Sierratel's services are not appealing but we need to give them a try, especially at a time when the new management is bracing up for transformation in the modern telecoms era.

From all indication, it is clear that the institution needs huge investment and it is the responsibility of every Sierra Leonean to make an input so as to revamp the only state-owned telecoms operator.

By Joseph S. Margai, Strategic Communications Coordinator (Office of the President)

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