President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday finally switched on the first submarine fibre-optic cable linking Sierra Leone to the outside world. Before now, Sierra Leone’s Internet service has been through satellite. This moveis expected to boost the country’s internet and telecommunication sector.
Currently the country has 0.8%internet penetration, but with the fibre cable going live it is projected that internet penetrationwill increase to 20% in its first year.
At the well-attended ceremony at the landing site, along Lumley beach in Freetown,President Koroma said “the laying of the fibre optic cables within our country marks another milestone in the transformation of our beloved nation.”
He added: “my government has now made huge bandwidth available in the country, and we are moving to another level.”
The President continued“that is why we are engaging with the World Bank to develop another project called e-transform Sierra Leone,” adding that the essence of this project is to develop applications for the use of this huge bandwidth.
He said examples of these applications are e-education, e-health, e-tourism, e-commerce, e-banking and e-government to name but a few.
“The available bandwidth gives Sierra Leoneans access to an array of internet based products, including high speed web surfing, video searching, online education, video conferencing, cloud computing, business process outsourcing and many more” he said.
The President noted that there will be “massive reduction” of the costs of communications.
He said the country is definitely on the move, and with the dedication from everybody,“the new possibilities will take us to prosperity faster than we think.” He emphasized“I am dedicated to this project; my government is committed to this transformation.”
Koroma said the telecoms operators, internet service providers and the Ministry of Information and Communications will now work on a roll out strategy for the benefit of the entire nation.
He reiterated that the private sector is now part of the Sierra Leone Cable (SALCAB) by virtue of its partial divestiture, saying that this is an example of the public/private partnership model that government sees as one of the best ways to move this country towards prosperity.