Sierra Leone News: NATCOM threatens Internet providers
28 July 2017
High internet tariffs by service providers have created a gulf in accessing internet in Sierra Leone.
“…the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states,” said the report from Frank La Rue, a special rapporteur to the United Nations.
In his report, “on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression” it is crystal clear that access to the internet is unquestionably a human right.
The Chairman of the National Telecommunication (NATCOM), Momoh Konte, has urged internet service providers to reduce their tariffs.
At a telecommunications mast launching in Levuma, Bo District, the NATCOM Chairman said, “the cost of internet in the country is expensive… we are appealing to Africell, Airtel/Orange and SALCAB that by the 15 August 2017 they should reduce the cost of internet and if they failed to reduce it NATCOM would come in and reduce it by 20%.
He said, “Demand drives profit” and the telecom companies should factor that on their business plan.” Notwithstanding his demand Chairman Konte said that “telecommunication is not a cheap thing.” “…these companies are business and businesses runs on profit. If there is no profit there is no need to invest…” he said.
However, according to a March 2013 study by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) titled: ‘International Internet Connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa’ the reasons for the high cost of Internet connection in sub-Saharan Africa are as a result of inadequate investment in telecommunications; unfavourable economic market conditions; lack of competition in some market segments and international Internet connection costs.
However, Airtel/Orange CEO Sekou Drame has announced the company’s improvement plan and pledge to invest $33 million USD to do so.