U.S.$5 Million Boost for ICT Development in Sierra Leone

Computing

The minister of Information and Communication has received an approval letter from the World Bank for a US$5 million grant to facilitate the preparation of a project that will constitute the first phase of a 'West Africa Regional Connectivity Programme' designed to support populations, businesses and governments across the sub-region to have access to quality and affordable information and communication technology services on an open, transparent and non-discriminatory terms.

The letter of approval for the US$ 5million, with the remaining amount to be approved by the Bank's board, was handed over to Minister Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo by the World Bank's lead ICT policy specialist, Doyle Roy Gallegos at the Pullman Hotel in Paris.

The whole programme is been coordinated by the ministry of information and communication with the Alhaji I.B. Kargbo as leader and assisted by his deputy minister, Haja Saidata Sesay and the communication directorate headed by Mohamed Alie Bah.

It could be recalled that during the last AU summit in Addis Ababa, President Ernest Bai Koroma made the request to the World Bank through its vice president, which has now received a favourable response.
(Source: Concord Times)

*Ambitious ICT Company in Nigeria Seeks Finance Partners for Ongoing Expansion

Nigeria-based Voix Networks Limited, an ICT products and services provider is seeking investors to finance its planned countrywide expansion. The company's 1st stage of the network in central Abuja went live in May and covers 125 sq kms of fibre optic.

Nigeria's robust mobile telecommunications market has obscured the urgent need for a fixed line broadband network that can provide stable, high speed, high quality and low cost connectivity. The lack of such a network means services such as 'Point of Sale' terminals for credit card transaction are barely operational and where they are found, they are running on unstable wireless technology. In addition to restricted services and poor quality, consumers are paying top rate call fees via the GSM networks that could be reduced by 60% if carried on both local and international fixed lines.

Nigeria-based Voix Networks Limited, an information and communication technology products and services provider, is one company that is taking full advantage of the existing gap and aims to become the leading fixed line telecommunications operator in the country.

In 2007, Voix Networks acquired a Private Network Lease (PNL) licence, which allowed it to deploy a network of fixed telephone lines in the capital city Abuja and the six neighbouring states. The 1st stage of the network, built at a cost $50 million, went live in May 2010. The network covers 125 sq kms of fibre optic around central Abuja and encompasses an initial target client market of 50,000 subscribers. The company's clients include: shop owners within major shopping malls, complexes and local markets, major hotels, private residences, security estates and compounds, as well as embassies.

Voix Networks is now aggressively marketing the services and expects to have secured over 50,000 clients in the next 6 months.

Voix Networks is looking for financial partners and investors to maximize its strategic advantage. The company is seeking to raise up to $50m in tranches over the next 12 months to support client take-up on current network and to begin the 2nd and 3rd stages of network deployment to extend its coverage nationwide. Debt and equity finance options will be considered.