Sierra Leone: U.S.$15 Million Chinese Loan to Complete Fibre Optic Connection


Sierra Leone has signed a US$15 million loan agreement with China to complete its connectivity to the Africa Coast to Europe ACE cable scheduled to be switched on by October.According to Xu Zhou, Head of Political Affairs at the Chinese embassy in Sierra Leone today, the loan agreement was signed on 14th August, 2012.

"With the signing of this agreement, it means that the Chinese government has approved the amount of US$15 million and the project would be implemented by a Chinese company Huawei. It was just a simple signing agreement without too many details," Zu said on the phone last week.

The Chinese Ambassador Kuang Weilin described the agreement as part of the bilateral and development cooperation between the two countries.

Sierra Leone funded its connection to its first fibre optic with a line of credit to the tune of US$31 million which it received from the World Bank to boost its ICT communications sectors. A total of $71.5 million was approved by the World Bank for broadband development across Africa last year for three major projects aimed at boosting ICT infrastructure and access to services in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.

In another development, the Sierra Leone government, through the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SALCAB, has also announced an international competitive bidding for an expression of interest for consultancy services from reputable organizations to perform project supervision for the implementation of the 660km fibre backhaul and wimax access network in the country and the evaluation of bids for the development and deployment of ECOWAS Regional Backbone and e-Governance programme ECOWAN-Sierra Leone project which will be supported with a US$28.27 million loan received from the Islamic Development Bank IDB.

The consulting firm would also be expected to prepare quarterly project implementation progress reports, semi-annual reports and project completion report which shall be produced within three months of the completion of the project.

The ECOWAN project is expected to deepen regional socio-economic integration and development, and facilitate trade among member States, and with the rest of the world.