An estimated 200,000 Liberians have acquired, and are making use of phones of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) while thousands others are scrambling for theirs.

According to a recent report captioned "Doing Business in Liberia," released by the Economic and Commercial Section of the United States Embassy in Monrovia, four licensed GSM companies, Lonestar Communications Corporation; Comium Liberia Incorporated; Atlantic Wireless Liberia Inc./LiberCell and Cellcom Telecommunications Inc., are currently operating in Liberia.

"Thousands of Liberians are scrambling to acquire mobile phones. According to recent estimates, the total number of mobile subscribers is in excess of 200,000," the embassy said.

Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC), the nation's principal operator, has the legislative mandate to operate, build and provide fixed telecommunication facilities and services within Liberia. But the report said that LTC's difficulties are compounded by gross mismanagement and lack of vision.

"The corporation has failed to take advantage of opportunities in the mobile and Internet sectors. Recently, the LTC was tendered for private management, but because of discrepancies in the bidding process, the process was suspended," said the U.S. Embassy.

The American Government, however, pointed out that LTC's resuscitation prospects are favorable, provided the corporation is reorganized to shed government intervention and incompetent bureaucrats who have used LTC as a source of income for personal and unofficial business.

Liberian Observer