Datatel GSM Limited announced last week that it has been awarded a GSM wireless licence by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the Sierra Leone. The license will allow Datatel GSM to construct a wireless network using GSM and CDMA technology to provide mobile, fixed wireless and data services to businesses, Non Government Organizations (‘NGO’s’) and consumers in Sierra Leone.

Everybody is aware of the excitement surrounding the launch of ‘3G’ wireless services in Europe. Less hype surrounds the very real impact GSM wireless services are having in the emerging markets of Africa. Traditionally landline services have been the preserve of the chosen minority – high usage charges, long delays on implementation and poor standards of service prevented the widespread use of telephone services. Affordable GSM wireless services have changed this and now the ability to communicate on low cost mobile phones is becoming as common a sight in Africa as in Europe or North America.

Sierra Leone, with landline penetration of under 0.5%, typifies the traditional African market for telecommunications. However, Sierra Leone is now poised to benefit from substantial economic growth driven by political stability, deregulation and considerable foreign investment. Growth in investor and consumer confidence, greater freedom of movement and a growing awareness of wireless services are resulting in significant demand for reliable and cost effective telecommunications services.

Datatel GSM is positioned to benefit from this trend. The company is a partnership between the established Leone operator Datatel Connections, and the leading pan-African service provider, Gateway Communications. The companies have worked in partnership in Sierra Leone since 2000, delivering fixed-line and data services to the corporate, Government and NGO markets and offering calling card and dial-up Internet access to the residential market.

The company will launch services in Freetown in the second half of the year before extending network coverage to the provincial areas. The company intends to provide an extremely reliable and cost effective service by the rapid deployment of advanced GSM and CDMA infrastructure and the application of best business practises.

Christian Ogoo, Managing Director of Datatel GSM commented: “Sierra Leone is undergoing significant economic development and social change and we are proud to be able to play a part in this development. The award of the licence builds on our existing position in the communications market and signals our continued commitment and investment in the country.”