Exactly a year ago, His Excellency, the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, appointed Maxwell Hingha Massaquoi to provide leasdership for the National Telecommunications Commission- NATCOM as the Director General, ably assisted by Daniel Bobson Kaitibi the Deputy Director General.
Maxwell H. Massaquoi, Director-General NATCOM
Within this period, there has been several upward drives in work related activities at the commission: good office ambience, Staff morale and motivation, work tools, and respect and respectability from sector operators. With the unwavering support of the Board of Directors, NATCOM is now on an even keel to deliver on its mandate.
Let me use this opportunity to say thanks to His Excellency the President for reposing confidence in me.
There are several highlights of some of the robust changes underpinned by the current administration at NATCOM.
Immediately after we took over reigns of leadership, we undertook substantial renovation and refurbishment on the NATCOM HQ building. The thrust behind that move stemmed from the fact that the HQ was not only in a dilapidated condition with no running water, but the structure was not ideal to be the HQ of regulatory body charged with the mandate of overseeing the operations of multinational companies
Accessibility and affordability of telecoms services have increased nationwide; several underserved and unserved communities now enjoy telecoms services hence improving on our rural connectivity. On-net and Off-net costs are now harmonized, cost of data bundles have been reduced thereby making available some more disposable income to the consumers from savings made.
We have ensured a fairer and non-discriminatory market structure and forestalled predatory pricing. There has been marked improvement in the 3G and 4G technology roll-outs as a result of policies put in place to reduce capital expenditure and operational expenditure. This has increased voice and data penetration tremendously.
Quality of service from the sector operators have shown some marked improvement. Digital Economy is on an upward mobility.
In order to adequately address the challenges posed by emerging technologies and regulatory dilemmas faced by operators, the commission is working on five (5) new regulations to be rolled out shortly.
Improving on the Commission’s visibility has surged dramatically due to the designing of programs by our outreach unit with the ultimate aim of improving consumer vigilance and awareness. We recognized the need of taking the Commission closer to the people so as to improve their understanding on the mandate of the Commission and providing the opportunity of registering their concerns to us. This strategy has helped the consumers in making informed choices on services rendered by the operators.
An MOU on free roaming has been signed among regulators in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
We have continued to improve on the digital skills of our compatriots by providing the relevant trainings for them.
Quite recently the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) organized an ICT Forum in Freetown on the theme ‘Broadband for Inclusive Digital Transformation” It was a very insightful ICT Forum and our country stands to benefit immensely from the outcome of the conference. Several topics discussed in the sessions were very pertinent to the country’s ICT enhancement, key amongst them were: The Digital Economy, Universal Connectivity, 5G Deployment, Internet Governance, Over The Top Services, Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies, Data Protection, Privacy and Mining, Digital Terrestrial Television Switchover, etc..
We recognize ICT as an important driver of national socio-economic transformation and my team and I are poised to provide fair regulation and coordinate with relevant stakeholders to provide connectivity for all, digital inclusion and affordability, leaving no one behind
We have continued to ensure robust regulatory compliance and enforcement across the sector. Several new regulations have been drafted.
On the International front, Sierra Leone has regained its rightful place in all International Telecommunications bodies.
Telecoms fraud has been greatly mitigated because of the robust stance taken against it by the commission. Cognizant of the fact that cyber-attacks are a threat to all of us and have become more complex, a cybersecurity strategy document is near completion after several discussions and dialogues. The commission has put in an integrated approach to cybersecurity.
The Director General’s effort and exemplary outstanding performance is visible for all to see as there is a drastic turn of events in a positive trajectory at the commission and the sector as a whole.