By Ralph Sesay
Members of Parliament on Thursday have given support to the findings of the Special Technical Audit report conducted by government to probe into the Telecommunications, Energy, Social Security and the Road sectors under the Koroma government by underscoring the point that the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) should comply with the Telecommunications Act of Sierra Leone as a telecommunications operator in the country.
Parliament had called on SALCAB during an interface with lawmakers to comply with the dictates of NATCOM as enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 2006.
MP’s had threatened to raise a motion to halt the operations of SALCAB if they fail to adhere with the dictates of the Telecommunications Act.
Board Chairman SALCAB,Mr. Sorie Fofanah while responding to the concerns raised by the lawmakers noted that his institution is operating under the Telecoms Act of 2006 but they would not subject the entity to regulation or register with NATCOM.
Mr. Fofanah further told the MPs that SALCAB was not created as a result of an Act of Parliament.
The Special Technical Audit report had pinpointed that SALCAB has telecommunications equipment in use under the WiMax project, and that they have not found any evidence that these equipment were approved by the regulator, NATCOM, as required by section 45 of the Telecommunications Act, 2006.
The Auditors noted that SALCAB was at risk of penalties due to non-compliance with the law.
The Special Audit Report at the time had recommended that SALCAB should seek for type-approvals for all its telecommunications equipment from the regulator, (NATCOM), which are in use for their operations.
The auditors had stated in their final report that, in their professional opinion, SALCAB is a telecommunications operator in Sierra Leone and is subject to licensing under the Telecommunications Act, 2006.
It is their considered view that SALCAB should seek for type-approvals for their telecommunications equipment in use under the Telecommunications Act.
The auditors, as a matter of fact, encouraged SALCAB to license under the Telecommunications Act.
The Management at SALCAB was also entreated to comply with the provisions of the said Act, in relation to type-approvals.
The Management of SALCAB in their response to the draft management letter, according to the auditor’s report, responded that SALCAB is registered under the Companies Act, 2009 and therefore is not regulated by the Telecommunications Act, 2006.
The Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) was created by an Act of Parliament in 2012 with support from the World Bank to land and manage the fiber optic submarine cable through the African Coast to Europe’s terrestrial infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities at the submarine fibre optic cable landing station in Freetown and network operations centre in Jui and other ADM stations across the country.
We are not sure how this will end up between the lawmakers and SALCAB but what it is very clear is that SALCAB is an ISP provider, managing the fiber optic submarine cable on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone and hence they should be regulated by the national regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission.
By Ralph Sesay