By Abubakarr Harding
It is an indisputable fact that an offshoot of the first telecommunications company to effectively commence operations in Sierra Leone is Orange-SL and since that time, after various transitions, the company has now clocked six years doing business in Sierra Leone and it is still doing well-offering voice calls and data bundles with a growing subscriber base.
For its effective and seamless performances throughout its years of operations in the country the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq, has commended the company for holding the fort.
He commended Orange-SL for creating jobs, expanding its network and contributing to national development furthering that regardless of the economic constraints in the country, Orange-SL has not stopped investing in the country, especially on human capital development.
Indeed, the company, as widely known for, still continues to demonstrate its leadership in providing quality and affordable services to its most-cherished customers. The major successes scored in the local mobile telecommunications sector have reassured that the company’s ambition to lead the digital transformation in Sierra Leone is on course. Over the past 6 years, the company has invested over 1.7 trillion Leones in the areas of network modernization & expansion, Human Resources, and corporate social responsibility.
It has constructed over 300 new sites, modernized its network infrastructure, and built a data center in Freetown with a second data center currently under construction in Bo. Today, Orange-SL can boast of the largest network with the widest coverage in the country with over 538 sites connecting over 2,000 new localities with voice and data services.
The company has contributed to the improvement of data penetration with the launch of 4G and 4G+ services in 2019 and 2021 respectively. As a compliant company, it respects its tax obligations in the country and is one of the largest taxpayers in Sierra Leone, which has paid over 835 billion Leones in taxes and Regulatory fees.
Orange-SL fully understands that its success is heavily reliant on a vibrant Human Resource. It has invested about 225 billion Leones in the last 6 years mainly in the capacity building ensuring that employees benefit from soft skills, and technical and leadership training. The company nurtures talent from on-boarding, ensures retention, and provides exposure opportunities to other orange affiliates.
Today, the company has gainfully employed about 400 direct staff and has created over 40,000 indirect employees. This is done in a bid to promote local content and ensures skills transfer from experts to locals not forgetting women’s empowerment.
The Company’s Mobile Financial Services, Orange Money is currently leading the financial inclusion in Sierra Leone giving access to thousands of Sierra Leoneans with safe, secured, and efficient digital financial transactions, while its renewable energy business compliment the government’s drive to enhance access to electricity.
At the heart of Orange’s strategy is its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. The company strongly emphasizes good environmental, health, and safety practices and remains the first Telco to acquire an Environmental Impact Assessment License in 2018. In its ambition to become zero net carbon by 2040, Orange-SL migrated over 65% of its sites to solar energy.
In 2021, the company launched its Foundation to support projects aimed at improving human development in education, health, and culture with a strong focus on women and youth. The Foundation has invested over 13 billion Leones to execute many activities. The Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Education has constructed 5 Early Childhood Development Schools and has launched 4 of the same in Kenema, Pujehun, Kambia, and Port Loko in support of the government’s Free Quality Education Agenda.
Under its health pillar, the Foundation has provided a multi-screening booth for antenatal and postnatal care at Kroo-Bay and it also refurbished the Kroo Bay Community Health Centre to promote health care delivery in the community. Additionally, the Foundation has refurbished 5 wards at PCMH with major interventions in the area of WASH. In the area of digital inclusion, Orange Foundation opened the first-ever Women’s Digital Centre in 2021 in partnership with NAYCOM to help train uneducated and unemployed women in basic commercial, digital and financial management. So far, 126 women have graduated from this center.
Orange-SL has also established the Orange Digital Centre along Wilkinson Road, to provide free digital training to youths specializing in Web/Mobile App Development, and soft skills, a Fab Lab to promote innovation, and an Orange Fab to enhance entrepreneurship. Very soon it will be launching these centers in the provinces.
“We want to thank the Government for providing a conducive environment for businesses to thrive. We also extend our gratitude to our regulator, partners, customers, and employees for accompanying us through this six-year journey. A journey that has been fret with many challenges, misconceptions but also resounding successes,” says the CEO of Orange-SL Sekou Amadou Bah and assured that his company remains focused to provide that which is essential to the daily lives of Sierra Leoneans. “We will continue to do so with zero tolerance to corruption and fraud as Orange maintains strong policies and processes against corruption and fraud in line with local and international laws and conventions,” he said and added that the company will continue to respect every law that is applicable to its business and as a responsible Corporate citizen it will continue to invest in Sierra Leone.
“We remain committed to delivering on our promise to provide the best telecommunications services in Sierra Leone and we hope the Government will continue to consider us as a reference partner in socio-economic and ICT development,” Bah assured.