By Amin Kef (Ranger)
During the opening of the 2nd ECOWAS Ministerial Steering and Expert Committee on the Amilcar Cabral Submarine Cable Project which was held on the 3rd April, 2023 at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, personally welcomed all, also expressing gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission for availing Sierra Leone the singular honour to host the 2nd Ministerial Steering and Expert Committee on the Amilcar Cabral Submarine Cable project.
He intimated that the Ministerial Steering Committee and the Expert Committee provides an excellent opportunity for participating member States in the project to create ownership as well as learn and share their experiences of successes and challenges in the deployment and utilization of critical digital infrastructure such as the undersea Fibre optic cable.
He personally commended the ECOWAS Commission and in particular the Directorate of Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization and the Project Preparatory Development Unit (PPDU) for conceiving the project which, he said, is so relevant to all of having only a single cable as they create the enabling environment to expand broadband technologies.
The Minister pointed out that the project will support the Government in developing a strategic approach to address the potential risk of having a single submarine cable, as well as to better leverage the potential such brings to improved efficiency of the broadband market in Sierra Leone.
He revealed how Sierra Leone was one of the first countries in West Africa to commit to improving the geographical reach of high-speed connectivity to its citizens through an undersea internet cable, the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), which benefitted from the World Bank Group financing.
“The GoSL has made significant efforts to develop the terrestrial backbone networks that connect the ACE submarine cable to its citizens and neighboring countries,” he further stated adding that currently Sierra Leone has about 1,600 km of in-country core fiber backbone network that connects most major cities and towns as well as linking to two neighboring countries to Zimmi at the Liberia border and onwards to Gbalamuya at the border with Guinea.
He maintained that the project resonates with the Government’s medium-term National Development Plan and the National Digital Development Policy and strategy in line with the Government agenda of developing a resilient and affordable Digital Ecosystem to achieve his Excellency’s vision of transforming Sierra Leone into an inclusive digital economy and society with a digitally empowered citizenry supporting sustainable economic development, democracy, national security, and good governance.
According to him, it is in sync with the ‘Leave No One Behind’ vision of the United Nations (UN) as espoused in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ‘Africa we want’ Principle of the African Union as enshrined in its 2063 Vision and the ECOWAS harmonized policies on ICT.
The Minister ended his statement by joining other speakers to emphasize the importance of the meeting and to invite all to take a collaborative approach to adopting a regional approach towards the design and implementation of the project.
He encouraged all to take advantage of the varied Sierra Leonean hospitalities and make the best of their stay here in Freetown before officially declaring the three days 2nd Ministerial Steering and Expert Committee on the Amilcar Cabral Submarine Cable Project open also wishing all fruitful deliberations.