By Foday Moriba Conteh – August 1st 2019
Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information and Communications in collaboration with the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) is co-hosting the Commonwealth Information Communication Technology (ICT) Conference 2019. The theme of the conference is:‘Broadband for Inclusive Digital Transformation’ and is taking place at the Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
The three days conference which was declared open by the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, on 31st July 2019 is to provide the opportunity for policy-makers across Africa and the wider Commonwealth membership to share experiences and learn from each other through interactive sessions.
In his remarks the Information Minister said the forum creates the platform for participants from various segments across the ICT governance sector to learn and share knowledge of the deployment and utilization of digital transformation. He said broadband is important as it will create a more inclusive society, which in turn will increase job creation, trade and commerce and overall impact on the country’s gross domestic product.
The Director General of NATCOM, Maxwell Massaquoi in his statement expressed his institution’s delight for hosting the Commonwealth conference, which he said clearly shows government’ commitment to embracing the use of enhanced ICT for transformational socio-economic development.
He said the transformational impact of broadband on people’s lives is no longer questionable. Despite challenges relating to access gaps, infrastructure, etc, they are in no doubt that these challenges would be successfully addressed, as they can together build the broadband strategy for the future.
The DG said ‘Broadband is the future of Information Communication Technology and the future is now’ hence, the conference and the Commonwealth 2019 forum virtually mirrors one another for the good of Sierra Leone.
He added that government has taken ICT as a cornerstone for its development, which he said, they owe to the people, and that therefore, they will continue to move forward in not only addressing the digital divide but by taking broadband across all communities, chiefdoms, cities and suburbs.
The DG further assured that government will continue to put requisite policy in place in ensuring that not only internet is available but a faster internet is accessible, which according to him, will boost the investment scope and the country’s development.
The representative of the acting Secretary General, Telecommunications Organization, said the event complements the government of Sierra Leone’s vision to connect and transform the ICT sector to embrace new digital tools and emerging technologies that can hugely improve public services.
This digital transformation, he said can be achieved by having much faster broadband, increasing network coverage and building capacity for all and that it must be accessible, affordable and secure.
He cautioned that security of online services is crucial hence government must ensure that cyber security development runs hand in hand with the digital transformation.