Sentinel Telecommunications is Poised to Inject Life into Lifeless SIERRATEL

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By Amin Kef Sesay

It is now an open secret that there is a pending transition in which Sierratel is to be taken over by another telecommunications company, Sentinel Company, which is said to have a wealth of experience in the telecommunications industry, with modern facilities to compete with other telecoms companies in Sierra Leone and owned solely by Sierra Leoneans.

Many in this country are aware that Sierratel has been in the administrative doldrums for years and many staff, whom have lost hope in the current Management of the entity, are now hopeful that with the imminent arrival of the new entity their woes would be alleviated.

It is evident that since 2016 to date, Sierratel’s financial and technical performances exhibited a frightening picture: regularly applying to the Ministry of Finance for bail outs, massive reduction in revenue generated since 2016, increase in liability,non -payment of staff emolument(Salaries, leave allowances, NASSIT, PAYE, Medical, End of Service Benefits etc.) ,inefficient service delivery ,obsolete technological infrastructure to meet current demand in the telecommunications industry ,non-payment of audit fees ,no submission of Financial Statements, non-payment of dividend to Government, contraction in operations ,unaudited financial statement since 2017, poor liquidity and going concern risk, perennial strike and Management refusal to evolve.

The current liability of SIERRATEL is to the tune of Four Hundred and Eleven Billion Leones (Le 411 Billion).

In March 2020, the Commission commenced the privatization process in collaboration with relevant stakeholders including the Management of SIERRATEL as they were part of the evaluation of the Expression of Interest (EOI) and the development of the Request for Proposal (RFP) including others.

The process and content were vetted and approved by the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Ministry of Finance.

Upon completion of the process the SENTINEL Telecommunications Company Limited emerged as the most responsive company with the requisite financial and technical capacity.

The type of privatization is a Concession Agreement, not a sale, wherein the Concessionaire Sentinel Telecommunications Company Limited will build, operate and transfer Sierratel assets to Government in a viable condition.

The mode of privatization chosen for SIERRATEL is within the realm of Public Private Partnership (PPP), not only with a human face but to ensure that Sierra Leoneans are given the opportunity to compete in the process.

Promoting local content policy has been the clarion call across the nation as citizens now believe they can make a meaningful investment in Sierra Leone.

It is well known that the business landscape in Sierra Leone is largely dominated by foreigners and they control the dynamics, but the news of a local company taking over a State asset brings joy as it depicts that locals are now ambitious to redeem the business environment that has been hijacked by foreigners.

Technology is moving at an electric pace, thus those in the industry should always position themselves to catch up with the modern trend, which the current SIERRATEL Management has failed to capitalize on.

Once the concession agreement receives parliamentary ratification SIERRATEL will now be a force to reckon with as SENTINEL is around to rescue the sinking ship

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