Evaluation of the SLPP’s ICT Infrastructure Development Progress as the Elections Approach
By the Sierra Leone Live Team.
The 2018 SLPP Manifesto acknowledged the significance of ICT (Information, Communications, and Technology) infrastructure development in Sierra Leone. The manifesto emphasized the critical role that ICT plays in enhancing human life, fostering economic growth, and boosting a nation’s competitiveness. As the elections on June 24, 2023 approach, Sierra Leone Live is committed to investigating whether the SLPP has accomplished its stated goals.
Despite having a monopoly in the sector, Sierratel, the state-owned telecommunications company, had performed poorly over the years, according to the manifesto’s analysis of the situation. The manifesto highlighted the rapid decline of landline telecommunications technology and the ascendance of mobile networks. With fiber optic cables in the country in 2013, the manifesto expected a substantial decrease in communication costs and continued expansion of the sector.
The manifesto identified several obstacles, such as political interference, ineffective regulation, and a lack of transparency in the telecommunications industry. The increasing demand of the younger generation for data bandwidth and real-time communication with their global peers was also identified as a challenge.
To address these challenges, the SLPP’s New Direction proposed several measures, including depoliticizing the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), liberalizing the sector, providing good regulation and an enabling business environment, establishing an Electronic Governance system, and expanding public access to ICT, especially for the rural poor. In addition, the manifesto emphasized the significance of science education, community radio stations, and ICT equipment availability incentives.
Sierra Leone Live will examine the following aspects as part of our investigation into the SLPP’s progress in developing ICT infrastructure:
- NATCOM’s efficiency and independence: Has the SLPP successfully depoliticized NATCOM, allowing it to carry out its duties effectively and efficiently?
- Sector liberalization and regulation: What steps have been taken to liberalize the telecommunications sector, and has the regulatory environment been improved to stimulate the growth of the sector?
- Electronic Governance System: Has the SLPP implemented an Electronic Governance system to electronically manage government operations?
- Public access to ICT: Have measures been taken to increase public access to ICT, especially in rural areas, and to provide computer training and facilities in public libraries, schools, and other educational institutions?
- Community radio stations and ICT equipment availability: Has the SLPP encouraged the establishment of community radio stations and provided incentives for ICT equipment availability?
- Science education and technical workforce development: What targeted policies have been implemented to promote science education in schools and colleges, and have they resulted in a growing pool of technical and scientific labour?
- Broadband access and rural telecommunications: Has the SLPP enhanced broadband access throughout the nation and enhanced rural telecommunications, customer choice, and affordability?
In the coming weeks, Sierra Leone Live will publish a comprehensive and unbiased report on the SLPP’s performance in developing ICT infrastructure, shedding light on the party’s success in addressing the challenges outlined in its 2018 manifesto.