Sierra Leone launches ICT council

After rescheduling it twice last year, Sierra Leone has launched its National ICT Advisory Council, leading the way for other countries in the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) that intend to make similar moves.

The formation of the council was prescribed in the country's national ICT policy, created last year by a task force set up by President Ernest Koroma.

Sierra Leone is the first West African country to produce an ICT policy in the wake of an ECOWAS agreement to do so in 2005.

The ICT Council is responsible for giving guidance to all stakeholders in ICT sector-related matters including the formulation of ICT objectives and implementation plans, and determining requisite ICT support services for the public and private sectors. It is also responsible for monitoring the implementation of policy plans and evaluating the results.

The council will also facilitate the entrance of new players with modern technology that would guarantee affordable services to citizens into the country's communication sector.

Sierra Leone has not been participating fully in regional ICT infrastructure activities, which resulted in reliance on expensive satellite communications, with limited high-capacity bandwidth, to connect with other countries. This, coupled with a lack of a national telecommunications backbone, has created difficulties for the expansion of Internet services and advanced ICT applications.