By Bampia James Bundu: Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications
The Ministry of Information and Communications in partnership with the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) has engaged stakeholders in the Telecoms sector on the proposed National Electronics Communications Bill 2020 at the J&E Resort in Bo.
In attendance at the event which took place on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September 2020, were Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and a host of other personalities in the sector.
In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Madam Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara, implored participants to contribute meaningfully to the process.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, on his part explained that the objective of the stakeholders validation workshop on the draft Electronics Communications Bill 2020 was to build a consensus for the development of predictable legal and regulatory framework for the ICT/Telecoms sector.
He added that the reform will establish a legal regime that promotes a technology-neutral regulatory environment aimed at facilitating the deployment, exploitation and development of new ICT/Telecom products, services and system within the economy and society.
He stated that the validation is the product of their collective effort to making the draft law an all-inclusive national document.
Minister Swaray said that the draft Electronics Communications Bill is government's intention to address the critical legal and regulatory areas that are needed to lay the basis for transforming Sierra Leone into a digital economy and position the country for inclusive sustainable socio-economic development leveraging the opportunities ICT/Telecom provides.
He urged participants to make their inputs and hoped that at the end of the validation exercise they would come out with a strong document that speaks the minds of all players in the sector.
In her statement, the Acting Chairperson of NATCOM, Madam Madiana Samba, expressed thanks and appreciation to the leadership of the Ministry of Information and Communications for their commitement towards ensuring that the process becomes a success.
She noted that the draft proposed National Electronics Communications Bill 2020 provides an opportunity for improved delivery of telecommunications services for all players within the sector - regulator, operators and consumers.
She described the telecommunications sector as a dynamic sector that needs legal review and development.
She urged participants to take the validation exercise seriously as it aimed to make the sector attractive.
Speaking on behalf of Civil Society Organizations, William Sao Lamin commended the Information Minister and his team for the brilliant initiative.
He described the communications sector as a key sector that connects with almost all other MDAs in the country and assured of their fullest support to the process.
Speaking on behalf of Mobile Phone Operators, Madam Haffie Haffner representing Orange, thanked the Ministry of Information and NATCOM for involving them in the validation process and assured of their support throughout.
She however pointed out that the proposed bill directly affects them therefore they were keen to make their recommendations for the overall success of the process.
Representatives from the APC, NGC, C4C and the Leader of Government Business in Parliament all pledged their support to the process.
A Power Point presentation on the draft National Electronics Communications Bill 2020 by the Acting Director of Communications in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mohamed M. Jalloh, climaxed the opening ceremony.