Datatel GSM, a joint venture between South Africa’s Gateway Communications and Sierra Leone-based Datatel Connections, has been awarded a licence to construct a network using GSM and CDMA technology. The start-up plans to launch a commercial service in the capital Freetown in the second half of 2004, following which it will roll out its service coverage to encompass the country’s provinces. Datatel GSM will offer mobile, fixed wireless access and data services to business, consumer and non-government organisations (NGOs) and hopes to capitalise on the urgent need for communications services in a country where fixed line penetration is running at under 0.5%. Commenting on the licence award, the newcomer’s managing director Christian Ogoo said: ‘Sierra Leone is undergoing significant economic development and social change and we are proud to be able to play a part in this development’. The country has recently experienced a period of political stability and deregulation of the market has led to a growth in investor and consumer confidence, and greater freedom of movement, resulting in increased demand for reliable, low-cost telecoms services.