Sierra Leone’s monopoly fixed line operator Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel) has secured a USD29.5 million loan agreement with India, after the funding was ratified by the country’s parliament. The telco plans to use the funds to modernise its network by replacing most of its copper transmission networks with fibre-optics. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Momodu Kargbo said the loan will help Sierratel expand infrastructure in Freetown and Lunghi and roll out networks in Port Loko, Makeni, Koidu and Moyamba. He added that the national carrier will also construct a high-capacity trunk rail network between Freetown and other areas, computerise all aspects of its operations for delivery and effective revenue collection, and provide enabling capacity for the company to begin offering broadband internet.
The loan follows Sierratel’s launch of a 3G CDMA network in April 2009 with help from Chinese equipment vendor Huawei. The project was funded through a loan from the China Import-Export (Exim) Bank and has complemented the telco’s existing infrastructure with an extra 100,000 lines in Freetown and 14 other cities.