Sierra Leone’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Africell SL, has launched commercial third-generation cellular services, enabling subscribers to access new services such as videocalling, instant messaging and high speed internet access, AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking at the 3G launch ceremony, Africell’s CEO Shadi Al-Gerjawi noted: ‘The service is the gateway to a new life experience. We are excited about 3G because we see it as something that will begin to transform people’s lives in many ways.’ The GSM operator, registered as Lintel SL, is a subsidiary of African holding company Africell, itself owned by Lebanon-based telco Lintel Holding, and launched 900MHz services in February 2005, before passing a million users in September 2010, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. In November 2009 Africell acquired rival GSM operator Tigo Sierra Leone from Luxembourg’s Millicom International Cellular. The acquisition enabled the rapid expansion of its network to all district headquarter towns, including Freetown and its immediate environs; Africell’s GSM network currently covers 82% of the country’s populated areas.