International liberalisation troubles Sierratel

27 Feb 2012

The planned liberalisation of the international gateway in Sierra Leone could lead to serious financial difficulties for the state-owned telecoms operator Sierratel, its chairman has said. Tom Kargbo has told the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information that opening up of the international gateway would see it losing around USD150,000 in revenue each month, a report from PC Advisor suggests. Sierratel currently holds a monopoly on international services and charges mobile operators Airtel, Africell and Comium, as well as the country’s internet service providers, for access. However, the World Bank is insisting that the international gateway be opened up to competition in order for Sierra Leone to be eligible to participate in a consortium to construct a 17,000km undersea cable, the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) system. The ACE cable, which will link France to South Africa and connect with around 20 West African countries, is expected to be commercial before the end of this year.