Sierra Leone’s fibre-optic infrastructure project still on track

9 Aug 2013

Julius Kamara, the project coordinator of the West African Regional Communications Programme (WARCIP-SL), a project within Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) created to provide the infrastructure for the landing of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable in the country, has announced that although recent delays have hindered the fibre infrastructure development project, the programme is still on track. MySierraLeoneOnline reports the executive as stating that WARCIP-SL has accomplished its objective to land the cable in Freetown, and is currently tasked with reviewing Sierra Leone’s Telecommunications Act of 2004; a framework supporting open access to national and international infrastructure and services is to be adopted in the near future. Mr Kamara also disclosed that the ministry has already received proposals from companies which want to provide high speed broadband services to the government. State-owned incumbent wireline operator Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel), which is in charge of providing the national backbone infrastructure, is understood to be laying the underground cable from the metropolitan area to the landing site, for the distribution of the fibre-optic cabling to the rest of the country.

The managing director of broadband operator LimeLine, Foday Sankoh, on other hand, stated that providing infrastructure alone is not enough to bring down the prices of broadband connectivity, as private companies spend huge amounts of money on fuelling their masts and internet equipment; he did, however, express optimism that the provision of reliable electricity supply and the liberalisation of the gateway will help accomplish one of WARCIP-SL’s main objectives, namely to reduce costs of communication and internet services.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in February 2013 Sierra Leone launched its connection to the ACE submarine cable system, providing the West African country with its first direct fibre-optic link to the global internet. The cable was expected to provide much needed capacity to meet rising demand for voice and data services, as well as supporting various projects such as e-government, e-health, e-commerce and e-education. The 17,000km ACE cable system, which went live in 13 countries in December 2012, will eventually connect 23 countries running from France to South Africa along the west coast of Africa.