Sierra Leone’s government has approved the Telecommunications Amendment Act 2015, which will see the liberalisation of the country’s international gateway, the Awareness Times reports. The new bill repeals and replaces Section (33) of the 2006 Telecommunications Act (as amended); the preceding legislation entrusted the ownership and operation of the international gateway to Sierra Leonean incumbent operator Sierratel, which in turn subcontracted its management to Teltac Africa. Further, telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) is said to have identified an international gateway monitoring system (IGMS) for the operation of the newly liberalised gateway, which ‘will provide robust management, fraud detection and transparent system of revenue collection from voice and data traffic’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in return for a USD31 million funding from the World Bank to subsidise Sierra Leone’s connection to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, the government said it would end Sierratel’s monopoly on the international gateway for voice calls in September 2012. The amendment to the Telecommunication Act of 2006 was subsequently postponed and ahead of the new set date (5 July 2013), Sierratel’s management voiced its concern that the end of the international monopoly would be disastrous for its finances. However, exasperated by the lack of progress, the World Bank suspended the Sierra Leonean component of the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (WARCIP) project in September 2014 due to several ‘blatant’ breaches of the agreement.