NATCOM Sierra Leone Celebrates 2 Years

For those of you who don’t know NATCOM, well they regulate the Telecomms Industry in Sierra Leone i.e. they ensure that mobile phone companies like Zain, Africell and Commium are kept in check. /tge also oversee, radio

Recently they fined Zain for breaches in contract or raising prices without notifying consumers. For me, it was one of those moments, I rubbed my hands with glee! Yep! because Zain, towards the end of last year, increased thei price of their Unlimited Internet Access package from $80 to about $300!!!!! YEESSSSSS! Insane, but this is Africa. After few, phone calls, I was told it was done to stop the overloading of their server and ensure handset users enjoyed smooth service. Felt like flushing my Zain phone! I mean what are they like! But I’m sure, NATCOM fined them for other offenses. From what I know, the matter is in court.

And to this day the extortionate price remains. I guess I should not be complaining since I moved from Zain to Sierratel, long before this. But this affects me too as there was mass migration to Sierratel, thus the reasonably fast internet speed I was enjoyind dipped and hasn’t recovered since. Even if I wasn’t so directly affected, I’ll still write this, as I absolutely dislike the way prices are put up here with no recourse to any authority or consumer body.

In addition to Zain, they have been successfuly catching and arresting folks conducting illegal mobile phone and radio activities.

The chairman Mr Siray Timbo highlighted all thier major achievements which include, newly refurbished premises, establishment of Cyber Crime Task Force, the setting up of Approval Laboratory and the establishment of 6 Zonal offices in all the headquater townships.
For me this industry affects me a great deal as I use it to blog and do business. So more



2 thoughts on “NATCOM Sierra Leone Celebrates 2 Years

  1. Uhmmm… In addition to Zain, they have been successfuly catching and arresting folks conducting illegal mobile phone and radio activities.

    NATCOM arrested the VSAT service providers as well. They have set a horrific precedent. It’s tantamount to holding an internet cafe liable to people using their computers for 419! Or Arresting Zain officials because someone used a zain phone line to make threatening phone calls. Again arrested a Fuel station owner because they sold fuel to a car that went on to used in an armed robbery.

    NATCOM did not fine Zain because it failed to notify it’s customers. It fined Zain because Zain failed to get “approval” from NATCOM for adding GST. The loophole that Zain is being punished for is because NATCOM never came out with a clear decision on what the phone companies should do about GST. Zain being the only half-decent telecom left(Tigo was the only real ethically decent one) was caught in dilemma concerning how to deal with NRA & NATCOM regulations, they would have been fined either way. Coincidentally, if the other did not raise their add GST to their price how on earth do they pay GST? Something to think about.

    Your internet being slow and unreliable in Sierra Leone is ultimately NATCOM’s fault. They have failed to allow private entities to bring undersea fibre into Sierra Leone. Internet penetration in Sierra Leone in the last three years is at 0.29%. That’s slower than Afghanistan. Beyond making available better “conditions” for NATCOM, ultimately let’s not forget NATCOM’s mandate laid down by law:

    “NATCOM is charged with the mandate to provide for the licensing and regulation of telecommunications operators, and for the promotion of universal access to basic telecommunications services; ensure fair competition among operators, protect the interest of the investors and users of telecommunication networks and services; improve the regional and global integration of Sierra Leone in telecommunications, and to provide for other related matters.”

    They have woefully failed and most unfortunately continue to fail!

  2. Some interesting comments up there. I believe on one count that NATCOM has a lot to cover with respect to regulating properly the Telecommunications industry in Mama Salone. What with the poor internet connectivity, and especially the gateway services for making international calls.

    I recall with frustration having to make calls to Ghana before 9pm otherwise the gateway is closed. And how do I know? After 9pm, while in SL, I could not make calls to Ghana. It’s funny, but frustrating and sad. And I have not started yet on the call rates!!! With credit of 5,000 units, you’d think it will last for a 3week stay …no siree!! For a country working at re-building, the standard of living is certainly high all round!

    The question I ask myself is which specific aspect of the organization of NATCOM should they start to rebuild? Is it the workforce? Is it the regulations they’ve issued that begs for clarity? What is their vision? Do they have sufficient resources to undertake their activities? It is easy to sit back and judge. Then again, should we be complacent when the quality of service as it currently is, is at best of poor quality?

    There is a lot to be done …it takes but a single step.

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