The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) ,the statutory institution charged with the responsibility to regulate the telecommunications sector in the country must be in the position to resist political pressure, which it is presently facing, to determine the award of a contract for the management of the country’s International Gateway.
NATCOM, as an autonomous institution, backed with national and international instruments should be given the unfettered latitude to do their work without any hindrance, interference and high handed political pressure. In short, its independence must be respected.
It is but advisable for President Bio to ensure that the Management of NATCOM be given free hand to do their work diligently without fear or favour. However, the current state of affairs at NATCOM, if not well addressed will bring the Commission and by extension the country into disrepute simply as a result of unwarranted political pressure and interference all in the name of advancing personal interests and self-aggrandisement.
Sierra Leone as a nation needs vibrant institutions and leaders that are ready to sacrifice for the common good and development of the nation.
If news making the rounds about plans already hatched by certain political big guns to award the contract for the management of the international gateway to a particular company is anything to go by, then the Government must do a rethink and allow the NATCOM Management to do their work.
Times SL Newspaper has reliably learnt that three companies have already bid for the national gateway contract and these are Bradcorp Global Development Group, N-Soft Group and PCCW Global. It was further understood that the three companies were reported to have showcased their qualifications and expertise in managing international gateways though one among them is said to be new in the business as its registration certificate attests or proves.
They are reported to have made known and given their offers and experiences in the transmission and content of delivery networks.
However, documents submitted revealed that the three companies namely...PCCW Global, Bradcord and N-Soft each presented their offer on the documents submitted. The bid documents revealed that PCCW Global presented an offer of US 36 Million dollars whilst Bradcord presented US 22 Million dollars and N-Soft presented US 15 Million dollars which are amounts to be generated annually if awarded the contract. The offers by the three companies are presently before NATCOM the institution that has the mandate to look out for the most responsive and competent bidder.
It will interest readers to know that certain individuals who have shown special interests in the award of the contract are hell bent to land the contract at their doorsteps. Their desperation have for now put the process on hold thereby leaving the country’s telecommunications managers in a confused state.
Very recently, the Director General of NATCOM, Mr. Maxell Massaquoi was suspended by the Board of the institution on the instructions of the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray, who according to a leaked e-mail had wanted the DG to award the international gateway contract to an American company of his choice. The NATCOM DG was reported to have tread cautiously in doing his work a reason why Parliament intervened and reinstated the NATCOM DG to his position.
What is more interesting is the fact that all bidding documents now before NATCOM contain clearly the qualifications, expertise and experience of all the companies bidding for the contract.
From an inside source, Bradcorp was only registered on 1st March 2019 with a staff strength of 15 people. In their proposal, the company stated that they are well known, referencing their present contract in Rwanda and Ghana whereas google search engine revealed a company registering under the name of Global Voice as a gateway monitor in Ghana and Rwanda for over ten years.
According to documents submitted by PCCW Global Digital Solution, they clearly manifest how the company was registered in 2009 and that managing the International Transmission and Content Delivery Networks forms part of their functions.
With Sierra Leone’s ailing economy, the country could derive much needed revenue from the Gateway contract if it is done in a transparent and accountable manner.
The tussle as to who should be awarded the contract has left much to be desired as that is all the more reason why the bidding process must be done transparently and it is prudent to search online as to which company is doing what and where.
Sierra Leone currently finds itself in a difficult situation as key players continue to advance personal interests rather than the nation’s interest. What is happening around the gateway contract is a clear manifestation that Sierra Leone still has a long way to go when it comes to the country’s interest as against personal aggrandizement.
With biding documents in the possession of the National Telecommunications Commission, Sierra Leone could miss out a huge revenue from the gateway if companies bidding to monitor the gateway are not selected based on their competence and experience.
It is also worthy of note to know that mobile companies operating in this country are generating huge amount of profits but only meagre amounts are going to the Government.
Source: The Times SL Newspaper