SALCAB increases internet penetration in Salone
Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) has disclosed that there has been a sharp increase in internet penetration in the country from only six Gigabytes in 2018 to 50 Gigabytes.
According to Ishmael Kebbay Jr., SALCAB, a wholesale bandwidth provider to the National Telecommunications Commission’s licensed operators in Sierra Leone, is part of a Consortium called Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) comprising 25 countries.
He stated that SALCAB, as a technological arm of the government, have met all its financial obligations to the ACE Consortium.
“We have been able to take fiber from our landing site in Aberdeen to Kailahun, Pujehun, Kabala, and many other provincial towns. We have also provided internet to schools that are 30 kilometers away from our Add and Drop Multiplex (ADM) sites, through our ‘One Access Project’. Our aim is to connect internet services to 500 schools by 2023,” he said.
According to the SALCAB Managing Director, during this COVID-19 period, his institution has doubled capacity to licensed operators and internet providers (IPs).
This provision, he noted, will enable operators to maintain and improve on their services to end users without increasing the prices for data bundles.
He said plans are underway for SALCAB to start installing internet routers in school buses so as to enable the students to stay connected to do research or get educational materials online during their commute to and from school.
“Online content will be restricted for students. Everything they will have access to online while on the bus will be on academia or things relating to education. We have 50 school buses that were bought by the government and all of them will be connected with internet. This is an extension of ‘One Access Project’ and a support to President Bio’s flagship Free Quality School Education (FQSE),” he said.
The SALCAB boss said President Bio’s government inherited a SALCAB that was having a bumpy ride but they did an in-depth analysis and thereby restructured the technical team which was a booster to the achievements they have gained.
“We inherited a SALCAB that had foreign nationals who were consultants for the technical department and were paid US$41,000 a month. We wanted to support Sierra Leone’s Local Content Policy. So, we trained local technical staff and we employed them, thereby saving cost for the government on consultancy,” he said.
As a technological arm of government, SALCAB looked out for a way to boost indigenous young innovators, and subsequently implemented a successful ‘SALCAB Tech-Startup Challenge’.
Ishmael Kebbay Jr. said among the participants for ‘Season one’, there were three winners and each of them were given a cash prize of fifty million Leones (Le50m) and went through a three-month intense incubation program to further develop their business models and make their businesses investment ready.
“One of them manufactured a Fuel-less generator. Another manufactured a recycling machine and the third one manufactured a local content shopping App which is being used currently to shop online. We were able to unearth the numerous talents we have in Sierra Leone through the ‘SALCAB Tech-Startup Challenge’. Plans are underway to commence the ‘Season II’ of that innovative challenge,” he stated.
He said SALCAB needs an unwavering support from its direct supervisory ministry which is the Ministry of Information and Communications, whilst calling on all Sierra Leoneans to trust his institution for all technological provisions in the country.
“We will keep on calibrating our prices so as to make our internet affordable for everyone in Sierra Leone irrespective of one’s background, region, tribe or political affiliations,” he said.