By Musa Kamara
The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) which was established by an Act of Parliament in 2006 for the regulation of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the country has on Monday 16 December 2019 and in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) launched Sierra Leone’s “Free Regional Roaming Services,” whereby, making the country counts in such ICT sector as amongst other 7 West African countries.
In her keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara said that the launch marks a milestone of development wherein, ordinary Sierra Leoneans would have to enjoy free roaming services and as she put it, “citizens would have to roam like home.”
She went on to outlined that such roaming services are operational within 8 West African nations namely, Guinea, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin and now Sierra Leone wherein, mobile operators would provide customers with objective, transparent and non-discriminatory conditions in all voice calls made, data, Short Message Services (SMS), in all telecoms, be it in one’s home country or other nations within the 8 ECOWAS States.
She recalled by saying that as of December 2017, Sierra Leone as an ECOWAS member State signed up to the Regional Free Roaming Regulation in a summit held in Abuja, Nigeria that involves the commitment of ECOWAS Council of Ministers thereby, creating not only the much needed free roaming, but also an ICT market within and amongst ECOWAS States.”
In his statement earlier on, the Director General of NATCOM, Maxwell Massaquoi said that the journey to such a landmark launch has not been easy, which journey he said date back to 2016 and which has finally come to pass under the leadership of the New Direction Government of President Bio.
Antigou Cherif who is the Director General of the Guinea Telecoms Regulator, ARPT Guinea, assured Sierra Leoneans that they would not pay for free roaming services when they travel to the other 7 ECOWAS States and he also said that Sierra Leone should be ready to embrace an era of “ICT Developments.”
“With ICT, we can achieve one unify Africa network,” he assured.
He however, urged consumers to effectively make use of the service and ensure that feedback is given on the price associated with roaming.
In summary, the free roaming service has to do with receiving 300 minutes of calls which are totally free in the visiting country of which there would be no need to purchase a mobile sim, but however, the one calling has to pay the charges and which charges are locally regulated in a format of “Roam like Home, Roam like Local.”