Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel) is up and running again after it fell from grace to grass due to nepotism and politics.
The merger of Sierra Leone External Telecommunications (SLET) and Sierra Leone National Telecommunications (SLNTC) which was a merger of convenience to suit the government in 1995, started out as Sierra Leone Telecommunications, a company that was doomed to fail due to several problems that were never solved nor was there any attempt to solve.
Anyway, the first Managing Director was Frank Jarrett and he did well to manage the company even with the cracks that were present. He was pressured out of office and the ring leader was the late Hon. Osman Kamara accusing Jarrett of wasting the company’s money on the exiled SLPP government in 1997/8. The late Osman Kamara aided top management then successfully kicked out Frank Jarrett and even former President Kabbah never defended Jarrett, instead left him out to dry. Frank Jarrett left and Tumoe took over.
Today Jarrett is still enjoying his healthy life and has been changing jobs, because what he did was legal as it was the international community and the entire Sierra Leone population that rejected AFRC, which means the Kabbah led government was still the legitimate government. What happened to Osman Kamara and Alpha Sesay? Osman Kamara faded out of active life and reportedly died unheralded. Let us learn from these examples because our future is in the hands of the Almighty.
Tumoe’s reign was short, as he too was reportedly harassed by old SLET clique until he too called it quits. Until that time Sierratel was doing fine as they were pushing for success, although there were signs of cracks in the system because the deputy who was Alpha Sesay was very ambitious. Tumoe left and he too had several good jobs including working for NATCOM.
Finally, Alpha Sesay who took over after fending off the former bosses, eventually had the opportunity to prove himself.
When he took over the company it was evident that Sierratel was heading to the grave. One reason was that this was a man who never trusted anybody within his office, the management and the entire office. The cracks that were present since the inception of the company began to show and were getting bigger and bigger.
The once viable and envied Sierratel became the worst office to work for in Sierra Leone. Workers started going months without pay. Those who retire will have to wait for years to receive their benefits. The building became a pigs sty. Sierratel workers went on strike for over two weeks, instead of Kabbah listening to the workers, he sent the OSDs to beat them up and some were arrested and taken to court. The then Management saw it as an opportunity to revenge on some workers sacking them without pay and turning Sierratel upside down.
The company became bankrupt to the point that the company’s doctors refused to work with the company, pharmacies blacklisted them and the banks also refused to cash or accept cheques from Sierratel. It was until they gave them the gateway, which was the only means of revenue that kept their head above water.
Come 2007, there was a change of government and the matter became worse because the new leader was Alpha Sesay’s brother-in-law. He continued in office cementing his grip and the company became an eye sore. Sierratel was a dead man working until Huawei came into the system to start the CDMA network. Alpha Sesay was still there even when the Indians came to do the land line. He was given extensions twice as if there was nobody else qualified to run the company.
We think we are supernatural beings and even God can’t control us. We don’t have control over our tomorrow even if we sit and plan for the future. He reached the retirement age and was given contracts twice because according to those who have the power in their hands he was indispensable.
Eventually he had to pack out but was heading to be the boss of Sierra Cables, even after presiding over the demise of the once enviable parastatal, but as I said, God is not man. He has the final say. Today after all he has done where he is now?
Sierratel is still operating because there will always be someone to continue the job. One smart move that the government made eventually was to contract a professional company called Management & Development International Company (MDIC) headed by Adel Daher. The management contract has been awarded for a period of three years, following the launch on an international tender process.
The group today has brought Sierratel back to life and today the workers can breathe a sigh of relief and the respect they had lost for years is back. The only CDMA network in the country has become the cheapest and most reliable.
I want to commend MDIC for the good job done especially repairing the pigs sty left behind by Alpha Sesay at Wallace Johnson Street. I hope that the once prestigious office will become the symbol of communication in the country.
Today Sierratel are offering many services including quality and cheap internet. The landline is now a reality as the cables is being mounted that will also carry the Fibre Optic for an affordable and accessible internet.
I want to advise this management that as they are repairing the head office at Wallace Johnson Street, it is imperative that they make sure they clear all those shacks on the road leading to the office, so that the environment of the office would be clean and beautiful.
Make sure you repair the road and give it streetlights to beautify the area so that people will know that the dead man is alive again and kicking. We want to see a viable Sierratel controlling and dominating the telecommunications world in Sierra Leone.
I would implore the government to allow these professionals to stabilise this company before they think of any nepotism in the company, because we know that relatives to those in power are in the company filling managerial positions.
Sierratel needs to do more promotions and expand their sales network so as to bring more subscribers into their fold so we all can enjoy a cheap and quality network. Also they must try and expand their operations all over the country because with the Fibre Optics soon to be operational countrywide, we would want to make use of cheap and quality communication whenever we travel around the country.
Finally, the once rotten and useless Sierratel is alive again with a bang and they are ready to take their rightful place in the country. I wish them all the best and hope MDIC will continue to raise the profile of the company and please make sure that Wallace Johnson Street is cleared from those foot soldiers messing and causing havoc in the area.
For those who do not know about MDIC, let me give you a run down about them. MDIC is a professional company that has enormous experience in telecommunications. They are working in four countries Vivacell MTS in Armenia, Vivacell South Sudan, Karabakh Telecom in Lebanon and Sierratel in Sierra Leone.
Founded late 2005 by Hussein Rifaï, former Chairman & General Manager of LibanCell and headquartered in Beirut, Management and Development International Company (MDIC) is focused on the provisioning of: Operations & Management of Mobile, Fixed or Data Communication Service Providers (CSP) and Advisory & Consulting Services for Mobile, Fixed and Data CSP’s
Since 2009, MDIC established another foothold in West Africa, Sierra Leone through successive consultancy missions performed for Sierratel, gaining further recognition on the international scene. MDIC’s relation with Sierratel started within the scope of performing a feasibility study for assessing the ACE project, an undersea fibre optics cable connecting West Africa to Europe, and the returns which could be derived from such connection. MDIC performed a full market study, developed a business plan and confirmed the importance of investing in such project which will greatly improve Sierra Leone’s connectivity with the world.
As a second step, MDIC negotiated, on behalf of Sierratel, the membership of Sierra Leone in the ACE Consortium & actively participated in the technical, commercial and business meetings regrouping all members. MDIC was able to promote the interests of small operators which do not have the bigger operators’ volumes associated with much larger traffic and subscriber base served.
Based on Sierratel increased confidence in MDIC capabilities, Sierratel entrusted MDIC with the analysis of all offers related to the modernization of Sierratel infrastructure and subsequently to the award of the $30 million contract to the selected bidder. MDIC negotiated the contractual terms with the winner and is currently in charge of supervising the implementation of such project in Sierra Leone and providing the technical assistance required in this respect
Bravo MDIC! May you continue your success story. Sierratel – Truly ours Truly yours.
Tuesday October 22, 2013