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President Koroma handing over AWOL’s award to Sierratel CEO Adel TaherThe Telecommunications sector represents a central component in the development of any country. This is especially so in the case of a country like Sierra Leone. This sector however over the last fifteen years has being dominated by foreign players or operators primarily due to the inability of the local incumbent operator Sierratel to compete. The landline which was the foundation of the company’s business steadily eroded and disappeared and the company was unable to make the transition into mobile telephony services due to its inability to again compete with the foreign players in the Telecoms market.
It was against this background that the government under the leadership of His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the National Commission of Privatization (NCP) took the bold decision to save this proud and significantly important company from certain collapse. Though a difficult decision at the time and with all sorts of insinuations associated with the decision, the Government and NCP boldly decided to bring in an International management company to effectively take over the management of Sierratel and transform it into a relevant and viable Telecoms operator in Sierra Leone.
The management company chosen by the government was the Management Development International Company (MDIC) with extensive knowledge and proven track record in managing and operating successful Telecoms companies in Africa, Middle East and Europe. MDIC team headed by the CEO Mr. Adel Taher effectively took over the management from June, 2012.
The government’s remit to MDIC was simple –
*Arrest and reverse the decline of Sierratel
*Restore market relevance and value to the company.
Over the last three years, the public has been witnessing a steady and visible improvement in Sierratel’s overall market presence in terms of innovative data and voice products, strong and attractive offers, new business lines, increased network coverage nationwide and overall brand visibility. Sierratel is no longer the dead company it was perceived to be and today all across the country, use of its products and services are common place.
With strong support from both the Government and the Board of Directors, the company has been successful in rolling out and implementing major investments in its network infrastructure and expansion namely – Approx $40 million in a fully digitized landline network nationwide, Approximately $6 million on expanding and upgrading its CDMA mobile network nationwide to complement its existing infrastructure. Also it was introduced internal governance systems such as ERP and CRM systems and other “Over the Top” (OTT) applications and portals such as Web self care and advanced call center as a layer to further improve efficiency and offer enhanced customer service.
As a further reinforcement of the growing profile and renewed confidence of Sierratel under MDIC management, the company launched its new and upgraded landline service in September during the height of the Ebola epidemic. At a time when most businesses were running away, scaling down their operations or simply put on hold new initiatives, Sierratel took the bold and historic decision to launch this huge investment and flagship service. In partnership with the Sierratel board ably led by its Chairlady Mrs Alice Onomake, Sierratel launched its services initially in Freetown and has also rolled out the landline service to Makeni with plans to extend to Kono, Kenema and Bo. Present as the launch in Makeni was the Minister of Information and Communication, The Chairman of NCP Dr Michael Kargbo and the Chairman of NATCOM. The presence of these distinguished personalities at the first provincial launch also clearly indicates the growing recognition of Sierratel’s increasing relevance and importance in the telecommunication market in the country.
Sierratel today in June 2015 is strongly positioned to become one of the leading Telecommunication service provider in the country especially as it is the only operator that can offer both Mobile and Fixed Voice and Internet services. Sierratel can therefore be considered now as a provider of a comprehensive telecommunications solutions to corporate entities, government institutions, International Organisations, SME’s and consumers offering the following –
*Mobile Telephony Services in Freetown and the provinces providing a more stable and reliable network with some of the lowest call rates to call within the country as well as overseas
*Mobile Data or Internet services nationwide offering the most value for money experience to connect using its innovative MIFI product, USB Modem Stick and Internet Phone.
*Landline Telephone and Internet services connecting homes and offices to very fast and reliable internet services as well. The landline also enables Sierratel to also offer Fax services to a select group of customers who will require this service.
*Dedicated Wholesale Bandwidth to major institutions both in the private and public sectors.
The above is not to say that all is well. There is still room for improvement on its network especially its data speeds which we understand are being done currently by the company. Also it needs to expand to the remaining districts in the provinces and also improve on the availability of its recharge nationwide.
However not withstanding these challenges, it’s very clear to all that there has been a significant and real transformation at Sierratel and today more and more companies, businesses and individuals are converting over to Sierratel services not simply because the company is Sierra Leonean but primarily because Sierratel is increasingly demonstrating its capability to meet their telecommunication needs in a reliable and cost effective manner.
We all must acknowledge and thank his Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, His Government especially the Hon Minister of Information and Communication, The Chairman of NCP Dr Michael Kargbo and the staff of NCP, The Sierratel Board Chairlady Mrs Alice Onomake and her entire Board and the staff of Sierratel. The introduction of MDIC under the leadership of Mr Adel Taher as the Managing Director of Sierratel and his MDIC team has certainly being a game changer for Sierratel and it is the hope of all Sierra Leoneans that the company’s fortunes will continue to rise.
Monday June 15, 2015

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