Sierra Leone hosted this year’s Commonwealth ICT Forum at the Bintumani Hotel from 31st July to 2nd August 2019 with the theme: “Broadband for Inclusive Digital Transformation”.
The event brought together government functionaries and participants from various Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, as well as telecommunication service providers to deliberate on pertinent issues relating to rural connectivity, transformation from analogue to digital, enhancing local innovation, emerging technologies, 5G deployment, youth and ICT, digital economy as well as OTTS.
The Director General of NATCOM, Maxwell Massaquoi informed his audience that through various consultations and sheer fact that this country over the years, has been treating the telecom sector seriously coupled with the fact that it has been adhering to certain international instruments that were adopted, reposed high confidence in the international ICT body to choose Sierra Leone for this year’s conference.
He added that for now telecommunication issues have taken centre stage in most international forums also maintaining that we really need to know the latest initiatives and emerging innovations, trends and how to make effective use of as well as deal with them.
Most of the participants informed this press that they are highly impressed with the way and manner the conference was organized.
The Deputy Minister of Communication from Ghana, Vincent Odotei Sowah said his country and Sierra Leone have been collaborating effectively to enhance Information, Communication and Technology. He praised NATCOM for its preparedness to respond to invitations and its eagerness to catch up with new trends.
“We must work concertedly to improve on ICT as it is the conduit for development as well as the tool used by criminals to perpetrate heinous crimes,” he said, adding that he is impressed with the venue and manner in which the conference was conducted.
The participant from Nigeria, Mohamed Babajika, Director Policy Competition and Economic Analyst, Nigeria Communications Commission, confessed that he has been attending conferences elsewhere but that this one is exceptional as it was lively especially with the way it was directed and the side attractions to make all feel comfortable. He said he is looking forward to more partnership with this country to advance ICT in Africa.
In another development, the Deputy Director General of National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Daniel B. Kaitibi, engaged some ICT delegates from all the Commonwealth ICT members on the topic: “Cyber Security and Capacity Building”.
Speaking to members of the panel which included the National Cyber Security Advisor in the Ministry of Communication from Ghana Rd. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Sitigas Rokas Information Security Advisor and International Manger, NRD CS Lithuania, Dr. Martin Koyabe, Technical Support and Consultancy (TSC) Manager Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization Kaitibi revealed that the leadership of the Ministry of Information and Communication is passionate about policy initiatives and implementation as well as the protection of data.
He said NATCOM is developing a policy geared towards combating cyber-crime which the Minister will forward the Law Officers’ Department of Sierra Leone for the finalization of the drafting of a Bill which they will send to Cabinet for deliberation and later to the House of Parliament for approval for it to become law.
He added that the Commission is aware of the use of ICT especially the internet and underscored how for the past months NATCOM has been working with internet and mobile operators to ensure that the latter embark on re-registration of SIM cards used by various subscribers across the country.
Mr. Kaitibi informed the other ICT experts from the different Commonwealth countries that NATCOM is working closely with service providers to ensure that they develop a short code which will enhance their efforts in tracking down fraudsters who are in the habit of putting fake calls to strangers to extort monies.
He said the short code will make it possible to get quick response during incidences when mobile fraud is being committed.
He dilated on various initiatives that are being rolled out to capacitate NATCOM staff which includes training sessions, workshops and short courses out of the country.