Sierra Leone's ICT Policy on Course

The Sierra Leonean chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC) is spearheading an effort to create a comprehensive national information and communication technology policy for the country.

ISOC Sierra Leone, which is comprised mainly of IT experts in the country, believes that the more there is a formal IT sector, the more reforms would be achieved in pursuit of national development.

Having met with President Ernest Bai Koroma in January, the group succeeded in convincing the government of the policy's significance. The president suggested that a task force be set up that would report its plans back to him.

The ICT task force -- made up mostly of ISOC members -- has started work, and plans are afoot to organize an exhibition that will precede the introduction of the policy. The information minister on Monday confirmed reports that the government is putting together a national ICT policy to grow the sector.

In a phone conversation, Minister I.B. Kargbo said: “It is true that there is an ICT task force in place. It was set up for the development of a national policy that would set the pace for the growth of ICT in the country.”

According to Evelyn Lewis, who is CEO of SBTS Group (SL), president of the Sierra Leone ICT Companies Association (SLICTA) and an ISOC member, there are many potential uses of IT. These include tourism, fighting corruption and agricultural development.

“We also need these policies to attract investors into the country. It will guarantee their security and sustaining their profit-making venture. Through this policy, we’ll be able to inculcate other companies and government organizations,” he said.

It has been a while since compiling a national ICT policy has been in the news, but little progress had been made.

“We took it upon ourselves to get the policy in place for meaningful national development. The task force has a mandate because it is backed by the government,” Lewis said.

As for when the policy will come out, I. B. Kargbo said he can’t say, but the task force should be given ample time to do its job. Lewis said it is likely to be out before the end of the year. “I’m hoping it would be a Christmas present for the nation,” he said.

Apart from experts from IT firms, some other members of the task force are the UNDP and ILO representatives.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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