Sierra Leone makes its presence felt at Commonwealth ICT Forum 2019

Abdul Malik Bangura: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 October 2019:

Sidie Mohamed Tunis, the Leader of Government Business in the Sierra Leone House of Parliament, last Monday 30th September 2019, spoke at the Commonwealth ICT and Telecommunications Forum 2019, which is taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The forum is precursor to the 59th Council Meeting of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, which will be held from 4th to 5th October 2019, and is the premier ICT conference of the Commonwealth, bringing together senior policymakers, regulators and industry leaders from across the Commonwealth and beyond to examine the most topical issues in the ICT sectors. The discussions focus on policy, regulation, technologies, operations, investment and multilateral cooperation.

Sidie Tunis MP (Photo), who spoke extensively on the theme: “Toward a digital Commonwealth for all” was joined on the panel discussion by several eminent government officials from around the world, including: Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service and Communications, Republic of Fiji and Chair of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation; Mustafa Jabbar, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Division, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Norah Lute Munsu, Member of Parliament Republic of Namibia; and Peter Blaker, Head of Global Internet Governance, Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sports, United Kingdom.

Explaining the strives made so far by Sierra Leone towards the enhancement of digitalization in the Commonwealth region, Tunis said that the government of Sierra Leone launched the Free Quality Education (FQE) Programme over a year ago, with the aim of providing education for all pupils in public schools across the country.

He said, therefore, building on that, the government is trying to ensure that learning institutions get free internet facilities. He commended SALCAB for the launching and installation of internet connection in several schools across the country.

The FQE Programme he told the audience, resonates with the digitalization of the Commonwealth as it can only be achieved if internet services are accessible in schools.

Mr Tunis also spoke about the importance of data protection. He said, the Commonwealth is saying that data of citizens must be protected, but forget the fact that not all members of the Commonwealth have the same capacity and capability to protect citizens’ date.

He said for instance, one cannot compare date protection plans in Sierra Leone to that of the UK. However, he said for all nations to achieve this, we must first of all work together with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, which can then capacitate the respective national regulatory bodies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) of Sierra Leone.

The Commonwealth ICT and Telecommunications Forum 2019, will discuss broadband planning for digital transformation, the changing nature of universal service funds, over-the-top operators, the impact of net neutrality regulations, cyber security, general data protection regulation, blockchain and global opportunities.

The conference will help build networks with international stakeholders, policymakers, regulators and private sector, to discuss the future of mobile technologies and applications, assess the latest funding and investment opportunities in ICTs across the commonwealth, and learn how to implement effective regulatory tools and policies.

NATCOM Chairman – Mohamed Sheriff, the Deputy Director General of NATCOM – Daniel B. Kaitibi and the Opposition Whip in the House of Parliament – Mr. Hassan Sesay MP, are also representing Sierra Leone at the Commonwealth ICT and Telecommunications Forum 2019.

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