The first phase of the ongoing installation of fiber optic cable under the Economic Community of West African States Regional Backbone Infrastructure and e-Governance Programme (ECOWAN) took a major leap in Sierra Leone last Friday with the blowing of the first cable into the pipe.
The process is technically called cable jetting and it is basically the installation of the cables in the ducts in the pipes leading to the intended destination.
The Islamic Development Bank funded ECOWAN project is the brainchild of the regional bloc, ECOWAS, and aims at improving communication within the sub region.
Reached at various summits in Abuja and Accra, the agreement is geared towards interconnecting 15 West African capitals through fiber connectivity so that internet speed will be increased and the use of communication affordable.
For the last several months work had been going on for the laying of the underground pipes which will link Sierra Leone to the rest of the region through Gendema on the Liberia border to Gbalamuya on the Guinea border.
Last week`s occasion, which took place in Masiaka, officially saw the infrastructure connected to the National Operation Centre at Jui.
The event was witnessed by Minister of Information and Communications Alhaji Alpha Kanu and his deputy Mr Theo Nicol.
Kanu reiterated government`s commitment to ensuring the timely completion of the project on the Sierra Leone side. He said the project will enhance communication and further facilitate the effective use of the internet, thus making it very easy for researchers to carry out their work.
The plan includes an extension of the fibre cable to major learning institutions like colleges and universities across the country, in a bid to enhance research work for students and academics.
It principally is intended to place the country in tune with the modern trend of technology, vis-a-vis e-learning, e-governance, e-commerce, e-procurement, among others.
ECOWAN Project Coordinator, Sahr Momodu Sewah, promised the completion of the laying of the cables within few months.
But the process has encountered a number of difficulties, including encroachers who occupy the right of way by erecting structures.
The government has had to compensate people whose structures would be destroyed to create space for the pipes.
Yet, Mr Sewah revealed, even after receiving compensation, some people were still reluctant to give up the space they occupy.
© Politico 29/01/15