The Country Director of the World Bank, Mr. Henry Kerali on Friday, 24th March 2017 commissioned the state-of-the-art wifi internet facility at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology, Goderich campus, a project that was funded by the World Bank and TIWI memory Masters as the contractors.
He said the Bank has supported the reform of the regulatory environment, liberalized the international gateway but observed that the cost of internet is still high compared to other West African countries.
The country director further said the backbone of the project, the fiber optic cable, has landed successfully in the country and is working now but stressed the need to deliver the content and provide electronic libraries to all colleges to enable them connect to some of the best universities in the world.
He further informed them that one of the goals of the Bank is “shared prosperity’s the Bank does not believe in leaving countries and people behind, and cautioned the students not to misuse the content of the internet as they will be left behind and assured them of the Bank’s continued support to Sierra Leone.
The World Bank Country Manager, Parminder Brar, disclosed that he arrived in the country a year and a half ago saying that Sierra Leone has made a big improvement in ICT due to the Bank’s partnership with SALCAB, the Ministries of Information and Education and other institutions clarifying that the World Bank provides the funding while government implements the project.
He went on to inform the gathering that the project started in 2010, and the fiber optic cable landed at Lumley, describing the commissioning ceremony as “historic and important as well as a big achievement for government.
He said Sierra Leone has done extremely well to roll out the fiber optic cable to the rest of the country but cautioned the students to use the internet wisely pointing out that 40% of teachers in the country are unqualified.
The Acting Principal of the college, Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor-Morgan disclosed that the day marked an indelible print in the lives of students and the college, that the internet plays an important role in the country and commended the World Bank for funding the project that would make students to become part of the global family.
“Many students cannot afford to pay for internet service, cover long distances or spend long hours at internet cafes in town asserting that the facility is now at their doorsteps and is affordable and accessible”, she said.
She gave a brief history of the college named after Sierra Leone’s first Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai and commissioned by the then Governor General, Sir Henry Lightfoot-Boston, primarily to train teachers for primary schools, and in 1995 it was upgraded to offer degree courses for graduates to teach in senior secondary schools in Educational Administration, Guidance Counseling that every school should have as well as Measurement and Evaluation for continuous assessment, stating that the college is now a polytechnic.
The Acting Principal said the college has three campuses, Goderich, Brookfields and Congo Cross and the students population is 4,400 noting that Information Communication Technology (ICT) is now offered at Diploma level.
The Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cable Company (SALCAB), Mr. Mohamed Sheriff appealed to Sierra Leoneans to be appreciative to foreigners who are working hard to develop the country, citing the World Bank Directors, stating that Sierra Leone now has 80 gigabyte capacity to communicate with the outside world.
Mr. Mohamed Sheriff also revealed that the cost of the project is $31 million from which $21 million was used to pay for the landing of the submarine fiber optic cable and disclosed plans to connect all schools and universities in the country for which Tiwi Memory Masters won the contract, and that Milton Margai College of Education is one of the lucky college to be the first beneficiary.
He said Fourah Bay College, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Makeni, Njala University-Bo and Mokondi campuses, have also been connected.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mr. Paul Sandy said that the project is part of the West Africa Regional Infrastructure Project created through the advice of the World Bank to provide internet facilities to universities as a pilot project, adding that it has been completed in the Western Area to be rolled out in the provinces and appealed for its extension.