Sierra Leone Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 25 Jan 2024 Update History

Report Status: Current

Report Pages: 105

Sierra Leone completes second phase of its national fibre network

Sierra Leone’s telecom sector is gradually emerging from a long period of war and political chaos. Whereas international lenders a decade ago baulked at providing funds for national projects, on the assumption that monies would be embezzled, the World Bank recently approved a $50 million grant to extend fibre infrastructure. The terrestrial fibre backbone had been started as late as 2019, while the cable link to neighbouring Guinea was not completed until February 2020.

Considerable progress is now being made, with Sierra Leone being a partner in the Amilcar Cabral submarine cable which will connect several coastal countries in the region. In addition, the government is implementing its five-year National Digital Transformation Project which is aimed at widening the reach of internet services, improving digital skills, and extending the provision of government digital services. Technical support is being provided by Smart Africa, which opened a Digital Academy in Freetown in early 2023, as well as by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, which has started a three-year program to help Sierra Leone adopt digital technologies and bring the populace into the digital age.

Given the poor state of the fixed-line infrastructure, mobile services have been the main driver in the telecom sector. In September 2023, Orange Sierra Leone launched a 5G pilot service covering the central business district of Freetown. The service is being undertaken in the context of the country’s National Innovation and Digitalisation Strategy, in which 5G is a pillar for extending access to the internet.

Key developments:

  • Africell announces plan to build a new backbone network to meet data traffic demand, secures loan to expand services to rural areas.
  • Bank of Sierra Leone launches the National Payment Switch, a platform designed to facilitate transactions between m-money wallets, banks, and businesses.
  • Starlink secures licence to operate satellite broadband services in Sierra Leone.
  • Telcos negotiate price rises for voice and data services.
  • Smart Africa Alliance opens an ICT and digital research academy in Sierra Leone.
  • Sierra Leone joins other regional countries to build the Amilcar Cabral submarine cable.
  • Orange Sierra Leone starts 5G trials.
  • World Bank provides $50 million grant to enable Sierra Leone to implement the five-year National Digital Transformation Project, aimed at widening the reach of internet services, improving digital skills, and extending the provision of government digital services.
  • Report update includes operator data to Q3 2023, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel), Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Comium, Africell (Lintel), Millicom (Tigo), Cellcom, LapGreen (Ambitel, GreenN), Access Point Africa, Afcom, African Information Technology Holdings (AITH), Onlime (LimeLine).

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