House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Celebrates LIBTELCO’s Eligibility to Operate as GSM Company, Says Foreign Companies’ Control of Liberia’s Communication Network Poses Threats To National Security
Monrovia – Moments following the certification of Libtelco, the government’s telecommunications company, to operate like any other Mobile Network Operators in the country, the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa (District #2, Grand Kru County) has called on Libtelco to move as fast as possible to begin the process of operating.
According to Cllr. Koffa, the decision to grant Libtelco an MNO license will not only spur economic growth but will also solve a major security breach that have existed over the years.
“I am glad that Libtelco has a license and I will encourage Libtelco to move as fast as possible,” he said, while speaking to a team of reporters in Monrovia on Thursday.
“It is in the interest of Liberia, a small economy with a high GSM penetration. It is in our interest to have our own. Actually having foreign companies controlling our communication network is a dangerous national security tool. We see it recently when they tried to put the people against the government.
The licensing of Libtelco, which has been focused recently on the distribution of fiber optic internet service to homes, schools and offices, means it can now join the competition with the two service providers – Orange Liberia and Lonestar Cell MTN by providing mobile voice service and mobile data service.
It also comes at a time the LTA and the two GSM companies were locked in stalemate over the implementation of the LTA’s surcharges’ regulation which led to sharp increment of voice and data charges by both GSM Companies.
Following ultimatum, warnings and meetings by the LTA to the Mobile Network Operators to revert to status quo, the deadlock continues until President George Weah intervened.
In a statement, the LTA said it has suspended the implementation of the surcharges leading to GSM Companies going back to previous charges on voice and data services.
Both Orange Liberia and Lonestar Cell MTN also announced that they would begin making full restitution to subscribers who had purchased bundles at surcharge tariffs.
Delving into the saga, Rep. Koffa said the suspension of the surcharges was not a victory for the companies, as being reportedly claimed by the company. He said the Mobile Network Operators’ actions were illegal and intended to turn the citizens against the government.
“They capitulated to the demand of the LTA to go back to status quo ante. It is not a victory for the GSM companies as they are trying to make it,” he said.
“They said we move back and restore minutes. And there have been no concession on the part of the Government. So, all the nonsense that they are spewing out is only to save face from an illegal act. They have stopped the illegal charges, they have rolled back the minutes and they will submit to the jurisdiction of the LTA.”
It can be recalled that in August of this year, the Government passed in to law an Act amending certain portions of the Telecommunications Act of 2007 to increase the functions of Libtelco, to among other things, function as a National Mobile Operator.
The Act is entitled “An Act to Amend Provisions of the Amending Section 12 (2), (3), (4), and (5) and Section 13 (1) & (2) Relating To Licensed Service Providers and to Expand the Functions of the National Operator in Schedule A of the Act Relating to Functions and Structure of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation.”
The Act emanated from the House of Representatives and was sponsored by Rep. Isaac Blalu Roland (District #3, Maryland County), Chairman of the House Committee on Post and Telecommunication.
Plenary’s decision to passed it before the Senate’s concurrence and President’s Weah’s signature, was based on the recommendation from the joint Committee on Post and Telecommunications, Ways Means and Finance and Judiciary; stating that the amendment will enable LIBTELCO to provide world-class telecommunications products and services to meet its customers’ needs and to make fitting contributions to the national budget for execution and implementation of the government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD).