The Untold Story & Strives For Liberia’s Better Information & Telecommunications Technology (ICT) At the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications
Tremendous changes and developments have been made through the efforts of the Minister, Cllr. Cooper W. Kruah Sr. and his principal deputies over the past three years with support of the President, H.E George M. Weah in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
By Caesar Nyan Slapeh (Director for Public Affairs
Improving The ICT Sector In Line With The Pro Poor Agenda of President George M Weah
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was created by an Act of National Legislature in September 1978 to provide affordable and accessible postal and telecommunications services through the creation of an enabling environment to foster growth in the sector.
By law, the Ministry is mandated to ensure the expeditious movement of mails and formulate Postal and Telecommunications policies that are geared toward providing access to affordable and reliable postal and Information Communication Technology (ICT) services across Liberia. The Ministry provides Administrative Guidelines for Postal and Telecommunications facilities that are operated in the country to ensure compliance to acceptable standards set by Universal Postal Union (UPU) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The Ministry has worked to ensure that the Information Communications Technology (ICT) policy, which outlined Liberia’s vision to utilized Information and Communications Technology for all institutional economic growth and development, has been induced by the Cabinet and has also gotten Presidential approval.
Cataloging The Progress In ICT Sector
The Ministry has adopted the new ICT policy of 2019 to 2024 in which the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George M. Weah recognized and noted among other things that, “This National Telecommunications and ICT Policy is a strategic document that aligns our Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Millennium Development goals and the goals of the World Summit on Information Society. This Government vision is for Liberia to become a globally competitive knowledge and information society where lasting improvement in Social, economic and cultural development is achieved through the effective use of ICT”.
Also speaking about the Policy, Minister Kruah stated among other things that, “With the increasing use of electronic communication, it is essential that Liberia protects its data and cyber space from illegal, defamatory, or other abuses. This policy contains guidance or the measures that must be taken to protect Liberia’s cyberspace; the legal instrument needed to making sure that the illegal used of ICT in Liberia is checked has been drafted and awaiting final validation by stakeholders (The Cyber Security Act and Personal Data Protection Act) and that all users must have confident that our ICT system are adequately secured and all appropriate standards are met.”
How Liberia’s ICT Got on Par
It all started on November 1, 2018 when a delegation of stakeholders in the ICT sector headed by Minister Kruah attended the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai where they lobbied and participated in the voting process on behalf of the Country after Liberia has been denied voting right for over 39yrs.
He was accompanied by his Deputy Minister of Technical Service, Mr. Prosper Brown, Hon. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the then Minister of Information, Mr. Ivan G. Brown the suspended Chairman of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), and other officials to include, Mr. Israel Akinsanya LTA , Madam Maria Harrison LTA, and Mr. Zotawon D Titus of LTA.
Liberia Participation To vote Has Yield Good Result Under Minister Kruah After Past Administration Failed Over 39yrs
By voting at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, Liberia now stands a chance to benefit immensely from the union and other telecommunications actors in terms of technical and financial support.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an agency of the United Nations (UN) whose purpose is to coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world. It was originally founded in 1865 and was considered the International Telegraph Union at the time. It is the oldest existing international organization with its Head office in Geneva, Switzerland.
Voting The United States Choice At the ITU Strengthen Ties
Voting for the choice of the United States at the ITU Plenipotentiary conference placed the country in a better position. Liberia vote through Minister Kruah has solidified our ties with the United States. Mrs. Doreen Bodgan- Martin of the United States was elected to the position of Director of Telecommunications Development Bureau (BDT) at ITU.
The Minister informed Mrs. Bodgan-Martin about, the Development of the ICT sector of Liberia, partnership to develop the National communications backbone for connectivity across the country, investment in the Digital Migration Program, support to develop the National Cyber Security strategy, E-government program, assistance for staff capacity building among others.
Barely three months after his participation at the ITU conference, a delegation from ECOWAS visited the Ministry in February 2019 and discussed wide range of Cyber Security and other Telecommunications issues. The team from the Telecommunications Information Technology Commission of ECOWAS headed by its Commissioner, Dr. Zouli Bonkugou met with the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and the Senate committee on Posts and Telecommunications at the Liberian House of Senate and they discussed issues on intra roaming traffic connectivity, Cyber Security, training and ICT development.
Today, the reward of reawakening the Ministry’s international contact has brought an astonishing accomplishment to the country to have its first cyber Security forensic laboratory at the Police Academy in Paynesville through the support of ECOWAS.
Improving Steps In Posting Items Through Technology
In less than a Month, the Ministry will be on par with other countries around the world by automating her entire posting procedure. Minister Kruah has also lobbied with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the Ministry received over USD70, 000.00 worth of equipment as part of the project.
The Launched of Government Network (Govnet) Will Save Government Over USD 400,000 Anually
The Minister has placed himself into innovative programs which are exactly in line with Pillar 5.3.1 & 4 of the Pro- Poor Agenda which among other things points to E-governance and ICT to improve business processes and productivity. The Ministry’s ICT Innovation will save Government over USD 400,000 annually.
Additionally, GovNet will also help government to integrate and interface the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) with key Public Financial Management (PFM) databases that include the current project management modules, budget management among others.
This system is now playing a major role in E-governance via ICT which is enhancing tax revenue and improving tax administration, enhancing budget management and expenditure through the effective use of the IFMIS database, and supporting the National Biometric Registry among others.
The Ministry’s Innovation in Training Government PROs and ICT Practitioners
In August last year, the Ministry organized workshops through Digital Liberia and USAID to train government Public Relations officers (PRO) in the management process of government websites. The process has enable PROs to effectively informed citizens through their Ministry and Agency website about what is happening in government. The Ministry also organized a four months training for Chief Information Officers (CIO) and certificated them at the end of the process.
The Launched of the E-Liberia Portal
The Ministry also launched the e-government portal (a website that host government services online) which is a one-stop shop for all government ministries and agencies and can be assessed as (www.eliberia.gov.lr)
Fiber Optic Cable Connectivity
The expansion and roll-out of the fiber optic cable in and around Monrovia is a unique initiative which is been carried out by a company called C-Squared. The expansion of the fiber cable of recent in and around Monrovia is helping to strengthen internet connectivity and create support for more ICT base projects and programs in E-education, E-health and infrastructure. The ministry is hoping that in few months, the National Backbone project and the landing of the second underwater optic fiber marine cable will land in Buchanan. These projects are designed to secure Liberia’s connection with the rest of the world.
The Recent launched of the COVID-19 Website
In recent time, the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications in connection with the ministry of information and other relevant health authorities developed and educative health information link on the COVID-19 to provide citizens up-to-date information on the Corona virus in Liberia. The website is accessible on www.covid19liberia.gov.lr.