With the first fiber-optic cable in Sierra Leone slated to land on Sept. 23, preparations to deploy new infrastructure are under way, including the launch of the West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Programme (WARCIP).

WARCIP, formally launched Friday by President Ernest Koroma, will support the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable project, scheduled to link 23 African countries. The connectivity agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and the ACE consortium was signed last year.

The landing of the submarine cable will not only make communications cheaper and affordable, it will have a special impact on the lives of youths in the Lumley community where the Fiber Optic Landing Station is located, according to Koroma. Koroma, who spoke Friday in Lumley at a launch ceremony, urged universities to introduce telecom courses into their curriculums.

The president also disclosed that he had signed a loan agreement with the Islamic Development Bank to develop the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) regional backbone infrastructure and e-governance project ECOWAN, set to cost $28 million within the next three years.

"The ECOWAN project will complement the WARCIP and allow our people along the borders of Guinea and Liberia to benefit from an efficient and affordable communication system as a landmark solution," he said, adding that the ECOWAN project would provide a platform for the exchange of information to enhance productivity and promote regional integration.

The project coordinator, Julius Kamara, said that the fiber-optic project has three components: support connectivity and ensure open access and the liberalization of the gateway.