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Something fishy about LIBTELCO proposed purchase of Novafone

"LIBTELCO cannot choose to invest in a failing mobile phone company for $30 million dollars while neglecting to invest in its basic infrastructure, a fiber distribution network for Monrovia the financial and political capitol of Liberia"

By Ciata Victor

All around the city of Monrovia you see these large billboards with messages encouraging Monrovians to "Stop Corruption", and right under some of these billboards along Tubman Boulevard, are ducts belonging to LIBTELCO a company that is begging for an investigation.

In 2013 under the management of Ben Wolo, the Government of Liberia told LIBTELCO managing director and board that it did not have $7.5 Million Dollars to fund the construction of a Metropolitan Fiber Optic Network, which if funded would have been the starting investment in a fiber distribution network for Liberia.

Fast-forward to 2014, Ben Wolo is replaced with Sebastian Muah ushered in by his longtime buddy outgoing Minister of Finance Amara Konneh, who soon after Sebastian appointment to LIBTELCO, approves a $7 million dollars budget for the company now being managed by his boy Sebastian, when less then a year ago, he couldn't find $7.5 million dollars for the distribution network.

With his newly acquired $7 million dollars, Sebastian set out to build a duct system along Tubman Boulevard, that strangely, is using concrete tops to cover the manholes instead of sealing the manholes with metal lockable manhole covers. (Go figure!)

Fast-forward to 2015, Sebastian Muah the Managing Director of LIBTELCO dropped cellular voice service from LIBTELCO's offerings, claiming LIBTELCO could not manage voice and that voice service was not profitable, leaving itself and its customers scrambling to find new service providers amongst the company competitors.

Fast-forward to 2016, it is revealed in a Frontpage Africa article, that LIBTELCO Managing Director Sebastian Muah plans to purchase NOVAFONE, the floundering mobile phone company for some $30 Million Dollars, which begs the question, if the government of Liberia does not have $7.5 million dollars to invest in LIBTELCO's basic infrastructure, a distribution network, how can they justify $30 million dollars to purchase the failing Novafone? And why would LIBTELCO a government entity that is not profitable propose to purchase a private company that is also not profitable? What are the perceived benefits for LIBTELCO and Liberia?

Today Matilda Parker, T. Nelson Williams and Miatta Beslow are facing criminal charges for corruption as charged by the state. If the criminal court is good for some present and former members of government, then it should also be good for everyone involved in this purchase of Novafone by LIBTELCO which translates into a massive fleecing of Liberia, by people who have been charged with simply managing the company.

Does Liberia need LIBTELCO to buy the failing cellular company Novafone, when LIBTELCO could not manage it's own cellular service? No!

Does Liberia need to construct a fiber distribution network to provide the government and people of Liberia secure, realiable, affordable voice, video and data services that will give them access to e-Education, e-Health, improved communication, e-government, Research opportunities, and the other benfits the technology offers? Yes!

The ACE Cable landed in 2011 and went online in January 2013. Three years after the cable went live, many people living, working and doing business in and around the city of Monrovia continue to pay high connection charges for dismal Internet connection speeds.

I am not sure what the people in government who are approving this purchase of Novafone by LIBTELCO are thinking, maybe they think we are so involved with the outsourcing of Liberia’s primary education system that no one would notice this blatant attempt to fleece Liberia.  Well they are wrong.

The purchase of Novafone by LIBTELCO is not in the interest of improving ICT in Liberia. It is a bad investment for LIBTELCO and a bad deal for the Liberian people.

If we could bring the Fiber Cable all the way from France, 17,000 miles under the Atlantic Ocean to Monrovia, Liberia, don't you think we can build an underground network cable system around Monrovia?

If LIBTELCO and the Government of Liberia have access to 30 million Dollars to purchase the failing Novafone, they have the money needed to build a fiber distribution network, starting with the construction of a Metropolitan Network, but with no political will and greater love for self then country, it is easier wasting money building substandard ducts and putting money in the owners of Novafone hands, then it is to do what is right for the development of Liberia.

LACC has been encouraging us to report corruption, therefore after being inspired by LACC's billboards and on behalf of the lovely child that is telling me his future is in our hands and asking us to stop destroying his future which is also mine future, I am asking LACC to please investigate the purchase of Novafone by LIBTELCO.

Something isn't right, LIBTELCO as a government entity, cannot choose to invest in a private failing mobile phone company for $30 million dollars while neglecting to invest at minimum in its basic infrastructure, a fiber distribution network for Monrovia the financial and political capitol of Liberia.

May God bless Mama Liberia our shared heritage.

Pictures of the substandard duct system currently being constructed by LIBTELCO wasting valuable resources that could be applied to building ducts that meet international apporved standards. Someone has to stop this waste of resources. This is not how ducts and manholes are built.

Pictures of an unsecured, below standard duct system consisting of several manholes being constructed by LIBTELCO's current managing director Sebastian Muah, along Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor and Congo Town in Monrovia where the manholes fill up with water when it rains because they are not sealed and collects trash and dirt the rest of the time because many of them lie open with broken concrete manhole covers.

This preconstructed manhole has been sitting above ground for almost a year along Tubman Boulevard at the Old Road, Catholic Junction in Sinkor while the manhole below ground lies open and exposed

Opps: The concrete manhole cover has fallen into this manhole exposing the cable system inside the manhole to the elements and to tampering

Trial and error. This picture shows the contractors don't know what they are doing. First they build 2 concrete slabs to work as the manhole cover, when they realized that the covers were breaking and falling into the manhole, they went back and constructed 1 large concrete slab to cover the manhole.

I wonder if they ever heard of metal lockable manhole covers. Oh I forgot, metal lockable manhole covers are expensive and purchasing them for use in the duct system will eat into their profit margin.

Like I said before, LIBTELCO is begging for an investigation.