By Mabinty M. Kamara
Officials of the National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM) have called on the Bank of Sierra Leone to bring out a stronger legislative framework on mobile money service to complement the rapid growth of these services and curb cybercrime.
Abdul Ben Foday, Director of Corporate Affairs, while acknowledging the growing recognition of the importance of mobile phones and mobile money by tele-communication companies, which he said have brought unprecedented benefits by improving livelihoods and becoming a tool to mobilize and encourage savings for the unbanked populace in Sierra Leone, it has also occasioned issues that need attention.
“The financial services activities of telecos are beyond the purview of NATCOM, but falls within the mandate of the Bank of Sierra Leone. We are looking forward to imploring the Bank of Sierra Leone to come up with a stronger legislative framework than what it currently has,” he said.
He added that the role of the bank of Sierra Leone is pivotal in ensuring that mobile money services are regulated, supervised for the smooth operations of the financial sector.
“In view of this, our vigilance has increased, consumer awareness and consumer public dialogue is on an upward trajectory. The rapid growth of mobile money transactions should [warrant] the urgency for an effective and robust regulatory and legislative framework.”
The spokesman for the Bank of Sierra Leone, Berestford Taylor, did not respond to Politico when contacted via calls and a text message.
NATCOM, as a regulatory body, is responsible to monitor media and telecommunication technical capacity and functions in Sierra Leone. Their role includes granting licenses for the operations of communications systems and services, ensuring fair competition among operators, establish and monitor quality of service indicators for operators and service providers.
Dr. Abdul Kamara, Manager of Information Cyber Security, noted that cyber security issues are borderless due to the borderless nature of the cyber space itself. He said they have been working with Police to tackle emerging threats.
“In the recent past, we have been able to make some gains in the fight against cybercrimes and fraud in partnership and collaboration with the Sierra Leone Police in the termination of Sim Box fraud,” he stated.
Sim Box Fraud is one of the most sophisticated cybercrimes in the country. However, simpler cybercrimes like scams involving people luring others to send them mobile money by impersonation, have been on the increase.
Mustapha Sesay is a victim of mobile money fraud. He said he recently lost Le5million to a scammer who claimed he was the Secretary to the President of Sierra Leone.
Sesay believes mobile companies are not doing enough to tackle the problem.
“I think the mobile companies are in connivance with these rogues, otherwise there is no way the same number would be used to scam other people even when the first incident was reported to the Police. The same number that was used to scam me was also used to scam another Le8 million (from someone else). This could not have happened if these mobile companies are serious about curbing the criminal activities of these criminals,” he said.
Police already have a cybercrime unit which they have used in the past to conduct raids and arrest cyber criminals.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Kabba Lavalie, explained in a Police press briefing this week that they currently have people in custody who impersonated a government minister, so they could carry out a scam.
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