has Ben Wolo done at LIBTELCO?
Ben Wolo, Managing Director - LIBTELCO
Ciata Victor - Webmaster TLC Africa Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
February 14, 2012
I was asked by a young man "What has Ben
Wolo done at LIBTELCO?"
wasn't surprised at the question. As a Technologist
who has made advertising a business, I know that
even if you have the best product in the entire
world and no one knows about it, it means very
little. Ben Wolo is one of those rare and good
products that Liberia has but few people know
of his potential or understand his value to LIBTELCO.
an insider who has worked closely with Ben at
LIBTELCO for over 5 years, and on the ACE Fiber
Optic Project that is ongoing, I would like to
answer this question, not only for the young man
who asked it, but also for anyone else who is
interested in knowing.
Telecom from A Dormant State
2007, when Ben Wolo took over as Managing Director
of Telecom (LTC), the company was in a dormant
state, with over 900 employees, Pension and Benefits
to settle. The staff was large and unproductive,
with no knowledge in CDMA Technology and forgotten
knowledge in the operations and running of a technology
company. Telecom assets were in ruins and most
of its former sites across the country laid to
waste or had been taken over by other GSM companies
that were now operating in Liberia.
a State Owned Entity, the corporation was restricted
from securing a loan to finance its reopening,
because the country was under HIPC guidelines.
With funding provided by the National Legislature,
most of which had to go to settling legacy employees
issues, in April 2009, Ben Wolo with a skeleton
staff, managed to open the doors of the once dormant
Telecom as LIBTELCO, the first CDMA-EVDO Technology
company to operate in Liberia. This accomplishment
on it's own should be congratulated -reviving
the once dormant Telecom in a competitive GSM
market, introducing new technology, with limited
funding was no small effort. This operation was
led and managed by Ben Wolo. With little money
to accomplish the technical and administrative
goals, there was absolutely no resource left for
a publicity campaign. Liberians heard of the opening
of LIBTELCO in a press statement in some of the
local newspapers and on TLC Africa website.
a Microwave Network
Ben Wolo took over as Managing Director of LIBTELCO,
the entire duct system was clogged with years
of sand, silt, and garbage. The ducts had been
damaged in several places and all the legacy land-lines
copper cables that made up the network, had been
looted and sold as scrap years before. Manhole
covers were long gone and the duct entrances lie
open for more water, slit and garbage to go in
to. With limited funding, Microwave was a first
step for providing services. Microwave towers
were erected and equipped to strategically provide
service in areas of high demand. Today LIBTELCO's
coverage area extends from Brewerville to Firestone
and to Fendall.
the assistance of his Director of Security and
Asset Management, Vernon Scott, the cleaning of
the ducts started and today, due to the efforts
of Ben Wolo and his still dedicated skeleton staff,
the entire Duct system has been repaired, cleared,
cleaned and entrances sealed with new lockable
Ben Wolo leadership, the duct system that runs
from Freeport, Monrovia, through central Monrovia
to Catholic Junction is now being equipped with
Fiber Optic cable in anticipation of the ACE Fiber
Optic cable that is schedule to go online in mid
to late 2012.
the leadership of Ben Wolo, a new Fiber Optic
Backbone is being planned for Liberia. If the
16 Million Dollars needed to fund the first phase
can be secured, the full version will be deployed
within 12 to 24 months after the Fiber Optic cable
comes online. The conservative plan based on finding
funding is to create a fiber optic network around
Monrovia, from Freeport to Red Light via Somalia
Drive and from Freeport to Red Light via central
Monrovia, Sinkor, Congo Town and Paynesville that
will support true Broadband connectivity within
Liberia for the first time .
addition to the Fiber Optic Cable Ring around
Monrovia, the ambitious plan in Phase 1 is to
extend Microwave Fiber Optic links along Liberia's
3 major Highways that lead outside the city including
heavily populated areas like Kakata and Buchanan.
Fiber Optics to Liberia
Liberian institutions were involved in the process
of bringing the first Fiber Optic Cable to Liberia,
but none more involved than LIBTELCO. This initial
vision and tenacity to see this mammoth task to
fruition was that of Ben Wolo; notwithstanding,
the story of bringing Fiber Optic to Liberia cannot
be told without the mentioning of several names,
including Ciata Victor and LIBTELCO Board of Directors;
Angelique Weeks and the Board of Commissioners
at the LTA; Anthony B. McCritty, Finance Ministry
lead, and Daniel Brewer, ACE Fiber Optic Project
Manager for the Construction phase.
assisted with securing funding from the World
Bank, others with approval and permits, but the
entire effort from identifying the ACE Fiber Optic
Project, to getting Liberia into the Africa Coast
to Europe (ACE) Consortium, to identifying funding
to buy into the project was led by Ben Wolo and
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Ministry of State
who asked the Ministry of Finance to approach
the World Bank to secure funding for project;
mitigated problems within the Cable Consortium
of Liberia and supported LIBTELCO efforts in bringing
the technology to Liberia.
Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Minister
Augustine Ngafuan, Deputy Minister Tarnue Mawolo,
the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs
under the leadership of Amara Konneh, and the
Ministry of Post and Telecommunications under
the leadership of then Minister Jeremiah Sulunteh
and current Minister Dr. Frederick Nokeh, all
worked closely with the world bank to secure funding
Board of Commissioners of the LTA were tasked
by the World Bank with the formation of a Special
Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to own the cable landing
in partnership with LIBTELCO. It was from this
venture that Lonestar, Cellcom and the Government
of Liberia bought into the SPV, forming the Cable
Consortium of Liberia (CCL) the group that now
own the ACE Cable Landing in Liberia.
was LIBTELCO Managing Director Ben Wolo who first
identified that a new Fiber Optic Cable System
was being built along the Coast of West Africa.
It was Ben Wolo who said he wanted this for Liberia.
It was Ben Wolo who approached ACE on determining
the criteria for Membership and it was Ben Wolo
who approached the LTA seeking $40,000.00 to secure
a seat for Liberia at the ACE Table.
was Ben Wolo who identified that although LIBTELCO
was restricted from borrowing money under HIPC
in 2009, he could still secure the $25 Million
US Dollars needed to fund a full landing station
in Liberia through a grant from the World Bank.
It was Ben Wolo who initiated discussions with
the World Bank to secure funding for LIBTELCO
and when the bank refused, it was Ben Wolo and
LIBTELCO Board of Directors that turned to President
Sirleaf, bringing the project for the first time
to her attention and seeking her assistance in
finding funding for the project.
Wolo did not only lead the initial efforts, he
is also leading the efforts for the construction
of the project in Liberia. Again with limited
resources and many challenges to joggle, Ben Wolo
focuses on obtaining the objectives and not on
publicity. On November 3, 2011, the ACE Fiber
Optic cable landed on Liberia's shores. If it
happened in Liberia, it started with one man's
determination, supported by his board to acquire
this technology for LIBTELCO.
Wolo continues to shy away from publicity and
focus on his technical objectives, but with the
arrival of the ACE Cable under his leadership
and direction, Ben Wolo deserves not just publicity
but congratulations as well. There is much for
Ben and LIBTELCO to be proud of.
limited resources, Ben has worked hard and accomplished
a lot. With the vision of taking LIBTELCO into
the digital age and making it a viable Telecommunications
Company with advance up-to date technology, and
with versatile / open system architecture, providing
comprehensive services nationally, Ben Wolo feels
sometimes it is too early for publicity. There
is so much work to do and with intense focus on
accomplishing goals he postpones publicity. On
the verge of bringing the Fiber system online
in Liberia, delivery is the objective, not publicity,
Ben believes that certain things must be in place
under Ben Wolo's leadership continues to find
it's nitch in Liberia highly competitive telecommunications
market, and although the company doesn't do much
publicity it is really making strides and Ben
Wolo continues to quietly work at attaining LIBTELCO's
goals of making the Corporation viable.
the young man who asked the question "What
has Ben Wolo done at LIBTELCO?" I'll tell
you, "A LOT! He is acquiring State-of-the-art
Technology for Liberia."
know that if Ben was seeking fame, glory and wealth,
he would not have accepted President Sirleaf's
request to rebuild LIBTELCO. Government job in
postwar Liberia is no place to get rich, however,
postwar Liberia is an engineer's playground and
rebuilding completely damaged and looted infrastructure
and systems, after 25 years of neglect, 15 years
of war, with limited resources in a highly competitive
telecommunications market is no easy task but
LIBTELCO is well on its way, and like Rome it
can be built, and it will be built, but not in
As a trained and accomplished engineer, Ben Wolo
options are many, but he accepted the task in
Liberia and is fulfilling the commitment. Due
to his tenacity and the support of LIBTELCO's
Board of Directors, and the government of Liberia,
fiber optics is coming to Liberia at least 7 years
earlier then most people predicated. Although
Ben Wolo is extremely media shy and a very private
person, all Liberians should be extremely proud
of his accomplishments at LIBTELCO and in Liberia.
"Congratulations Ben Wolo - Fiber Optics
is today a reality, not only for LIBTELCO but
for all Liberians."
you know these FACTS?
leads the construction of the Fiber Optic
System in Liberia.
minimum amount paid to any LIBTELCO employee,
including drivers and janitors is $150.00
(USD) a month. Other organizations pay in
the range of $75 (USD) a month for similar
Managing Director drives his own car and receives
no other benefits from the corporation than
his salary. While other agencies have cars
and other benefits provided by their organizations.
Managing Director has not received a raise
in 5 years.
Managing Director Ben Wolo identified and
got Liberia into the Africa Coast to Europe
Wolo LIBTELCO Managing Director is signatory
to the ACE Construction & Maintenance
Agreement (C&MA) signed in Paris on June
5, 2010. Ben signed on behalf of the Cable
Consortium of Liberia (CCL) ensuring the Cable
Landing in Liberia.