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The Gambia receives U$30m to boost telecoms, energy

Gambia , 01 Jun 2020
Gambia has secured a US$30-million grant from the World Bank to bolster telecommunications in the West African country.
Gambia has secured a US$30-million grant from the World Bank to bolster telecommunications in the West African country.

The Gambia has secured a US$30-million development policy grant from the World Bank intended for the development of the country’s telecommunications and energy industries.

According to the international financial institution, the fund will enable the country’s government improve debt and public investment management, financial viability and service delivery within both industries.

It is also intended to enhance the transparency and governance framework of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

World Bank representative Elene Imnadzee described the grant as the “first in a series of two programmatic Development Policy Operations (supporting) The Gambia’s efforts to undertake fundamental reforms to improve fiscal management for better public service delivery”.

The organisation added that the Development Policy Operations will ensure public investment projects are evaluated as per National Development Plan priorities and support the adoption of a new procurement bill to eliminate the use of single source procurement and tighten the emergency clause for its use.

“The financing will also help enhance the financial and operational performance of the energy utility in order to provide cheaper, more reliable and cleaner energy. In addition, it will support the ring-fencing of the telecom infrastructure and restructuring of the SOEs in that sector to strengthen the digital economy,” it added.

Stakeholders in The Gambia’s telecommunications ecosystem want additional investment in order to improve the quality of services and expand network coverage.

Government-owned telcos Gamcel and Gamtel have urged authorities to up their investment in order to ensure survival.

In June 2019 Gamcel General Manager Elizabeth Johnson requested help from the government.

Addressing the Committee on Public Enterprises within Gambia’s National Assembly, Johnson said: "While many telecom operators have already deployed 3G and 4G throughout the country, Gamcel currently operates a more 2G than 3G telecom network. Gamcel's revenue continues to fall. And the survival of the company that competes with Africell, Comium and Qcell is seriously endangered.”

Shola Mahoney, chairman of the board of directors of Gamcel/Gamtel echoed the sentiment.

Johnson also lamented the government’s decision to terminate the contract with MGI, the service provider responsible for managing the International Voice Gateway Cable, and said this affected the company’s billing system.

Mehwish Ashraf, World Bank Country Economist and co-Task Team Leader added: “This operation will support the government in strengthening fiscal transparency and reducing fiscal risks and promote a governance framework to ensure long-term sustainability of the SOE sector.”

The government of The Gambia has welcomed the decision of the World Bank Board of Executive Directors to approve the grant.

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