Gambia’s government issues fifth mobile operator licence
The Gambian government has issued a fifth mobile network operator licence to locally-owned Giraffe Telecom.
The telco will compete with Africell, Qcell, Gamcel and Comium Mobile for a share of the country’s mobile telecommunications market.
Officials believe increased competition will improve services and reduce the cost of communications for the country’s population of almost three million.
Gambia’s Minster of Information and Communication Ebrima Sillah confirmed the government’s decision and said it was based on several factors including operational level and regulatory compliance.
Sillah said between 60% and 70% of the company’s shares is owned by locals and this was a mitigating factor behind the decision.
He added that some months ago, Gambia’s telecommunications industry regulator, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), investigated the use of spectrum and discovered that almost 75% of the entire spectrum of the country is in the hands of two operators (Africell and Qcell) and that, at times, the spectrum is not being used.
The objective of the investigation was to ensure that operators use spectrum paid for and anything remaining should be returned back to the State.
“I can confirm that we issued a fifth mobile phone licence in this country and it’s all about necessity. Of course there is space for a fifth operator and it’s good for the Gambian customers. Having a new telecom company will make others to start looking over their back and then see what this new player is doing to compete in the market and competition is good for the Gambian people. I see no reason why we should not empower Gambians to set up businesses in the GSM mobile sector for the money to remain in the country,” said Sillah.
It is unclear as to how much the new operator will invest or when it will launch operations.
The Minister said only that Giraffe Telecom has a window to test and deploy equipment and then operate.