Newspaper reported yesterday that Gambia’s GSM Operator Gamcel has raised a red
flag calling for a bail out on its current serious and precarious situation or
risk stopping operation.
The paper reported that the country’s own GSM operator’s General Manager Elizabeth Johnson appeared before the National Assembly Public Enterprises Committee (PEC) while presenting their 2017 activity report and financial statement alongside its sister institution, Gamtel.
She said Gamcel is already limited in its network coverage and any additional loss of coverage could necessitate a halt in its operation as a service provider. “Gamcel needs a bail out to continue to serve as a service provider. It needs a bail out through capital injection from government or help to secure concessionary financing to quickly upgrade and stabilise its infrastructure. I believe Gamcel has great potential as a national service provider that needs to be harnessed,” she added.
She further said Gamcel continues to be at a cross-road and needs urgent intervention on the serious challenges it is grappling with.
Operating in a very stiff competitive and dynamic industry where technology trend is constantly changing to meet the needs of the people, the company’s manager said for the company to continue as a service provider, it needs capital investment to expand and modernize its infrastructure to effectively operate in the market.
Ms. Johnson said the company has serious financial constraints and therefore it is unable to expand network coverage from internally generated revenue alone. “The billing system has adverse limitations and continues to limit the company’s ability to maximize revenue generation as it can only provide basic voice services. The dynamics of the industry has gone beyond voice services,” she declared.
She noted that the company has and continues to suffer high staff attrition rate due to unattractive remuneration compared to the private sector, saying it would be impossible to achieve anything with poor and dilapidated infrastructure, an obsolete network and unstable billing system in place.
The lack of a robust billing system that can provide proper billing and value added services, she went on, has caused a loss of customers to the competition and the company’s network coverage is partially located around the country with a considerable part of the network being 2G. “The network is currently at a stage where if any of the sides goes down, it cannot be restored and all customers in the affected sides will be without communication services. A breakdown will not only cause a significant loss of revenue but a national blackout for communication for that specific region,” she noted.