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New Information and Communication Bill Enacted

Apr 8, 2009, 6:24 AM

As part of its first meeting in the 2009 legislative year, members of the National Assembly on Monday 6th April, enacted the Information and Communications Bill tabled before parliament by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Marie Saine-Firdaus.

The bill, which provides the proper and necessary legislative framework to adequately cater for the liberalisation process and technological changes in the industry as well as to enhance full participation and competition in the ICT sector, now repeals the Telephony Act and amends the Telegraphy Stations Act.

In moving the motion, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice said the existing Telegraphy and Wireless Act that the Department of State for Communication, Information and Information Technology continues to rely on, is outdated and inadequate to address the challenges faced by the sector in this dynamic ICT industry. Having the regulatory body, she added, is not enough unless supported by the legal framework to enable it function effectively.

"It is believed that the bill will create a level playing field that promotes equity, fairness and certainty, promote investment in the sector and encourage roll out of services to undeserved and deprived areas of the country. This will further improve PURA to safeguard consumer interest against any unfair treatment from operators or service providers", she told members of the National Assembly.

According to the Justice minister, the primary object of the bill is to create and provide policy making and regulatory framework for the Gambia Information and Communication sector and all matters related thereto and for that purpose and without detracting from the generality of the foregoing. "It specifically seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of the National Information and Communications policy as may from time to time be modified and amended.

"Ensure that services are provided to persons able to meet the financial and technical obligations in relation to those services; promote universal access to information and communication services for all persons in The Gambia to the extent that it is reasonably practicable to provide such access on the principles of affordability, accessibility and availability", she said.

She further noted that the bill among other things, seeks to promote the information and communication sectors in The Gambia by encouraging economically efficient investment in and use of infrastructure to provide information and communication services. "It also seeks to encourage local and foreign investment in the Gambia information and communication sectors and the introduction of innovative services and practices in the industry in accordance with international best practices and trends", she concluded.