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Will Gamtel/Gamcel Regain its Lost Glory?

Dec 2, 2008, 4:36 AM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

Ever since the Government of The Gambia terminated the partnership agreement between Gamtel/Gamcel the country's telecommunications and cellular companies respectively and Spectrum company, a Lebanese-owned company which bought 50 percent shares of both companies, concerns have been rife as to the circumstances surrounding the operations of both companies.

The move, which was termed to be judicious, even if the immediate and actual motive is yet unclear, is believed by economic analysts to be perhaps one of the most telling signs of the failure of the attempts so far made towards the divestiture of Gambian Public Enterprises.

However, one thing that has been in the minds of most Gambians is, can Gamtel really mark a difference? Can there really be a change in Gamtel? Is it true that Gambians can now manage their own Gamtel and Gamcel? Is it true that Gambians know their values and resources and is it true that Gambians learn their lessons of taking care of what belongs to them?

Well, the answer, for Hon Fatim Badjie-Janneh, Secretary of State for Communications, Information and Information Technology, is yes.

Secy Fatim Badjie-Janneh, who presided over the inauguration of a new interim Board of Directors of Gamtel/Gamcel yesterday, said, "Yes we do have new and old members who have spent years with the company who want a change in Gamtel and Gamcel.

"We want to move forward, we want to bring back the legacy, the glory that Gamtel and Gamcel have. It was one of the most liquidified companies at the time, second to none in the whole of Africa. We lost this and now we want to regain this lost glory."

The Board includes, Mr. Katim Touray, former Managing Director of Gamtel as Chairman, Mr. Mustapha Njie (TAF) as Vice Chairman, Mr. Muhammed Jammeh of the University of The Gambia, Lawyer Cherno Marenah of the Attorney General's Chamber, Mr. Foday Ceesay, Acting CEO of Gamtel/Gamcel, Mr. Ebou Ceesay, Acting Chief Technical Officer of Gamtel and Mr. Banding Sillah, Acting Chief Finance Officer of Gamtel, Permanent Secretary Finance and Permanent secretary DOSCIT.

As part of the inauguration, the Secretary of State for Communications gave a PowerPoint presentation on a proposed strategic plan on key issues aimed at revamping Gamtel/Gamcel.

The plan highlighted issues relating to the disposal of Gamcel of about 80% while government retains only 20%, repurchasing of shares of Spectrum company and the need for a landing point for the country.

It also deals with issues relating to the need for government to maintain the monopoly of the International gateway.

The Communications and Information Technology Secy said the new interim management has a huge task ahead of them and great expectations.

She highlighted some of the challenges that lie ahead of Gamtel and Gamcel. These, she said, are issues ranging from the major restructuring of Gamtel (redundancy plan), appointment of an effective management team, competitive tender of Gamtel and infrastructure building including a landing point.

"The first thing that government, through DOSCIT, expects is for them to deliver and to also prioritize the projects that will help build the infrastructure and help provide accessible, affordable and also available services to the Gambians," she said.

According to Secy Badjie-Janneh, this is their greatest task. "They should become an interim management that take informed decisions and that they should be co-operative and ready to restructure Gamtel, identify key elements, prioritize projects and also be ready to give value services that Gambians deserved, " she noted.

She also tasked the new management to understand that they are no more trying to get back to the old Gamtel. "You are here to bring back growth in the sector and contribute in a way that will bring back the past glory of Gamtel".

In his acknowledgement of the new task, Mr. Katim Touray assured the government of The Gambia, through DOSCIT, that they will live up to expectations. "I have no doubt that the challenges to the telecommunications sector are enormous but with a visionary approach and a constructive discourse and the commitment to nation building, we will be able to develop new strategies and save the future of Gamtel as an essential and critical service provider in the economy", he said.