ICT The Gambia recently has registered significant progress in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This has been spearheaded by the Government in mainstreaming ICT in all public activities to enhance socio-economic development goals. In view of this, the Department of State for Communications and Information Technology (DoSCIT) has taken significant strides in creating the conducive environment for sector player to operate and communication infrastructure policy, plans and strategies. It encompasses plans of action such as the e-government and other e-strategies. The Telecommunications Bill is also being developed to be enacted as the legal framework to further strengthen the enabling regulatory environment of the sector.
This sector has witnessed the establishment of three GSM mobile operators, one fixed network operator and more than six ISPs. In August 2008, a 3G license was issued as the fourth entrant into the mobile market. The presence of four mobile operators (Africell, Comium and Gamcel, Qcell) could not have been possible without Government’s continued pursuance of its liberalisation and privatisation policies in order to attain its vision 2020, which aims at making the Gambia a private sector led and knowledge based economy. The impact of GSM in the Gambia cannot be overemphasized and is much felt in rural areas that have drastically increased mobile density to 24.5%. As at now, the mobile subscriber base is 570,000 equaling 38% of the population and is bound to increase. This figure including basic telephony, registers a total access to telecommunication services of 629,000 depicting 41.9% teledensity. The Gambia has only one fixed line operator, Gamtel with 59,000 subscribers and 12,000 of which are wireless end users.
There are eight internet service provider (ISP) licenses issued by the Department of State for Communications and Information Technology but only six are operational. This has also improved internet access and related services. Internet cafes and telecentres are booming and providing limited and affordable access to the rural area, hence the need for multi-purpose ICT centers.
Radio and Television
Two medium wave channels are utilized under the state owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) to broadcast various local radio programs and synchronize with external foreign channels for supplementary broadcasting. There are fourteen commercial FM radio licenses issued by the Department of State for Communications and Information Technology concentrated in the Greater Banjul Area, coupled with the existence of five community radio stations across the country. The National Television channel is operated by GRTS to provide country wide coverage through three TV transmitter station across the country, with 80% 0f programs produced locally, covering health, education, agriculture, sport, religion etc.
In pursuit of Government strategies, plans and policy objective, the following are areas opened for investment in the sector.
- Internet services (excluding international backbone)
- Mobile Operator services (excluding international gateway)
- Prepaid service platforms
- Cable and satellite TV broadcasting
- Access centers
- Radio stations
Although the ICT infrastructure is not wholly open for investors but proposals geared towards improving the infrastructure particularly broadband technologies for extending access are highly welcome from potential investors for consideration.