The legislators of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly have acknowledged that bureaucratic principles are making it tougher for The Gambia Cellular GSM Company, (Gamcel) to stiffly compete against other GSM operators in the country.
In an intense scrutiny on Tuesday, lawmakers further acknowledged that Gamcel was on the verge of insolvency, as they called for what they refer to as ‘holistic approach’ to arrest the situation.
The Majority Leader and Member for Serrekunda East, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, pointed that Gamcel is the darling of The Gambia and that it’s an institution that all must be proud of.
The Majority Leader further acknowledged that he could not understand why Gamcel is not up to the level of other GSM providers, pointing out that a holistic approach was needed to address their constraints.
“What are the challenges that can transform Gamtel/Gancel,” he inquired. He admitted that a lot of things have been said about Gamcel, which in his view is making people to move from Gamcel to other GSM providers. “So we want to know your challenges so that we can take a holistic approach,” he said.
He assured that government is willing to let Gamcel prosper in the business, but would also put in mechanisms to ensure accountability. He added that Gamcel needs capital investment to help compete in business. “If we want Gamtel to survive we must come out with bold steps to bail them out.”
Muhammed Magassy, the NAM for Basse, suggested for both Gamtel and Gamcel to operate independently.
For Hon. Saine of Banjul Central, Gamcel is the problem and not Gamtel. In his view, Gamcel is on the verge of insolvency and wanted to know what is responsible for that.
The Subject Matter Specialist. T. S. A. Njie, said borrowing would not be a solution for Gamcel. He admitted that as a cellular company, Gamcel is supposed to compete sternly with other cellular companies, but that it is subjected to government regulations and control.
He pointed out that for the national touch-bearer like Gamcel to relegate in the midst of such highly technological age, some of their challenges could be administrative bottlenecks.
The Managing Director of Gamtel/Gamcel, Baboucarr Sanyang, said that before the advent of Africell, Gamtel had the most trained work force, but many of their staff left as a result of bigger offers. The lack of liberalisation, he said, could be another factor that denigrates their competition in the GSM services.
He specifically described the procurement as great hindrance to Gamcel. He indicated that a minimum timeframe to open a tender is 6 months, which he said, was difficult for them in this competitive market, as customers service is what is driving the technology.
“The technology we develop today is dictated by customers in the service,” he said. “Government is our biggest customer today but also our biggest debtor.”
Sanyang informed lawmakers that the project for improving their 3G countrywide has been surveyed. “We are anticipating that arrangements that have been done with the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet will be materialised.
by Bekai Njie