Members of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly Tuesday began a nationwide field visit to World Bank sponsored project sites in the country. The West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Project (WARCIP) was their first port of call.
Speaking at the site, the clerk of the Assembly, Dodou C.M. Kebbeh said World Bank has recognised Gambian lawmakers as one of the most proactive and efficienct public accounts committee in sub-Saharan Africa.
He disclosed that World Bank has 100 projects in The Gambia, noting that the two bodies are partnering in a pilot project which is expected to be expanded to other African countries should the Gambian projects be successful.
William Omoshola Joiner, project manager of WARCIP said his institution is the body that was entrusted with the implementation of the project which started in 2011. “But before WARCIP came into being this agreement to have a submarine cable landed in The Gambia was started by Gamtel but with World Bank coming in they decided to form a project implementation unit to manage the project,” he said.
He disclosed that the entire cost of the project is $35million and is entirely funded by the World Bank out of which $25 million went into making sure that the cables landed here in The Gambia. Mr. Joiner stated that the submarine cable is laid in the ocean, starting from France and would end up in South Africa.
According to him, the project development objectives of WARCIP are two folds: to ensure that The Gambia is well connected to the outside world in telecommunication; and also to make sure they try to bring down the cost of telecommunication in The Gambia.
Baboucarr Sanyang, the managing director of Gamtel said the facility was provided out of a World Bank funding on the arrival of the submarine cable into The Gambia. “This is out of a consortium of several countries especially along the West Coast on the Atlantic pioneered by France Telecom. Majority of countries that are on the Atlantic Ocean all the way to South Africa have for the first time the opportunity to be connected on a broadband network that is the fiber cable that is laid connecting countries from one country to the other,” he noted.
According to him, this opportunity wasn’t accorded to majority of the countries that are connected today. He said The Gambia was filling international tariff to satellite connection but few years later it discovered that the development of the country needs ICT as a foundation stone to be able to improve on communication correspondences which were limited to facts and limited internet connection.
by Aji Fatou Faal- Sonko