The Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure yesterday organized a press conference at GRTS Building in Kanifing as the Gambia should host the launching of Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable to transform and advance telecommunication to a high-speed broadband fibre optic technology on 19th December.
"The ACE consortium, which is led by France Telecom-Orange, is made up of 16 members from Africa and Europe. The Gambia was choosen to host the launching after many competitions. We have a grant from World Bank that has facilitated for our membership", asserted Mr. Lamin Camara, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure.
Deputy PS Camara explained at the press conference explained the signing of agreement between the government and privately owned companies in the country. He revealed that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable system is a transportation system in telecommunications. He further revealed that the submarine cable system has a greater capacity than the current system used in the country.
The Deputy PS of Information and Communication Ministry revealed the contribution of US$25 million towards the project. He said 51percent of the contribution was done by the private sector as 49 percent was paid by the government. He explained that the government has paid the amount through a grant from the World Bank.
"We were getting our source at SONATEL in Senegal but with the launching of the (ACE) submarine cable system, we will get it directly from the main source because we have the ownership", said Mr. Malang A. Bass, Director of International Operations at GAMTEL.
Mr. Bass informed the press that the submarine cable system is for both the voice and data communications. He asserted that the internet facilities would become faster as people would access the broadband fibre optic like the developed countries. He said national and international calls would become clearer at a cheaper rate.
"Whether you are rich or poor you will have the accessibility and affordability", he disclosed.
Mr. Papa Njie, the proprietor of Unique Solutions said the launching of the submarine cable system would create more jobs in the country. He said it would attract more foreign investors into the country as well. He explained the concerns of foreign investors in the telecommunication facilities.
"Any country that has broadband facilities will have its GDP grow", he pointed out.
However, Mr. Almamy Gassama of Gamcel GSM Company explained that the Gambia was selected to host the launching because of its infrastructural system. He mentioned about the transport facilities and hotel industries as well. He also mentioned the involvement of the government as another factor.
At this juncture, Deputy PS Camara declined to answer a question as to whether the Gamtel stands a chance to compete with local and international investors. Instead, he attempted the question on environmental assessment which he said was done. He did not give any results of the assessment but referred to a particular website for details.
Meanwhile, the press conference was attended by all stakeholders in the country. The media houses in country including the print and electronic media were represented.