The Gambian leader has described the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) project as a 'dream come true' saying it is the type of partnership the country needs.
His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh made this remark on Thursday afternoon while hosting the top management of the ACE project at the presidency, led by officials from the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure. "This partnership is very important," he said, adding that initiatives like this would go a long way in solving problems. He also described it as a wonderful initiative and a very important project that Gambia is proud of.
President Jammeh used the meeting to speak extensively on the importance of the project and its potency, saying it would undoubtedly ease the communication difficulties the country used to encounter especially while abroad. He further highlighted the direct benefits and contributions of the project to the telecommunication industry in the country.
"I always ask the Gamtel people, when are we going to have something like this and their response has always been that the best way for achieving that is for us to have our own landing point. This is what we have today and I think Gambians should be very proud because it is one of the rare African countries were you can go to any corner of the country and you would be able to communicate. This is my objective, because I want to make sure that everybody in this country benefit," he said.
He further saluted Senegal for their help throughout saying "they were carrying us on their back and now is time for us to walk on our own. But of course we have a lot of collaboration also with Sonatel. We work very close with them but if I had to thank any more group that will be France Telecom under Alcatel and thanks to the government and people of France.
The Gambia used to be ranked 8th in the whole world in telecommunication and without France Telecom and Alcatel, I don't think The Gambia would reach that level. When you look at the Tele-density, I think Gambians should be very proud because it is one of the rare African countries where you can go to any corner of the country and you would be able to communicate. I want to make sure that whatever the people in the capital enjoy let those in the last hamlet also enjoy it, that is why it has always been a challenge".
President Jammeh also stressed that if we all work together, this world can be a very big world, saying it is big enough for us to live together peacefully and is small enough for us also to live together out of poverty. He then welcomed the ACE project launched in the country saying his government and the Gambian people will do their best to assist any country that is not connected.
President Jammeh commended all those behind the successful launching of the project. "We want to thank France also for coming with this very bold initiative. It shows how working together can make a difference for millions of lives. If it was not ACE, I don't know when we were going to be connected because getting just an email communication is a nightmare. They are unlike others who only care for countries they colonised and not others.
France has always been very accommodating to Africa and the continent has benefitted a lot from France Telecoms. From Alcatel and I think up to now 98% of the equipment with Gamtel is Alcatel equipment. So, we want to thank you very much for coming to The Gambia. This is a partnership that we are proud of and wish you all the best," he concluded.
The ministers of Tourism and Culture, Basic and Secondary Education, Higher Education Research Science and Technology and the Attorney General and minister for Justice, who also spoke at the meeting, made illustrated contributions that underlined the huge potency of the project on their ministries.
Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, the minister of Tourism and Culture, attributed the successful launching of the ACE project to the Gambian leader's handsome leadership and dynamism. According to her, the qualitativeness of these features in the Gambian leader made the word 'impossible' to no longer exist. "We are very much pleased with the ACE because it is going to place us in the international scene," she said.
The Basic and Secondary Education minister, Fatou Lamin Faye, was also optimistic that the ACE project would add significantly to the learning process of the country's future leaders.
The minister for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, Dr Mamadou Tangara, said that with ACE project, his Ministry is the most fortunate , adding that it will bridge the digital divide.
Other speakers at the meeting included Babucarr Sanyang, managing director of Gamtel; and Yves Ruggeri, president of the ACE Consortium Management Committee. The meeting was moderated by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Nancy Niang.