In 2011, the Gambia Telecommunication Company Limited (Gamtel) made total revenue of D1.450 billion, but despite this, the company continues to operate on outdated equipments which threatens its ability to compete in the telecoms industry. The company also made financial loses of D63 million.
Gamtel, one time second best telecoms services provider in Africa, is currently faced with many challenges, some of which are blamed on an aging network infrastructure and the use of obsolete equipments.
As Gamtel presented its annual activity report and financial statement of 2011 to the National Assembly, in Banjul, for scrutiny on Tuesday, the Lawmakers raised eyebrow, expressing disappointment that a whole national telecoms company is operating on obsolete equipments, when its competitors in the highly competitive market are largely operating on modern and cost effective equipments.
However, the Managing Director of Gamtel, Mr. Baboucarr Sanyang, told the National Assembly Members that the company is embarking on some capital intensive projects aimed at upgrading, expanding and introducing new telecoms services in response to the growing challenges.
One of Gamtel’s main challenges is the threat posed by its competitors and an increasing demand of customers’ requirements for more efficient service delivery.
“It therefore became more apparent that the company must invest in new technologies and upgrades some of the existing equipments, increase in service portfolio, particularly on data service,” Mr. Sanyang said.
Adding to Gamtel’s problem of operating on outdated equipments is the financial challenges that the company is also grappling with.
The company registered D63 million loses from its operation in 2011, despite the huge revenue base.
Hon. Alhagie Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North, noted that Gamtel’s financial mess is partly caused by the huge debt that the government owed the company.
Hon. Lamin K. Jammeh, Member for Iliassa district observe that the company’s balance sheet is “not pleasant” as its account is in liquidation.
“What plans do you have to avoid liquidation,” he quizzed. In response Mr. Muhammad Jammeh, Board Chairperson of Gamtel blamed the impending liquidation on arrears owed to Gamtel by some institutions. He said: “We are trying to see how best we can engage these institutions for repayments of the monies that they owe to Gamtel.”
Gamtel’s Chief Finance Officer Mr. Banding Sillah said the company registered D1.450 billion revenue in 2011. This represents an increase of D0.005 billion, from that of 2010 when it registered D1.395 billion revenue.
He said the increase in revenue is attributed to the increase in international calls (13 million), interconnection calls (32 million), and data revenue (42 million).
Mr Sillah said the company incurred a material cost of D345 million in 2011 which shows an increase of D277 million compared to the 2010 figures of D68 million. This is associated with an increase in the operations and maintenance of the international gateway.
The Senior Compliance Officer at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), gave Gamtel thumbs up for obeying the GPPA Act throughout last year. Mr. Lamin Barrow said the company must be commended for that.
“To fully comply with PAC/PEC and GPPA Act is a credit to Gamtel. I think we should address the challenges they have in the competitive market and we should also help them attain their vision,” added Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority Leader of the National Assembly and Member of Serrekunda East district. “There is need for capital investment in order for Gamtel to do its work properly.”
“We are proud of working with you people and some institutions should emulate your work,” said the Speaker, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, who announced that the joint scrutinising committees of public accounts and enterprises (PAC/PEC) “have unanimously adopted Gamtel’s activity report and financial statement of 2011.”