By Sailu Bah
The Director General of the Gambia Submarine Cable Company, Lamin Jabbi, has revealed that only 14% of the Gambian population has access to internet and which, he said, is very low.He said this in his presentation at a one day forum to validate the draft report on the establishment of a National ICT Agency which was organized by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure (MOICI) on the 27 November, 2014 at the Ocean Bay hotel resort at Cape Point.
Officials from the ministry, internet service providers, GSM operators as well as other stakeholders validated the report.
The Director General of the Gambia Submarine Cable Company, who was the ICT consultant that drafted the report, said the level of ICT in the country is very low and needs to be worked on to enhance economic growth and development.
Mr. Jabbi said the UN 2014 Report on the Gambia’s global E-Government ranking is 167 out of 186 countries. This, he said, is very low, adding that the Gambia’s average which is 0.2285 in terms of Information Communication Technology is less than the global average.
“The Gambia’s global competitiveness ranking is 125 out of 144 and it scores 3.5 out of 7 as ranking in terms of ease of doing business. In order words the country stands at 159 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of starting a business as per global-competitiveness report 2014-2015,” said the Gambia Submarine Cable Company DG.
He said the government has a key role to play in enhancing access to ICT, but it is also a collective responsibility on all to make sure that ICT is enhanced in the country.
Mr. Jabbi underscored the importance of ensuring that internet access has increased up to standard, as ICT helps in reducing cost, time and resources with the fast delivery of services.
He also urged institutions to use the Gambian domains which, he said, can make it easier for the services to be reliable and cost effective.
Mr. Malick Jones, Deputy Permanent Secretary MOICI, in his remark, emphasized the importance of the forum, adding that it will go a long way in Cbuilding the capacity of the players in the ICT sector in developing standards for the enhancement of quality services and economic development.
He said work is in progress for the creation of an E-Government System within the Greater Banjul Area in pilot phases and that Gamtel, as the gateway of all communications, has dismantled its old system and is installing a new one.
“In addition, the government of the Gambia through MOICI has an E-Government strategy that outlines the need for implementation of E-Government to improve efficiency and quality of public service delivery. There is the ECOWAN project, which is to connect many government entities and is expected to add to the improvement of efficiency in the delivery of services and reduce costs,” said DPS Jones.
In his opening statement, Lamin Camara, the Permanent Secretary MOICI, said since the adoption of the E-Government implementation strategy and plan, institutions have been implementing their ICT needs from infrastructure\ network to best practices in 2012. He said an E-Government technical team went on a study tour to Rwanda and Ghana and has made recommendations in their report for the implementation and the rolling out of all ICT related projects in a more efficient, cost effective and harmonious manner.
“To this end, my ministry, through the support of UNDP country office, has engaged a consultant to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a National ICT agency. A draft report has been submitted and the next stage is to validate the report by stakeholders,” revealed the MOICI PS.
By Sailu Bah