I highly believe that Xoom wireless is just a front for Sonatel. How can one set up a company and turn around and sell 91.6% of the company to a foreigner without even setting up the required infrastructure and operating for a while. I highly believe that he is acting on behalf of Sonatel, as Sonatel will find it very difficult to enter the Gambian market without this kind of dubious arrangement.
I have nothing against Sonatel but I think we should encourage our local companies to grow and encourage young and talented citizens to enter this field. Sonatel is multinational company operating not only in Senegal but Mali, Guinea Bissau and other territories. It is the biggest operator in Senegal providing basis phone, triple play, mobile and many other services. If allowed to operate here, it will totally dominate and kill all other ISPs that are just coming up. Sonatel can subsidize their tariff for years just to kill local competition and it will not affect them. They can even acquire bandwidth from Senegal using the common infrastructure they have with Gamtel. This will drastically reduce their cost and no ISP will be able to compete with them. Sonatel will eventually build massive Wifi and corporate networks thereby taking traffic not only from ISPs but also from mobile operators. Remember Sonatel is no small company.
We have enough ISP companies here; Quantum net, Netpage, Papa Njie and many more. If government is able to reduce taxes for them am sure they can equally do very well and reduce tariff. We should encourage our own and it is the only way we can develop. Muhammed Jah is one excellent example who is not only contributing to the development of the country but also providing employment and hope thousands of Gambians. It is only by encouraging our own will we have many more Muhammed Jahs. How many Gambian companies are given chance to operate in Senegal?
Yes foreign investment is encouraged but in areas where we do not have expertise or capital. ICT is the industry that can provide employment to our young people more than any other industry and we should keep it close to Gambian companies. Government should seriously consider giving assistance to Gamtel/Gamcel in the face of stiff competition. This company has done a lot for this country over the past 25 years and it is only fair that government comes to their aid in difficult times. Do you know Gamtel built the current headquarters of GRTS and the ministry. Even the building used to belong to Gamtel. If my memory serves me right, it cost Gamtel over D20M in those days. GRTS was also setup by Gamtel and bought all the equipment. This is just one example but I can name many more including gateway money. When Gamcel is in difficulty with network expansion, I think they should be helped after all government is the only shareholder. If they are helped to expand, they will prosper like any other mobile company.
By Ebou Ceesay
Editors note: The views expressed by the author do not represent the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention.