By: Kebba AF Touray
Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, told Lawmakers that following the launch of the ACE submarine cable in the Gambia, total bandwidth capacity has been increased by over 300%.
Sillah disclosed this information yesterday, Tuesday March 19th 2019, before the Legislators at the National Assembly.
In responding to a question asked by the Member for Upper Saloum MP Alhagie Mbow on factors for poor internet speed in the country despite the presence of the ACE submarine cable, Sillah said the ACE cable connects the Gambia from its landing station to Europe (France).
“However, to effectively utilize this huge capacity and address quality issues, a national fibre backbone with middle and last miles accesses are needed to enable the end user access this ACE infrastructure,” Sillah.
“For this reason, Gamtel through the Government of The Gambia, acquired a loan from the Islamic Development Bank, to lay down the National Fibre backbone (ECOWAN- Gambia project) and National Broadband Network (NBN) project through a concessionary loan from the Peoples’ Republic of China, to address the middle and last mile accesses”.
He buttressed that the last miles access is expensive especially with fibre, and that most States achieve this by releasing enough spectrum at affordable prices; but that Government is ensuring the release of the viable spectrum (digital dividend) with the digital migration project, which avails more spectrum for mobile broadband network.
On whether the Ministry has plans to set up an ICT for Government and how soon, Sillah responded that his Ministry has plans to set up an ICT agency, cognisant of its importance, and as such has prepared a cabinet paper which was tabled and endorsed.
‘‘The Ministry of Justice was engaged in the drafting of the ICT Agency Bill. The bill has since been finalized following consultation with relevant stakeholders and is expected to be tabled before the Legislature,’’ Sillah concludes.