‘GamSell’ rocks staff

14 Aug 2007

As reported last Friday in CommsUpdate, Gambia’s government has agreed to sell 50% stakes in both Gambia Telecommunications Co (GamTel) and Gambia Telecommunications Cellular Co (Gamcel) to a Lebanese investment company, according to GamTel officials quoted by Afrol News. However, the deal remains shrouded in mystery, as neither the government nor the buyer, Spectrum Investment Group, has confirmed the agreement. Furthermore, there was no sale tender issued – apparently contradicting regulations governing the sale of public assets in the country – whilst directors of the two state-run operators reportedly had no prior knowledge of the transaction until they were informed by the Minister of Information and Communication, Nenneh Macduall-Gaye, last week. Director of GamTel, Katim Touray, was in South Africa when the news of the sales broke. An unnamed GamTel official told Afrol that staff were ‘shocked’ when ‘the minister broke the news to us at a meeting of directors in her office’, and expressed concern that the national fixed line and GSM networks would now fall under foreign control. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Gambia’s two private mobile operators, Africell and Comium Mobile, are also owned by Lebanese investors, Lintel Holdings and Comium Group respectively. Spectrum’s purchase of the GamTel and Gamcel stakes reportedly took effect on 1 August, with German-based consultancy DeTeCon assigned by Spectrum to manage its holdings. The operators are said to be discussing joint management strategies with DeTeCon.