Gambia cancels Spectrum’s management of Gamtel/Gamcel, report says

11 Nov 2008

News source www.afriquenligne.fr is reporting that the Gambian government has cancelled a partnership agreement with Lebanese-owned company Spectrum International over the management of national telecoms incumbent Gambia Telecommunications Company (Gamtel), citing a statement from the President’s Office which was broadcast yesterday by state-run Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS). According to the statement, the decision was taken ‘due to fundamental breaches of provisions of partnership agreement made between the government and Spectrum International…This was further exacerbated by the underperformance of the company and the deterioration of the country’s telecommunications infrastructure under its watch.’ The decision followed President Yahya Jammeh’s 72-hour-ultimatum to the company to submit financial and other information on the state of the telco (and presumably Gamtel’s wholly owned cellular subsidiary Gamcel, although this was not confirmed).

Spectrum previously told TeleGeography that it aimed to quash persistent rumours in the local press of alleged financial and operational problems in a report to be published in the first quarter of 2009. A senior official said that the report would include financial and subscriber growth statistics, and would list the achievements of Gamtel and Gamcel since the Gambian government sold a 50% stake in them to Spectrum in August 2007. The representative said that fixed line and mobile network development projects had commenced in Q4 2007, including the expansion of Gamcel’s mobile coverage to additional rural areas, whilst the telco had achieved ‘a 25% increase in international incoming call traffic and a 50% increase in international outgoing traffic over twelve months.’ Gamtel is the exclusive international voice gateway operator in Gambia, and Spectrum claims to have ‘stopped all illegal routes’ since it took on its management role.