The Parliament of the Republic of The Gambia has rejected the concessional loan framework agreement for the construction of national broadband infrastructure signed on 22 December 2017 between the Ministry of Economy & Finance and EXIM Bank of China, reports Agence Ecofin. A majority of Gambian MPs voted against the loan agreement – of unpublicised value – on 15 March 2018 after objecting to various aspects of the deal including details regarding repayment structure (set for a period not exceeding 20 years, with 2% interest). Minister of Economy & Finance Amadou Sanneh lamented that parliament’s rejection of the financing plan would have adverse consequences on ICT sector development and the wider national economy.
The loan was intended to support an additional 420km of fibre-optics to be deployed by China’s Huawei Technologies to complement the 947km already deployed by Gambia Telecommunications Company (Gamtel) under the West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Programme (WARCIP). Work that began on 16 February 2018 was set to be completed by the end of 2018. The Gambian government aims to reduce the cost of broadband access whilst deploying optical fibre across the national territory, with fibre loops in major cities, plus launch a national data centre.