By Yankuba Jallow
Gambian internet service providers have reacted to Sonatel’s deal to enter the Gambian market through partnering with Xoom Wireless.
Foroyaa engaged local internet service providers as well as cellular companies about the issue.
Lamin Fofana Marketing and Communication Manager of Gamcel said the Gambia has a small market with lots of providers.
“The market is saturated with players,” adding, “A new company or provider is not needed, what is needed is to invest in the current players to upgrade from maybe from 2G to 3 or 4G,” he said.
He said the government should invest in the telecom sector like they are doing with the energy and other sectors. This, he said, is important in order to boost the capacity of the local service providers thereby promoting efficiency in their service delivery.
Musa Sise, a communication specialist of the Africell Company Ltd said as a business, Africell is ready for competition in providing affordable and better services to consumers. He said, “The Gambia has many internet service providers such as Netpage, Quantum Net, Lasting Solution and others that are all doing very good in providing better services to their customers.”
“We are ready to compete and we are ready for business,” he said.
Sise opined that the local providers could have been supported to provide efficient service delivery to the consumers. He said that the coming in of the Senegalese Sonatel is an investment for them and they would be profit oriented.
“As providers, we don’t see their coming as necessary looking at the market space we have in The Gambia,” he said.
Sonatel is set to enter the Gambian market. Sonatel has announced in a press release that it has entered into an agreement for the acquisition of 91.6% of the share capital of XOOM Wireless. The agreements obtained, however, are said to be subject to approval by Gambian authorities.
Mr. Kalifa Faal of Sonatel in his opinion claims that this project will boost Gambia’s internet capacity, and will enhance quality and access and will be cheaper. He said this will bring up a vibrant competing market in the internet sector which is good for the country.
Speaking to private citizens, most of them said this is not a good idea, adding that those people are here for investment and are profit oriented.
“They don’t have anything to lose. They are here to make profit,” one Modou Jobe told Foroyaa.
They opined that the government should empower the local providers so that the quality of the internet service in the Gambia could improve.
“How can our local providers improve when you have foreign investors doing the same thing?” one Siaka Jarju said, “adding that the local providers are doing the service based on their means.”
Other people who talked to Foroyaa said the provision of the internet service is never cheap and therefore, the local providers are doing this expensive services based on their little resources. They said the coming of the foreign company would provide stiff competition on the local providers where the weak ones may close.