- The Gambia's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Nenneh Macdouall-Gaye, presided over the inauguration of the new board of Gambia Telecommunications Company Ltd (Gamtel).
Following a controversial sale of 50% shares of Gamtel and its subsidiary [Gamcel] in August this year, the company's old board was dissolved. A little known Germany company [Spectrum] bought the companies' shares, amid public outcry.
The 10-member board is headed by Gamtel's new Managing Director, Michael Tenn. Its inauguration followed an the signing of "a strategic partnership" between the government and Spectrum Group in August.
In her inaugural speech, the Information Minister described the Gamtel-Spectrum partnership as a "significant milestone" in the history of Gamtel because it would re-energise and reposition the company to better serve as the national flagship and leader in the continent's telecommunication business.
She said the board's composition would create diversity and synergy in the successful execution of the company.
Ms Macdouall-Gaye recalled the many challenges that beset Gamtel prior to the partnership.
“You will agree with me that Gamtel over the years experienced operational, technical, financial and strategic limitations, which posed unbearable challenges that led to a stagnant technological expansion and growth. This impacted on the profitability of the company, inability to honour its liabilities and inadequate cash flow to provide necessary working capital," she said.
“As a result, Gamtel has deteriorated in capacity and resources to carryout its national obligations. This was compounded by the fierce competition it faces in the industry which calls for a strategic shift in thinking and new management style hence the need for this new strategic partnership.”
She said the reasons for selling half of the company's shares were necessitated by Gambians inability to effectively manage it.
“Therefore, government was forced to shift its strategy to commercialise the company by divesting 50% of government’s shares and entrusting the management to a third party company [Detecon]," she said.
Information Minister advised the board to improve the company's financial status, profitability, quality services as well as make services accessible and affordable to consumers, especially those in the rural areas.
“We are confident that with the calibre, experience and dedication of the board members, we can make this a reality.”
The underground sale of Gamtel/Gamcel shares was widely condemned by Gambians from all walks of life. It has been described as a deliberate "flagrant violation of laws governing public institutions."
The government also privatised Gambia International Airlines on 1 June.
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