World Bank supports Gambian telecoms reform plans

World Bank supports Gambian telecoms reform plans

According to reports in the West African regional press, the World Bank has allocated $30 million to Gambia for use in telecommunications and energy.

The funding, in the form of grants aimed at improving financial sustainability and the delivery of services, will support the implementation of reforms in the telecommunications and energy sectors, say press agencies. New procurement procedures will also be adopted to minimise what is called ‘over-the-counter procurement’.

Initiatives financed by the new funds will aim to ensure that public investments in projects fall within the framework of priorities defined by the country’s National Development Plan – including economic stabilisation, growth stimulation and structural transformation.

Under the plan, the country’s government says it intends to undertake major reforms in a bid to enhance macroeconomic management for sustainable and inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. This, the plan states, will be achieved through prudent fiscal management, debt sustainability measures, broadening the tax base and improving tax efficiency, as well as implementing public finance management reforms.

It is partly in this context that the Gambian government committed last year to reforming state-backed fixed line operator Gamtel and its mobile subsidiary Gamcel, which trails well behind the country’s private sector mobile operators in terms of size. It was decided early in 2019 that the two firms should be restructured and that shares in Gamcel be divested, though this process does not appear to have been completed yet.

In May last year Gamcel was reported to be calling for a government financial bailout to avoid the risk of its operations closing down altogether.

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