The internet is interconnection of LAN and WAN. Internet access is growing steadily throughout Africa, but there are still key barriers. Digital equity is no longer a theoretical problem in these eras of learning from home. Internet access is now an essential part of a successful education. The government should invest in the telecom sector like the energy and other sectors, by doing this internet problems will be solved throughout the Smiling Coast of Africa.
The development of telecoms markets has long been stymied by the lack of fixed-line infrastructure in rural and semi-rural regions, as well as by the poor quality of networks in those urban areas where they are concentrated. As a result, mobile networks provide the principal platform for voice and data connectivity. Depending on the market, between 90% and 98% of all internet connections are via mobile networks. As a result, governments and regulators alike have concentrated on this platform to deliver on their broadband targets, according to BuddeComm report in 2020.
Similarly, this has been achieved by several strategies. One important challenge is providing sufficient spectrum in a coordinated fashion, thereby efficiently managing spectrum use for MNOs across borders. Many governments and regulators have been slow to release spectrum or have preferred to demand such high fees that potential licensees have baulked at bidding for concessions. This has contributed to insufficient spectrum availability and thus poor QoS and network coverage.
Though digitisation has accelerated in 2020, with much of the global economy moving online, this hasn’t been accompanied by an increase in the number of people with internet connections in their homes. However, the number of internet subscriptions worldwide is set to grow by just two per cent this year, down from eight per cent in 2019.
Sub-Saharan Africa has seen steady growth in mobile broadband coverage in recent years and this trend shows no signs of slowing. Indeed, the GSMA figures show that in 2018 around 23% of the population were mobile internet users, with this figure expected to rise to 39% by 2025. However, compared to the global average, this figure remains low, stopping millions of Africans from engaging with the digital economy.
The Gambia has a population of 2.1 million. With 176 people per square kilometer, it is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Most of the population (57%) is concentrated around urban and peri-urban centers. African Development Bank (AfDB) noted that, following the 2016 political transition, GDP growth accelerated to 6.6% in 2018 driven by a recovery in agriculture, tourism, construction, and trade. The gross domestic product of mainland West African country grew 6% in 2019 as International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicated, led by tourism and agriculture. The country suffered from the bankruptcy of the company Thomas Cook (UK) which affected the in-flow of tourists and from erratic rainfall that lowered the agricultural output. It then fell to an estimated 5.4% in 2019 due to weak fiscal management and delays in budget support disbursements, according to AfDB.
The country has no important mineral or other natural resources, and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and animal hides. The lack of data services is a barrier to agricultural productivity. Data-driven farming involves the use of the right data at the right time to aid better decision-making, so farmers can boost their long-term profits.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have severe socioeconomic consequences. Heavily dependent on tourism, The Gambia is mainly impacted by a reduction in tourists, particularly from key markets in Europe, but also from trade disruption and lower commodity prices. Last year, Gambia’s finance ministry predicted that the country’s economy will contract 1.5% in 2020 growth due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tourism. Also, the World Bank indicated that, GDP growth is projected to decline to between 2.5 and -2.4% in 2020. The Gambia’s economic freedom score is 56.3, making its economy the 123rd freest in the 2020 Index.
Technology is sampling the benefit one gets from interacting with an application/Software. Applications in internet space run on platform; platform run on infrastructure. Too much infancies on application without platform and infrastructure in place will have an adverse effect in cost of doing business in The Gambia. Software and Application developers do not sell their products like they used to, is more of Pay as You Go or Use.
Gambia has a small market is saturated with lots of providers. Gambia Telecommunications Services Company (Gamtel is the principal telecommunications company of the Gambia). There are four other mobile networks providing effective competition.
Africell is the current leader on the Gambian telecom market with about 60% of market share, Comium and QCell compete closely for second and third place. Gamtel’s mobile unit Gamcel is by far the smallest operator, with about 10% share.
Although the incumbent has a relatively well-developed national fibre backbone network, low fixed-line penetration has hindered internet usage. There are licensed ISPs, which are small operators serving local areas, and so competition is minimal. The government has embarked on a National Broadband Network program aimed at closing the digital divide affecting many parts of the country, though in mid-2018 the terms of a loan required to continue work on the network were rejected by Parliament.
- Gambia’s telecom market is dominated by the incumbent telco Gamtel which retains a monopoly on fixed-line telephony services.
The landline telecoms company which also acts as an internet service provider offering dial-up access with fixed line or wireless Jamano Data or high speed ADSL, ISDN.
INET Gambia Co. Ltd.
- InsistNet is an internet service provider serving companies, organisations, schools & residential homes with fast internet access.
- Their early adoption of the 4G WiMAX-based wireless broadband service innovation provides for ultra-broadband Internet access, for e.g. laptops with USB wireless modems, tablets and other mobile digital devices.
- The company provides internet access when using its 3G connections over your mobile smartphone. There charges are by the mb used from 50MB up to 12GB. Last year, Africell announced purchased of $6 million equipment in plans to modernize its Internet network across Gambia.
- The IT firm was the Gambia’s first Internet Service Provider which now offers 3G+ web browsing from mobile phones via its subsidiary Qcell.
Internet access in the West African nation has been sparse. The usage of mobile internet continues to register impressive growth the subscription has tremendously increased by 64 percent in 2015 from over 700,000 subscriptions to about 1.2 million subscriptions, according to research conducted by PURA. The Internet penetration rate was over 18% in 2017. The country has over 140 per 100 persons combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity, aided by multiple mobile-cellular providers.
While growing internet coverage has enabled citizens to challenge authoritarian rule, non-democratic leaders have also manipulated or disrupted online access. General internet cuts are not unusual under former Gambian strongman leader President Yahya Jammeh. The restriction on internet and telephone services caused internet freedom groups to petition Jammeh, their appeals were however slammed by the then government.
— StateOfTheInternet (@akamai_soti) November 30, 2016
Internet and all international calls are currently suspend in The Gambia. Gambians head to the polls tomorrow.
— Gambia Decides (@GambiaDecides) November 30, 2016
In a country with burg youth unemployment. The demand for tech skills is clear. Business routine in The Gambia has been shifting rapidly amid a fast growing “digital economy” that enables people to access their needs more quickly. However, much of the designing and engineering work does not necessarily benefit Gambian software developers.
Developing the Gambian technology space is not without challenges – principally, internet connectivity and available skills or knowledge. Companies in The Gambia identify the lack of Information Communications Technology (ICT) knowledge and competence to be a major constraint, according to International Trade Centre report.
The Gambia has one of the most expensive internet costs in Africa. Despite the overwhelming cost of the internet, the country still has one of the poorest internet services in the world. Sare Gubu, a community about 350km from Banjul has complained about this nightmare for over a decade. According to a report by The Point in Gambia, residents of Sare Gubu Basiru in the Sandu District, Upper River Region (URR) have complained over what they called poor mobile telecommunication network and internet connection services in the area. The residents have to walk to the outskirts of the village or hang their mobile phones up to get network services. The majority used Orange Sim Card (Senegalese mobile telecommunication Sim Card) to browse because none of The Gambia’s mobile telecommunication functions in that area effectively, report noted.
Job creation remains a top priority for the government after the departure of Yahya Jammeh. Moreover, investment in local IT infrastructure will bring inbound traffic down, lower prices, increase access and will create low IT tech jobs. Having the right local IT infrastructure in place will also save millions of Dollars in unnecessary travelling expense within and outside the country with deployments of ticketing systems, skype meeting, intranet, extranet, portal etc.
Experts proposed that, the government should invest in the telecom sector like other prominent sectors. This will boost the capacity of the local service providers thereby promoting efficiency in their service delivery. In addition, the government should empower the local providers so that the quality of the internet service in the Gambia could improve. While the use of big data will help to improve understanding of complex interactions and insights to make better decisions to increase productivity in the agri-food sector.