Will a new Board save Gamtel in Gambia?

Telecoms

A new board for the Gambia Telecommunications Company (Gamtel) was this week inaugurated by Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, secretary of state for Communications and Information Technology. The inauguration of the new board of directors, headed by Chairman Michael Tenn, managing director of Gamtel, came following the signing of a strategic partnership between the government and Spectrum Group in August, this year. Other members of the board are Chief Executive Officer of TAF Construction Mustapha Njie, vice chairman; Ali Musawi, Spectrum/Gamtel; Mr Raghid Charara, director of International Operations of Spectrum/Gamtel; Mohammed Jammeh, UTG lecturer; Banding Sillah, finance director of Gamtel; Alhaji Taal, representing permanent secretary at the Department of State for Finance and Economic Affairs; Lamin Camara, representing permanent secretary at the Department of State for Communications and Information Technology; Rein Zwolsman, CEO of Gamtel and Cril Rumble, chief finance officer of Gamtel.

According to Secretary of State Macdouall-Gaye "the composition of the board, which comprises representatives of the government, private sector, Spectrum Group and Detecon (the management consultants) is a new set up of its kind to create diversity and synergy in the successful execution of this new initiative”.

SoS Macdouall-Gaye recounted the avalanche of challenges that has gripped Gamtel prior to the new partnership, saying "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".

"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 added.

"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). He emphasised that he would not compromise any complacency for failure. It is therefore worthy to note that the president attaches great importance to this strategic partnership and has entrusted you the board members and Spectrum Group to make this partnership a success and that Gamtel/Gamcel become a world leader in telecommunications," she told the new board.

The Communications and Information Technology Secretary of State then gave a piece of advice: "As board of directors, you are tasked to provide the strategic direction of Gamtel/Gamcel and to give the necessary guidance, advice and support to management. You are therefore, expected to help: Re-position the company and maintain its position as a market leader in the country; improve the company's financial status and profitability; ensure improve dividend payment to shareholders; improve its quality of service and expand its activities especially in rural areas; ensure available, accessible and affordable services are provided to consumers; and restore its past glory and become a world class telecommunications service provider."

She acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead of the board. However, she said: "We are confident that with the calibre, experience and dedication of the board members, we can make this a reality."

The Daily Observer