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The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zone Authority has developed a 10 hectare “free zone” adjacent to Banjul’s airport which has 2000 sq mtrs of factory space with basic services and facilities and it is keen to attract ICT service companies into the space. There is also more land for development that can be made available a concessional rate.

QuantumNet has signed an agreement with Nokia to become a regional distributor and service centre, taking advantage of the country’s air links with countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone. It may be one of the first new companies to move into the “free zone”. The partners to the deal will service all West African countries except Nigeria and are looking at selling between 30-35,000 handsets a month. As a commitment to the new arrangement, Nokia is reducing its distributorships in Dubai from 36 to 3. As the new agent, QuantumNet will sell all Nokia phones in the catalogue and has signed up 20 resellers so far and is intending to open its own shops.

The “free zone” exempts participating companies from sales and income tax. All imported goods and raw materials are exempted from customs duty. But there is also a separate incentive regime outside the “free zone” that offers a range of tax incentives over 5 years but renewable to ten years, including accelerated depreciation. Outside of the potential Nokia deal, there has been ICT interest in the zone from the a Middle East company interested in setting up a teleport in the “free zone”. And as Chief Executive Kebbe Touray told us:”We are a great advocate of liberalisation and of growing opportunities for the private sector to invest.”