Gambia’s second mobile operator Africell has just launched a GSM payphone product called Wahtan (chit-chat in wolof) in association with Unique Solutions. The first phase has been to give 20 telecentres the payphones which they are offering at US0.03 cents a minute compared with US0.06 cents a minute on a mobile. The rates could become even cheaper in the second phase.

The second phase is to roll out more widely to the 1000 telecentres in the country. The third phase is to work with an NGO to give the payphones to unemployed youths who would get 10% of the income taken.

Africell is owned by a combination of local and Lebanese investors and it has just been granted a licence for a second international licence which is allowing it to give some price competition to the incumbent, Gamtel.

Meanwhile Gamtel has just had a CDMA network installed by Huawei and it plans to increase its capacity to 400,000 lines. Using this network it has launched a data service which gives download speeds of approximately 50 kbps. The service offers unlimited access for US$15 per month compared to US$10 per month for a less speedy dial-up service.