Gambia’s telecoms minister Ebrima Sillah has confirmed that the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) has issued the country’s fifth GSM mobile network operating licence to a start-up company named Giraffe Telecom, The Voice newspaper reported yesterday. Minister Sillah stated that ‘there is a space for a fifth operator’, adding that heightened competition would be ‘good for the Gambian customers’. Regarding availability of mobile frequencies, Sillah disclosed: ‘PURA [Public Utility Regulatory Authority] some months ago did a consultancy on usage of spectrum and it’s a fact that almost 75% or more of the entire spectrum of the country is in the hands of two operators and sometimes not being used. So, the spectrum alignment consultancy was meant to ensure that you keep what you pay for and what you use and the rest should return back to the state and ensure it’s reused or for other purposes.’ Regarding Giraffe’s ownership, the minister noted that ‘between 60% and 70%’ of the new company is owned by ‘ordinary Gambians who are doing business in this country.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Gambians currently have a choice of mobile services from four operators, two of which – Africell and Gamcel – launched in 2001, before further competition arrived courtesy of Comium Mobile in 2007 and QCell in 2009. In October 2021 the MOICI ordered a one-month suspension of Comium’s network operations because of overdue fees, although a court subsequently sided with the cellco, which meanwhile received assistance from UK-headquartered Monty Mobile to clear its debts.