Monday, February 26, 2024

The Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy Reflects on 2023 Achievements & Future Aspirations

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By: Adama Sanneh

On Friday, January 19th, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (MOCDE) held a press briefing at the OIC conference hall to highlight their achievements and challenges for the year 2023.

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The Ministry acknowledged undergoing structural changes and reaching milestones in digital infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, implementing policies fostering a thriving digital economy, and collaborating with the private sector to drive innovation.

Ousman A. Bah, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, stated that the Ministry has made progress in designing, developing, formulating, and implementing policies, strategies, bills, and regulations aimed at fostering the growth of the digital economy in The Gambia.

“I envision The Gambia prominently featured in global indexes for the ICT and digital economy sector. This includes benchmarks such as the global e-government index, ICT index, connectivity index, network readiness index, and other relevant metrics.”

According to the UN e-government development index 2022, The Gambia was ranked 174th out of 193. In 2020, The Gambia ranked 143rd globally among 193 countries, placing it behind many African nations. In the 2019 ITU’s low consumption mobile-data-and-voice affordability ranking, The Gambia ranked 159th out of 179 countries, the Minister highlighted.

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In 2023, the Ministry embarked on a study tour in Rwanda, Mauritius, and Nigeria to draw lessons from these countries regarding their journey to digitalization and the digital transformation sector.

The minister stated, “During our visit, we came to understand the role of digitalization in socio-economic transformation and development. Let me cite a few examples: ICT contributed 17.47% to Nigeria’s real GDP in 2023, 13% to Mauritius’s real GDP, and around 30% of Estonia’s GDP.”

He believes that ICT and the digital economy play an essential role in the socio-economic development and transformation of The Gambia, fostering inclusive sustainable growth and development, job creation, creating a conducive environment for digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and improving service delivery.

According to the 2023 achievement highlights overview of the Ministry, the current digital economy landscape of The Gambia indicates a significant improvement in its telecommunications infrastructure by introducing the ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine cable and establishing key backbone networks, including ECOWAS Wide Area Network (ECOWAN) and the national Broadband Network managed by Gamtel, providing approximately 947 kilometers of fiber optic cables across the country.

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According to the Ministry, in 2023, they achieved Annual Web Hosting by creating a government Web hosting and email, resulting in yearly savings of D6 million for MOJ and D14.4 million for MOH. Additionally, they created Digital Addressing with a total of 132,937 in Banjul, KMC, and Brikama (Kombo North). A total of 3,000 Government Emails were introduced to ease meetings among government members, which would be increased to 5,000 in 2024. Also, the inauguration of the National Cybersecurity committee (NCSE) that would be responsible for coordination, resource mobilization, and advice. A funded project of $50 million grant from the World Bank was introduced. The Ministry also introduced the second Submarine cable to complement the first, securing an amount of $25 million through the World Bank as part of WARDIP funding.

“Let us embrace the fact that technology is the cornerstone of development. The Ministry cannot do it alone; it is a collaborative and ongoing process that requires the active participation and support of every Gambian.”

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