Looking at the Gambia, there’s little trust consumers have on their telecommunications companies due to their nature of services & products delivery. Despite there are four players in the telecom market, Gambian consumers do not enjoy fair, affordable, and sustainable digital products & services. It’s expensive, unreliable, and poor in services. Although, PURA (Public Utility and Regulatory Authority) have introduced per second billing last year, March 2020. These charges are effected based each consumer’s consumption in each call within the borders of The Gambia. International calls, which are now mostly conducted via WhatsApp, Emails, and other social media platforms as the preferred medium for communications, has taken a digital shape. Notwithstanding, internet tariffs in The Gambia remain unchanged despite it evolving nature in the 21st century.
While digital transformation is require in any society that seeks to progress in the 21st century, Gambia does not even have a trajectory to build digital infrastructures, and there cannot be digital transformation without digital infrastructures. Also, consumers too need trusted products and services from telecommunications & internet providers alike, that is fair, affordable, and sustainable. More so, the Gambian consumers need a well regulated & accountable telecommunication industry that do not only exploit the gains in digitalization but help consumers to better benefit from their digital initiatives. In this light, PURA must fastened up it’s regulations on telecommunications, and let Gambian consumers be well informed on emerging technologies from their service providers for them to make sustainable choices in opting for a service or product. By this, transparency & accountability from the telecommunications industry cannot be overstated. It’s a must-have!
Information in this age is gold, and one most prominent medium of information is the internet. Advance in technology/digitalization has swift the way we do things; (even though online shopping is not common in The Gambia) majority of us now days buy from online (Amazon, eBay, Ali Express, etc.) And most communications are mostly online (Emails, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, etc.) Throughout this pandemic, these aforementioned digital platforms have been quite instrumental as the Pandemic shifted our life to online and in the cloud.
Notwithstanding, digital divide in the Gambia remain somewhat wide as internet is largely unaffordable for many middle income earners in this country. Most of us rather use the money we have to purchase food, shelter, and clothing than buy mega bite to surf the web, and this gap isn’t shielding anytime soon. However, there’s enormous competition between internet providers, the telecom companies offering post & prepaid services, and the tech companies providing wireless broadband internet services recently, (which is a good development), because the more the players, the better the competition – as it offer opportunity for consumers to have varied choices. Nonetheless, Gambian consumers must be willing to acquire digital literacy to further understand how digital tools & services work – as it appears we’re heading to that world.