By Tabora Bojang
The director general of Pura, Yusupha Jobe, has disclosed that his regulatory authority will no longer rely on telecom operators to monitor and measure quality of their services as well as investigate consumer complaints on data and other issues, following the acquisition of a new monitoring equipment with support from the World Bank.
GSM operators in The Gambia have been given flak for charging exorbitant fees for data, unjustified deductions and theft, poor or no internet availability, network unavailability, harassment and malicious calls.
The Gambia has been ranked by Business Insider Africa as the eighth country in Africa with the most expensive average usage of mobile data with USD5.86 per gigabyte.
The director said with the new monitoring system in place, Pura can now challenge and issue deadlines to operators to fulfill what is required of them to ensure there is equitable, quality, and affordable services.
The Pura boss made this disclosure in an interview with The Standard on the sidelines of a three-day international convergence of experts of the International Telecommunication Union in Banjul under the theme, ‘Sharing Experience to Enhance Telecoms Network Quality for Consumers’.
ITU-T Study Group 12 is the expert group responsible for the development of international standards on performance, quality of service and quality of experience on the spectrum of terminals, networks and services ranging from speech over fixed circuit-switched networks to multimedia applications over mobile and packaged based networks.
Asked about his assessment on telecommunication services quality in The Gambia, the Pura DG said we still have some way to go.
“But we have been improving tremendously and both the operators and regulator have been ensuring that we are able to get the tools to measure quality, to monitor quality and also attain consumers who do send complains and so on about the quality of services, drop calls, lack of access to data, wi-fi and so on. “The good news is that Pura has been able to acquire very expensive equipment with the help of our partners such as World Bank and the government to be able to do these monitoring by ourselves rather than taking the information given to us by the operators as it was in the past. So now if we are not happy with what is happening [in the market] we can challenge and give deadlines to operators to fulfill what is required to be done so that there is fair and equitable service, quality, quantity as well as affordability. We are working towards trying to ensure that this happens for every Gambian. It is a question of time but very soon we should be very happy with the service quality we get in The Gambia. If we expand the fibre networks and other functionalities you will see that the coverage will be better and even remote areas will be accessible.”
Awa Macalo contributed to this story.