Reference is made to your publication on 3rd October 2023 with the subject above. We would like to bring to your attention that the statements made by cable.co.uk is not reflective of our data charges.
In The Gambia, over the years despite the increase in forex rates, data charges have been steadily coming down. In 2023 alone, QCell reduced its data tariffs up to 40% as well as its on-net and off-net tariffs.
As per industry standard, when one is to determine the average data cost in a county 1GB is mostly used as a baseline. The article stated that “the average cost of a 1GB plan is approximately US$3.56 which is about D225”. QCell’s data tariff for 1GB is D130 which is approximately US$2 and well under what the article stated. If you consider all our regular data bundles, the average retail price for a 1GB plan is approximately D100. And on other platforms within the QCell network, 1GB is as low as D75 which is about $1.2 and none of this is reflective in this article. In order to determine prices there are various elements one has to look into. At QCell, our main objective is to provide the most Innovate Technological Services at the most affordable cost therefore, cost is quite sensitive to us and something we thoroughly look into.
When such a comparison is made, the underlying factors deriving the price have to be equally looked at as well. The Gambia with a population of approximately 2.64 million people and 4 players in the market has operational costs that are much higher than other (large) African countries as well; high electricity costs, fluctuation forex rates as well as gateway maintenance fees. Regardless of all these factors, we have been able to reduce and maintain the lower data prices.
In conclusion, when such articles are done by foreign consultants it is vital that they get access to the right information and consult key players as well as the regulator otherwise some of the data they use might be stale.
Senior manager, Qcell
The GABECE results are a national disaster. Time for a national inquiry
While the nation is yet to recover from the abysmal failure in the Grade 12 WASSCE 2023 results we are now witnessing yet another disaster in the Grade 9 GABECE results 2023. Out of 27,402 students only 41 students obtained Aggregate 6! That is only 41 students, which is equivalent to one classroom, had A grade in each 6 subjects! How and why should this be? One would have expected that most students would obtain Aggregate 6 including maths and English because that is the very objective of teaching and learning leading to exams: for most students to know and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding with flying colours.
Still out of the 27,402 students only 13,626 students obtained Aggregate 42 or less! This is less than half the total number of students who sat for GABECE. Just like the WASSCE, the nation should be outraged at this mass failure and demand answers from the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. The number of resources from both local funds and loans and grants invested into the education of Gambian children are huge. Our children are normal children who should have the capacity to undergo classroom teaching and learn their subjects so effectively that when put to exams they are able to demonstrate their competence and capacity in explaining what they learnt. Therefore, why are these results poor?
The president and the National Assembly and indeed Gambians must not be satisfied with the press release from MOBSE which tries to tell us that this is progress because last year 31 students got Aggregate 6 and this has increased by 10 students to 41students this year. Why should all Gambian basic schools put together – from both the public and private sectors – produce only 41 students with Aggregate 6?
These results demand a rigorous, objective, and urgent inquiry because it is utterly abnormal and a sign of serious systemic failure for any country to produce such deplorable results in school exams. Basic and secondary education is the foundation of our civilization. It is where the future decision makers, technocrats, thinkers, inventors, and leaders of our society are moulded.
Therefore, what is expected is to see the state and society making immense investments in this sector so as to provide all the resources, facilities, and tools necessary to create effective and efficient teaching and learning which will result in most children having the capacity and competence to perform in exams. Is this happening or not? The results undoubtedly speak for themselves that this is not happening. I do not think our children are so incapable of learning. I strongly believe that we have amazing and passionate teachers in this country. Therefore, why are these not translating into high performance? Where does the problem lie?
This appalling trend, which has been the case for years, is undermining the future development and progress of this country. If the basic and secondary education levels are weak surely it will lead to weak tertiary education. One only needs to look at societies that are advanced to realize that they are standing on robust and high performing education systems and institutions from basic and secondary education to tertiary institutions including technical and vocational education and training.
I strongly hold that the education system is not fair to our children as it is retarding their ability to learn and excel. For that matter there is a need for a national inquiry into these terrible results. Our children deserve to undergo a teaching and learning process that will expose and strengthen their cognitive ability understand and master their subjects to be able to perform and deliver exceedingly well at exams. These results indicate that our children are inadequately taught or denied the rightful tools and conducive environment to be able to exercise their abilities. This means our education system is rather weakening and retarding the performance and progress of our children. That is a national calamity.