Barrow spells out moves towards digital revolution in Gambia

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - President Adama Barrow has spelt out the communications and digital policy of his government geared towards digital revolution and connecting the Gambia to the world’s digital economy.

The Gambian leader was addressing a meeting in Brikama, West Coast region, on Thursday as part of his countrywide tour.

He announced that his government is about to roll out a new street lighting project that would provide 5,000 street lights across the country, and at the same time, deliver easy internet connectivity.

Each of these street lights, according to him, would be fitted with a 24-hour CCTV surveillance camera and wireless internet hotspot for the use of the public.

“The electro-digital blueprint will help boost security and cut down crime rates by improving the surveillance capacity of our security services, while providing affordable and easy access to the internet.”

In addition to the 5,000 street lights, he announced that another 2,000 street lights will be installed through World Bank funding, and will be fitted with bulbs that would save energy by 75 per cent.

The Gambian leader was reacting to an appeal by a woman councillor for government to fix the street lights in Brikama. She said the dark streets shield crimes and criminal activities by unscrupulous individuals who use the cover of the darkness to rob and attack unsuspecting people.

President Barrow assured the people of Brikama that their concerns would be addressed stressing that the project will kick off in the town, taking into account its strategic geography and demographic constitution.  

Speaking at various places in the West Coast region, Ebrima Sillah, Gambia’s new Minister of Information and Communications Infrastructure, weighed in on the ICT plans highlighted by the president. He outlined government’s digital policy for all sectors of the economy, emphasising that technology is the future.

Guaranteeing that the country’s digital revolution would take off, Sillah announced that Gamtel, the country’s national telecom outfit has completed a nationwide survey and identified places where WiFi hotspots would be installed for use by the general public.

The pilot project, according him, would include Brusubi Turntable, Westfield, Serekunda Market, Brikama, Gunjur, among other places. He added that all fishing boats in coastal communities in Kombo North and Greater Banjul would have WiFi navigation systems with weather forecast capabilities to ensure safety at sea.

In terms of rate collection, Sillah explained that all taxes and rates collected on behalf of government, city and area councils would deliver cellphone confirmation to the payee. He said the technology would help prevent siphoning of tax monies and facilitate easier payment systems for citizens.

He also explained that all compounds in The Gambia will be registered on a central digital platform. Village and district authorities would also be on the same platform to ensure proper monitoring and accounting, by a way of automatic notification to the authorities of foreigners or guests that might be hosted in any compound, village, town or city.

In the area of security, government would install a 24-hour emergency hotline system that make the nearest police station reachable by speed dial.  Once there is a crime or a suspicion of illegal acts being committed, these numbers will be used to send alerts to a nearby police installation.

The health component of the plan would create a similar registry for pregnant women that would allow them easy contact with the nearest health facilities. According to the Minister, it would allow health workers to monitor, respond and send alerts to couples when the time for clinical visits are due.

For tourists visiting the Gambia, each hotel room will be fitted with a programmed cultural and historical mini-documentary. Tourists will view the explanations of the country’s rich history and cultural heritage, plus the country’s exotic eco-destinations in languages they understand. It will guide them to choose where they want to visit while they are in the Gambia.

“Technology is the future,” Sillah emphasised maintaining that virtual classrooms are also part of the national digitization plan.
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 27July2018

27 july 2018 09:29:42




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