By: Kebba AF Touray
Ebrima Sillah, the Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure, has yesterday tabled the Gambia Information and Communication Technology Agency [GICTA] Bill 2019 before the National Assembly, for consideration.
Sillah said the Bill aims to establish the Agency to coordinate and spearhead the implementation of the information technology programs and projects in the public service and for matters connected therewith, which is preceded by Cabinet approval of the policy paper, for the establishment of the Gambia Information and Communication Technology Agency and the recognition by the government of the Gambia, of the need to create an institution to support government and service sectors, to improve service delivery, competitiveness through the use of ICTs in the governance process.
“The decision to establish GICTA was based on an informed decision as it was guided by a feasibility study conducted in 2014, through the support of the UNDP, the outcome of which justifies the need to establish such an agency”, he said.
He added: “Given the bold decision the government has taken through the National Development Plan to transform the country into a knowledge based and digital economy, there is the need to establish an agency with the requisite expertise to coordinate and support the implementation of the key ICT and E-Government programs, project and subsequently review the impact of such projects and programs on the general performance on government’s strategic objectives”.
He cited recruiting of people with the requisite skills to push the country’s ICT development agenda due to the unattractive enumeration package of the Civil service, as his Ministry’s’ major challenge, as such the establishment of such an agency with a better enumeration package, will help address this daunting challenge.
He further disclosed that due to the absence of the proper coordination mechanism within the government, the sustainability of some of these activities once the project faces out becomes a challenge due to limited resources and capacity to support the management of the infrastructure. This he said, in some cases results in duplication of efforts and loss of resources and therefore calls for the establishment of the agency to coordinate all these ICT projects.
He sated further that with the growing trend and recognition globally, that in order to be effective, satisfactory and rewarding public sector governance, there is needed to use ICTs to achieve extra efficiency in the functioning of the government and its service delivery.
He stressed that the objective of establishing GICTA includes but not limited to encourage the optimal use of Information Technology [IT], introduction of new technologies and investment in IT infrastructure and services, enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the Gambia internationally in this IT sector. Further the advancement of technology, research and development relating to IT through the modern and effective infrastructure, taking into account the convergence of IT, media, telecommunications and consumer electronics and promote and encourage local content application development.
The Bill awaits the blessings of the relevant National Assembly Select Committee to which it has been referred to shortly after it had been tabled by Minister Sillah.