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Supporting societal development in The Gambia with Africell

netengage gambia blog main pic

Africell, with the aid of Squire Technologies, is helping to enrich the lives of Gambians following decades of political unrest and widespread poverty. The new government, which came into power in 2017, ousting the previous ruler, wants to make positive changes. Telecommunications are fundamental to those changes and the government’s National Development Plan.

Gambia national development plan

(The Gambia National Development Plan 2018 – 2021)

Since The Gambia began its information communication and technology (ICT) journey in 2002, a knot of issues has hindered its telecoms market development. Financial and infrastructure problems with the state-run operator and other mobile network operators (MNOs) have resulted in the US International Trade Administration describing The Gambia’s telecommunications infrastructure as operatively expensive, with slow service and frequent maintenance associated black outs.

High operating costs limit the ability of MNOs to invest in infrastructure, causing network congestion, insufficient coverage, particularly for rural areas, and high prices for customers. As a result, there is a slow uptake of digital services, such as digital financial services and online learning, which are essential for Gambian’s economic and social development.

However, despite these obstacles, Africell has shone through, continually enhancing its service and maintaining its place as the country’s most popular MNO. The company seeks to make a difference for citizens and is The Gambia’s biggest Corporate Social Responsibility provider. Its recent activities include sponsoring the building of sports facilities, support for the health sector, and partnerships with education providers to make learning more accessible.

The company continually boosts its network. In 2018, Africell began deploying 4G/LTE, covering the country with 150mbit/s download and upload speeds, and the following year enhanced its 4G offer. By introducing 4G+ and doubling its download speeds to 300mbit/s, it made its network five times faster than the networks of national competitors.

While competitors seek to introduce services that many citizens cannot afford and do not need, Africell focuses on improving services for as many people as possible. To do this, the MNO has again engaged Squire Technologies and NetEngage. The partnership delivers fantastic results for customers throughout Africa, and the two companies are delighted to work on another project for Africell.

The project in The Gambia uses Squire Technologies’ Interworking Function (IWF), part of its Sigla platform, to seamlessly converge Africell’s multigeneration network with NetEngage’s online charging system (OCS). In so doing, Africell can provide improved offers to customers across their entire multigeneration network, avoiding huge network overhaul costs.

Over half of the population of The Gambia lives in poverty, and many citizens lack formal education or the means to improve their lives. The combination of the IWF and OCS will help create affordable telecommunications offers for Gambians, giving more people access to online education and digital financial services. These socio-economic changes are critical for the government’s plan to boost the private sector, reduce poverty and achieve middle income economy status, removing the country from the UN’s Least Developed Countries list.

NetEngage’s OCS provides up-to-date rating and charging functionality, catering to next-generation network Voice, Video, SMS, and Data needs. The advanced platform offers robust real-time rating and charging services while still being able to communicate with Africell’s existing core network.

Squire Technologies’ highly flexible Sigla platform uses its IWF to enable integration of leading-edge OSS/BSS network components into next-generation and legacy networks. Traversing the hybrid mix of networks, it translates and converts between multiple standards and protocols. The backwards and forwards compatibility of the IWF establishes a long-term, flexible network structure for future system integrations.

hymie

“This fantastic project in The Gambia is another example of how our strong and ongoing partnership with Squire Technologies improves lives in Africa”.

Hymie Marnewick, Chief Executive Officer at NetEngage.


Srikanth

“Energy problems, data costs and tired infrastructure are just some of the challenges facing African nations. We are thrilled to be part of the solution in The Gambia. Combining our forward and backward compatible network products with NetEngage’s offer, gives operators like Africell an alternative to costly network overhauls and a means to help nations step up their digital transformations”.

Srikanth Rajarao, Business Development Manager at Squire Technologies.


To find out more about NetEngage, visit www.netengage.com

To learn more about Squire Technologies, visit www.squire-technologies.co.uk

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