Blocking Skype, Viber, ‘unacceptable, outrageous’

As Gambia government moves to block these services due to “revenue loss”

By Sanna Camara

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Following the media release yesterday prohibiting companies and/or individuals operating through Internet Cafes and offering Dating services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services as a commercially available service to the public in The Gambia, citizens are reacting describing it “outrageous”, “unacceptable”.

Musa Barrow, a resident of Kotu said the move is, “totally unacceptable that PURA is coming up with this strange move. This goes against th interest of ordinary Gambians. Personally, I want to make calls but I don’t have the means. So I turn to services such as

Mr. Barrow said the government should reverse their decision because he thinks “it is against the interest of ordinary people”.

A Guinean shopkeeper at Bakoteh Layout, who claims he was saving to buy a laptop to send to his family in Guinea for Skype communication soon, said:

“I couldn’t believe it…”

“I couldn’t believe it at first. It costs me money to buy credit for my phone each time I make a call to my family in Guinea. I connect better with my family through Skype, since I can see everyone on video call aside from hearing their voices. In fact, Skype calls are usually better than phone calls.”

Dembo Jatta, a landlord in Latri Kunda, also said this is “outrageous”. How can the government in engage in such a move against its citizens?”

“The decision is anti-competition and out of step,” Baboucarr Ceesay, a civil society activist told Gambia Beat.

Consumer parliament before taking such decision

Ceesay said he wonders why the utilities regulatory authority hasn’t organized a consumer parliament to know the views of consumers before taking such decision. “It is neither logical, nor reasonable to base their decision on certain telecommunication or GSM companies,” he aadded.

Below is the full text of the PURA press release:

“The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) wishes to inform the general public that it has come to its notice that there are companies and/or individuals operating through Internet Cafes and offering Dating services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services as a commercially available service to the public in The Gambia.  Therefore, all are hereby informed that such practices are not authorized.

Furthermore, PURA wishes to make it abundantly clear that the offering of “International and National Calling Services” within Internet Cafes using VoIP services (Viber, Skype, etc) is strictly prohibited.  Anyone who is engaged in this activity is depriving the country of the much needed revenue from International and National calls, required for the development of The Gambia.

PURA would like to warn anybody involved in either of the above activities to immediately desist from doing so.

In a bid to protect our national interest, PURA is urging the general public to be vigilant with regards to the above, and to report any suspicious activities to PURA by calling 148 free on all networks, between 8.30am to 6.00pm (Mondays to Thursdays).”

  

 

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