National Data Centre
Model: Operating Concession
While the scoping of the National Data Centre is still ongoing, there is a strong commitment on the part of the public stakeholders to implement the project as PPP. A project preparation group has been set up, in which the PPP Directorate is represented. The completion of the feasibility study is awaited for this project to be fully ready for PPP implementation.
The telecommunications sector in The Gambia is largely private. More than 85% of active telephone subscribers are served by private companies. The state-owned operator GAMTEL is responsible for the fixed line infrastructure, including the backbone network. In the provision of the basic telecommunication infrastructure a first PPP is already operational. The private mobile telephone operators and internet service providers have established a joint venture with the Government of The Gambia and the state-owned operator GAMTEL/GAMCEL to participate in the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) fiber-cable project. The private sector holds 51% of the shares of the special purpose vehicle that has been established for the project (Gambia Submarine Cable company).
In May 2014 the African Development Bank (AfDB) conducted a scoping mission with respect to the development of a National Data Center (NDC) under a PPP. The findings of the mission are reported in an Aide Memoire.
The project involves the development of a tier 3 or 4 data center.It is claimed that there is large demand for managed data services both in the public and private sector. Today these potential users must call upon foreign service providers. The demand from government agencies is expected to represent 40% of the future demand of the data center. The remaining 60% of demand must be found in the private sector. However, no user survey has so far been carried out.
A first phase of the development of the NDC is the establishment of an in-house mini datacentre by combining the existing data infrastructure within the government. The mini data centre is intended to for the needs of the public sector and will be funded by the World Bank.
The AfDB has agreed to fund the preparatory studies of the NDC. An action plan is presented in the Aide Memoire. The action plan will be managed by a project preparation group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MoICI) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA). The first step is the engagement of aconsultant for the execution of a feasibility study, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015. The PPP structure will be determined in consultation by the PPP Directorate and other key stakeholders. MoICI is currently waiting for guidelines from AfDB on the set-up of the project preparation group (initially planned for June 2014, but delayed).
The scoping mission also identified a number of potential projects that can be built upon the NDC.
They include among other:
- Connectivity of Basic Schools and Secondary Schools;
- Connectivity of hospitals and health centers;
- Science and Technology Innovation Park;
- SME Technology Adoption and Business Incubation project.
In principle PPP is a suitable instrument for the implementation of the NDC. The private sector can more easily mobilize the required technical and commercial expertise, and a large share of the demand is expected to come from private users. However, the latter assumption has not yet been verified by a user survey.
An action plan for the development of the NDC has been set up. The action plan includes the development of a PPP structure to finance and implement the project. MoFEA and the PPP Directorate have been explicitly invited to participate in the project preparation group. Whether this process will result in the actual launching of a PPP project will depend on the outcome of the feasibility studies.
The next step in the development of the NDC as a PPP is the establishment of the project preparation group. MoFEA and PPP Directorate must appoint representatives to this group.