The just concluded Third National Economic Summit organised by the Gambian government together with other private sector stakeholders has emphasised the importance of developing the productive sectors of The Gambia’s economic base to accelerate growth and employment in the country. Gambia News Online filled in this report from the two-day discourse.
The Government of The Gambia, under the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, has held a national economic summit under the theme: 'Developing the productive sectors to accelerate growth and employment in The Gambia'.
The third economic summit was held in collaboration with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI), the UNDP, the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project (GCP) and the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The two-day summit, attended by development partners, senior government officials and representatives of NGOs discussed pertinent issues regarding the agricultural, insurance and the informal sectors of the economy.
The summit has been held at a time The Gambia government is pursuing a new socio-economic framework called Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) which, according to President Yahya Jammeh, focuses on "growth and employment".
At the summit, President Jammeh was represented by the vice president of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, who said the importance of productive capacities for economic growth and employment with consequential impacts on poverty reduction is evident in the development experience of developing countries which have managed to achieve sustained and substantial poverty reduction over the last 30 years.
“Various reports that analysed the nature and dynamics of poverty in the least developed countries (LDCs) have argued that the under-development of productive capacities is the missing link between the expanding international trade which many LDCs have achieved in recent years and the sustained poverty reduction which remain elusive in most of them,” the vice-president says.
“The overdependence on a few primary commodities for our export earnings is part of the reasons for the vulnerability and instability of the economies of most LDCs. Consequently, our economies remain fragile due to their excessive vulnerability to various shocks, and this could be arguably linked to our weak productive and supply capacities."
VP Njie-Saidy also called on the NGOs, the private sectors and other development partners, saying: "We must therefore come together to build a genuine partnership that would enable us to face the daunting challenges of socio-economic development."
While calling on Gambians to champion the development of the country, VP Njie-Saidy reiterated President Jammeh’s statement: "I must emphasise that the development of this country cannot be anchored on the benevolence of others. We must look within and make maximum use of our available resources - human, material and financial."
|Hon. Kolley Trade Minister|
In his remarks, Abdou Kolley, Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, said the outcome of the summit would serve as a tool for accelerating growth, reducing poverty and creating further employment.
He highlighted the positive outcome of the last economic summit held in 2003, saying eight years ago, the central themes of many fora was ‘availability’ of basic facilities such as electricity and telecommunications, but the focus now has been shifted to "affordability".
The president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) emphasised the importance of the agricultural, insurance and informal sectors, saying the three sectors play a vital role in the economy and key growth areas.
Bai Matarr Drammeh also says, relating to agriculture there are 49 LDCs with a population of more than 800 million people, who represented the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity and are at the very epicentre of development emergency.
International trade market opportunities are also changing, with growing integration of global agricultural supply chain and the emergence of large economies, he notes.
On insurance, the GCCI president says it is considered an infrastructural pillar of the financial services sector and the economy. "Insurance companies form a growing part of the domestic financial sector and closely linked with macroeconomic factors such as inflation, currency, controls, and the national income.”
Speaking further, Mr Drammeh said insurance improves people’s quality of life and increases social stability by way of individual health and life insurance, pension funds and workers compensation.