GPA inks MOU to boost river transport trade

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CPCS Ventures/Infraco on River Gambia’s Revitalisation pre-feasibility project held at a local hotel in Banjul.

The MOU was designed to enhance the potential of The Gambia to continue to serve as a center for trade and excellence.

The MOU was attended by various government officials, representatives from the private sector, a representative from Gambia Revenue Authority and British High Commissioner to The Gambia among scores of senior government officials.

GPA’s managing director, Ousman Jobarteh, said the timeliness of the engagement is ideal, against the backdrop of government’s resolve to revitalise river transport to enhance trade facilitation as well as boost the country’s potential to serve as vital loop in the trade linking the wider West African market.

According to Mr. Jobarteh this strategy is well articulated in the National Development Plan 2018-2021 in which the development of transport infrastructure constitutes one of the 8 strategic priorities. Equally, river transport has been identified as one of the most cost effective for the movement of high volume cargo as contained in the country’s National Transport Policy 2017-2028, formulated by the Ministry of Transport

He added that global maritime transport also continues to experience unprecedented changes, which poses increasing demands for ports and logistics services providers to improve performance and lower overall costs along the whole value chain. As a country, The Gambia cannot be left out in this phenomenon, noting the competitive advantage the country possesses in terms of attractiveness to serve as a distribution hub for the wider West Africa market.

According to GPA boss, these challenges offer an opportunity to implement reforms aimed at harnessing the potential of the country to increase its market penetration to the West and Central African regions due to the advantages of the navigability of the River up to 400 km inland.

He told the delegates that the maritime sub-sector is quite dominant in The Gambia with the Port of Banjul playing an important role in the country’s trade-oriented economy. Re-export activities are a cornerstone of the Gambian economy, accounting for about 15 per cent of GDP, 20 per cent of fiscal revenue, and 85 per cent of all exports.

He also mentioned that the country has traditionally been a large supplier of re-exported foreign-manufactured goods (textiles, vehicles, rice, sugar, tea, construction materials and other consumer goods) to countries in the sub-region such as Guinea, Guinea–Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal.

As part of the trade facilitation initiatives, the government’s strategy is to position the country as a transit hub, which hinges on development of river transport to complement the port services and improve the logistics and transport chain.

Historical records show that River Gambia was the backbone of the Gambian transport system, thus providing vibrant impetus for national socio economic development. The river was used extensively; with regular ship movements to the inland port of Kaur, 193 km upstream up to and including Basse, 400 km from Banjul.

Other speakers include Peter Hutchinson, CEO, Infraco and British High Commissioner to The Gambia, who all assured to support the project.

Author: Abdoulie Nyockeh