‘OIC summit deferment is in Gambia’s interest’

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Deferring the hosting of the 2019 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit to 2022 is in the interest of the country because the objective of the secretariat is to boost the Gambia’s Public Infrastructure portfolio by using the summit as an anchor to National Development, says Lamin J.K. Sanneh, chief executive officer of The Gambia OIC Secretariat.

Speaking at a press conference held at The Gambia OIC Secretariat at Petroleum House in Brusubi yesterday, Mr. Sanneh said they also wanted to rebrand and re position The Gambia as a conference destination in the sub-region.

He remarked that they will not be rushed into hosting a summit that will taint the image of the country. 

“The construction of the new conference center and the rehabilitation of the airport position The Gambia to be a premier meeting, international conferences and events destination,” he stated, saying it will diversify the existing tourism product which relies on seasonal tourists’ visits.

He noted that a draft MOU between The Gambia government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the implementation of a 100km road, VIP lounge at the Banjul International Airport, enhanced water production, transmission and distribution within the OIC concentrated areas, as well as enhanced electricity transmission and distribution within the OIC concentrated areas have been signed.

He added that separate negotiations are underway with the Saudi Investment Authority for the funding of the 5-Star hotel.

He announced that the deferment of the summit is the result of non-completion of infrastructures, saying that the objective of the secretariat is to support government to improve the infrastructure of the nation.

For people who might be affected by road expansion, he said development comes with some level of cost but was quick to add that they will do their best to minimise the impact.

“The objective of the government is not to disadvantage citizens even though some encroached into the 40 meter road reserve buffer,” CEO Sanneh said.

“Counties have already pledged to support The Gambia and we are now making follow ups, we are better equipped today compared with where we stated last year.”

He said the cost of operation for the secretariat per annum is 600 thousand dollars which includes resource mobilisation and official travels as well as security personnel trainings, cost of the road expansion 100 million dollars, 10.5 million dollars for the airport VIP lounge, 10 million dollars for electricity, and 2.5 million dollars for water.

However, he said source of funding for the office is from Saudi Arabia government, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and IDB. The cost of running the office is zero cost to Gambia government.

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb
Source: Picture: The Gambia OIC Secretariat CEO Lamin J.K. Sanneh