A total of more than 10 companies in Belgium have shown interest in coming to The Gambia for investment and trade, two Belgian firms have confirmed.
“About 10 to 20 companies in Belgium have shown interest in coming to The Gambia for investment and trade,” said Thomas De Beule, chief executive officer of C&M, a corporate and management firm in Belgium.
Delegates from these companies are due in The Gambia from 4 to 8 November, this year, to have direct discussions with the relevant government ministries and with the businesses they may want to enter into joint ventures and corporation with.
The Belgian companies showed interest in The Gambia during a road show to expose the trade and investment potentials in The Gambia organised by C&M in partnership with A-Law, an international Belgian law firm with speciality in international trade and investment.
Patricia Leers, managing partner at A-Law, said most of the companies are interested in areas and sectors such as machinery and food processing, and energy supply including waste energy system.
A lot of other companies, she said, are also interested in automobile, health sector particularly cancer treatment, packaging, construction particularly bridge construction and industrial complexes, telecoms including software development and internet service provision, and logistics.
Mr De Beule and Mrs Leers were in The Gambia to discuss the new interest in the country with government relevant ministries and departments as well as the business community, including the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), and the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).
On Friday, at the end of their weeklong mission, the Belgians, together with GIEPA, organised a press briefing at GIEPA House at Kairaba Avenue.
“We are here now for one week with a lot of questions from companies in Belgium,” said Mr De Buele said. “We have been meeting with several ministers to find out what are their policies, what are the key projects that they are working on so that we can align that with the interest of the companies that express interest in coming to The Gambia.”
He said on 6 September, this year, they would hold an information session in Antwerp with the Belgian companies that have shown interest in The Gambia.
“The session is to give the interested companies an overview of what we have learned this week from the ministers so that when they come to The Gambia in November, they will already know what are the policies and key projects of the government,” he said.
Mrs Leers of A-Law said when investors look for new market, the first things they look out for is the business and investment laws in the country.
“It is about legal security and The Gambia has a very open investment policy and that is absolutely great,” she said, adding that A-Law has a good knowledge of the relevant laws in The Gambia for it has set up a Gambia desk headed by a Gambian lawyer in Belgium.
“We are probably the first Belgian law firm with a Gambia desk,” he said. “The next step of our development plan for The Gambia is to also create a European legal desk to narrow the bridge with regards to the legal aspects for European businesses coming to The Gambia and Gambians looking at the European market. We always look to both directions.”
Assan Faal, chief executive officer of GIEPA, said with the fall of former President Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia now has a political environment that is favourable for investors.
“Many investors were not sure about the political environment in The Gambia but now that we have democracy, we need the world to know that through such events like the one to be held in November when the Belgian companies are in Gambia,” he said.
“If you have 10 companies or 20 companies or even 5, those companies when they go back, they talk about you, they talk to their partners, their colleagues, and associates and at networking places; so they expose you.
“So we should seize every of such opportunity and expose The Gambia to the world because that creates awareness and attracts people to The Gambia and that is what we want, we want to open this economy, this country to investors.”
Assan Gaye of the Ministry of Trade said The Gambia government would continue to provide favourable investment climate for all investors to come in and invest to make The Gambia an export economy.
“The government will continue to make sure that The Gambia becomes a very favourable destination for investment and our policies will continue to guide and protect investors wherever they may come from.”