president of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has acknowledged that
persistent youth unemployment and underemployment carries very high economic
costs and threatens the very fabric upon which the society is built.
Muhammad Jagana was speaking on Wednesday at its 5th press briefing, which also witnessed the launching of forthcoming GCCI Trade Fair at its Kerr Jula in Bijilo. The event also accords the officials the opportunity to highlight the Chamber‘s agenda for 2018.
Jagana maintained that as the new government celebrates one year in existence, GCCI concludes celebrations marking its Golden Jubilee (1967 – 2017), 50 years anniversary.
The theme for this year’s event is “Economic Transformation for Gambian Business Empowerment”.
“Private Sector Development (PSD) is a strategy for promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in The Gambia. This is achieved by building private enterprises, membership organisations to represent them as in the case of Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), and competitive markets that are stronger and more inclusive. After participating in developing the Private Sector Development Strategy for The Gambia, GCCI continues to push for its implementation, as well as work diligently with our partners to advocate for a conducive environment for Gambian businesses”.
Earning a decent income in the private sector, he went on, is also more dignifying than relying on hand-outs. This, he added, also reflects the situation of the Gambian youths.
“Our young people represent the promise of changing our society for the better. Conversely, young people are facing serious barriers to access the labour market, some of them are not transitioning to decent work and are almost at the risk of social exclusion”..
He acknowledged that failure to generate sufficient private sector jobs can result in long-lasting “scarring” effects on our young people such as the “Back-way Syndrome”.
“We must all join hands to halt and reverse this trend. However, there is powerful reassertion of activism from young people who refuse to accept a future of unemployment, marginal work, and expensive poor-quality education. They range from Social Entrepreneurs to Trade Union leaders. This capacity of our youths to react positively deserves to be applauded”.
According to him, GCCI is working with partners such as YEP, and others to ensure that young entrepreneurs are supported in a big way at the upcoming trade.
This, according to him, would comprise pre-trade fair training, support for logistics etc. “We want to appeal to everyone to support youth enterprises by buying their products and utilizing their services.”
He noted that the private sector itself, through GCCI, is playing and will continue to play an important role in advocating for a better business environment.