Transforming Gambia’s economy

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A sub-regional stakeholders’ meeting of the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Africa (CIFAA) that kicked off yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel highlighted very important issues as regards transforming Africa and her states’ economies, which includes The Gambia. 

Although the three-day meeting, organised by the Gambia Government in partnership with FAO, discussed the development and management of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa, issues on how The Gambia and Africa should transform itself from poverty and dependency to growth and development were also seriously touched on, especially from the perspective of the African Development Bank’s representative.

The Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department of the African Development Bank disclosed in his statement that the bank, to achieve the development goals in Africa, in its own wisdom, has identified five priority areas  through which the unfortunate state of Africa can be transformed for the better.

It prioritizes electricity for Africa, feeding, industrialization, integration and better standard of living, hence coined these priorities as: “Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for people of Africa”.

We would like to commend the bank for recognizing the important aspects about transforming the poor condition of Africa. However such fine objectives to help African countries out of the abyss of poverty and hardship are not new to the cause of emancipating African countries from the shackles of poverty and degradation.  A lot of blueprints such as the MDGs, NEPAD, ECOSOC, YEP and others from international bodies have been advanced to tackle Africa’s myriad of socio-economic challenges but these have not really done much for the continent. 

However it looks like we seem to know all the answers to our problems in Africa but we find it very difficult to apply them for our own good.

These can also be detected in the statement of our trade minister in The Gambia, who outlined strategic solutions to our economic woes and social challenges in The Gambia but it remains to be seen whether her government will be able to achieve such transformation in the country.

In her remarks at the GIEPA International Agriculture Investment Forum held yesterday, she said the government’s strategic objective is to transform the national economy from a net-importing economy to a net-exporter whilst ensuring food self-sufficiency and affordable food prices.

“This far-reaching objective”, she also stated, “cannot be achieved in the absence of the much-required investments in technology, trade and quality infrastructure, post-harvest management, partnership building, and access to markets for integration into the global value chain.”

We would therefore like to say this is the biggest test for the present government and dispensation – to bring about the much-required investments in the sectors highlighted by the trade minister, in order to transform The Gambia’s economy. Until that is seen to be done, such fine remarks and workshops can only be described as ‘talkshops’. We therefore hope for the better.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. ”

Socrates