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Empretec-Gambia chair challenges GIEPA to be job creators

Nov 3, 2014, 4:49 PM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

(Friday, 31 October 2014 Issue)
Abdoulie ‘Baks’ Touray, Chairman of the Project Steering Committee of Empretec-Gambia, has challenged the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) to be employment and job creators for Gambian youths.

Mr Touray made this call yesterday at the GIEPA office during the official handing over of two vehicles by the UNDP to Empretec-Gambia to ease mobility for the successful implementation of the project.

“We heartily welcome the project,” he said, adding that Empretec stands for the creation and development of entrepreneurs.

Mr Touray, a development economist, said they are being empowered by stakeholders particularly the UNDP and Gambia government.

“We want this project to be results-driven and not process-driven,” he went on, adding that their mandate is to create jobs.

“Economics is all about having 3As and 3Es. If goods and services are available, accessible and affordable then you are a developed country.”

“To get 3As, we have to have 3Es, which is, we must create entrepreneurs then the entrepreneurs create employment and employment creates exports.”

GIEPA has been empowered, he noted, adding that they have some of the best and brightest workers, as they also operate under the guidance of the Ministry of Trade and by extension the Gambia government.

They now have new vehicles to execute their mandate and, as the project steering committee, “we are supposed to be the drivers of the project, and we are challenging GIEPA that we want, as expected, for them to create employment and jobs”, he added.

“We have a youth dividend in this country with the majority of the youth population under the age of 25years,”he pointed out.

“The youths need to be empowered, and the only way to do that is to have a paradigm shift whereby we stop the youth from looking for employment and becoming job creators; because when we create jobs the dependency ratio, which is 1 to 15, will reduce.”

The target of the project is to create within the project cycle at least 5,000 entrepreneurs, he announced, adding that considering the dependency ratio, this could yield a minimum of 300,000 jobs.

In her remarks on the occasion, the UN Resident Representative in The Gambia, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, said the project commenced in August but they started developing it last year, following a visit by the Vice President and her team to Ethiopia where they saw a similar project, came back and approached the UNDP to support Empretec in The Gambia.

“Today we are providing these two vehicles basically to enable the project team to ensure that the benefits of the project extend to every part of The Gambia,” she added.

They have conducted training exercises in Banjul and other regions and would continue to conduct such training courses, she continued.

“The trainees have embraced the training and have reported a lot of changes it is making to their lives, and we are happy with that,” she went on, adding that they hoped the project would build a strong foothold for private sector activities, particularly among youths and women in The Gambia.

Naffie Barry, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said the collaboration with the UNDP “is a very successful one”, and prayed that it continued.

“UNDP and government have had good collaboration because whatever we need in terms of development in the country UNDP has supported us,” she declared.

On behalf of the government and GIEPA, she thanked UNDP and assured the UN agency that “the vehicles will be put to good use.”

Musa Bah, GIEPA officer in charge, who chaired the ceremony, said they were honoured to have the support of all stakeholders, especially the Gambia government through the Ministry of Trade.

Significant progress has been registered so far, Bah added, and hoped with the guidance and the expertise of key stakeholders of the project they would, for the first six months, register progress that would guarantee them going into a three-year project.