Feb 6, 2009, 5:03 AM
As part of activities marking the anniversary of the 22nd July Revolution, President Yahya Jammeh Tuesday laid the foundation stone for a new office for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Banjul.
Funded with Moroccan government aid to the tune of US$900,000 for the feasibility studies and other major construction works, the project will be a three-storey building complex when completed.
According to officials, it will house all the facilities needed for a modern Foreign Ministry headquarters, and will be at par with the ministry of foreign affairs of developed countries.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Yahya Jammeh said considering the important role and functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and being the first point of contact between the people and governments from outside our borders and shores, it goes without saying that such a place should be one not only suitable enough to gain the confidence of those we engage, but also good enough to safeguard the dignity and respect of our country and its people.
“In my quest for the transformation of the capital city of Banjul, which is among my national development aspirations, it has become apparent that some of the infrastructures housing key institutions of the state will have to be modernized, given that they have aged with time and most of them are in Banjul,” he stated.
Therefore, he went on, from Arch 22 to the new National Assembly building under construction is the beginning of a whole transformation process, which will eventually make Banjul a landmark city not only in the sub-region, but also on the entire African continent.
The Gambian leader commended and expressed appreciation to the Moroccan government for approving the funding and providing technical expertise for the project.
This, he added, is a clear manifestation of the excellent and strong bonds of friendship, brotherhood, and cooperation that happily exist between Gambia and Morocco.
Mambury Njie, minister of Foreign Affairs, said the new headquarters will create a conducive working environment for them to effectively and efficiently execute their responsibilities and functions.
While acknowledging that the construction of an ultra-modern building is a necessity in portraying a positive image of the foreign ministry in Banjul, Njie said one should not lose sight of the fact that the availability of qualified and sufficient personnel to steer the affairs of the ministry is crucial.
“Government would therefore continue her efforts in providing capacity building opportunities to improve the competence of both the staff of our Foreign Service Headquarters and our diplomatic missions abroad,” he said.
According to him, since the advent of the second republic in July 1994, the Government of The Gambia has continued to pursue a very dynamic and development-oriented foreign policy agenda.
Also speaking at the ceremony was the Moroccan ambassador to The Gambia, Taleb Barrada, who said with the good efforts of the Gambian leader and within the framework of the excellent relationship between The Gambia and Morocco, the Moroccan government has decided to construct the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters for 8 million Dirham which is equivalent to US$900,000.