Jul 29, 2008, 11:15 AM
The three-day African Growth through Technology Summit in The Gambia, which got under way at the Kairaba Beach Hotel Wednesday, heard a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony by Abdou Kolley Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment.
“We hope that this summit will be an inspiration to all, and that the experts gathered here will share their knowledge and expertise, and encourage Gambians and Africans to lead the way to a brighter economic future for their people through ICT.”
There is “a serene competitive environment in The Gambia’s ICT sector, which has created a wide range of employment opportunities for citizens of the country.
“The Gambia Government, being aware of the sector’s ability to transform its economy, strategically placed itself on the right side of the ICT history, by unbundling vital areas of the ICT sector and allowing healthy competition.
“This has created a wide range of employment opportunities, especially in the technical fields thereby building our human resource base, and providing citizens a wider choice”, declared the minister, who has “employment” as one of his portfolios.
Reporters invited to cover the event also heard from the CEO InSIST Global, one of the organisers, who also announced: “The goal of this summit is to create an annual forum where we look at African-led innovation in ICT to solve African problems for sustainable economic growth.
“We have worked to bring together industry experts from academia, government and thriving businesses in Africa to ask and, hopefully, answer how we can leverage ICT to create jobs and build our economy”.
This speaker also declared: “While countries must look at food security and infrastructure as a critical component of development, it is also important that we look to the future and begin to answer an important question – How do we harness ICT to build business and create jobs?”
The focus on the job-creation potentials of the ICT sector, especially for young people, is pertinent.
We remind ourselves of the many jobs created by opening up the sector to new operators, as mobile phone companies and Internet service providers.
The many internet café operators and the mobile phones sales and repair/unlock outlets have also created dignified job opportunities for young people, employed to run the businesses.
Definitely, much-needed employment opportunities for youths in this country have become available.
To ensure that this is sustained, we must have policies and regulations in place for the ICT sector, which encourage investment to create more jobs, particularly for our youths.
"Government’s role should be only to keep the playing field level, and to work hand in hand with business on issues such as employment. But beyond this, to as great an extent as possible, it should get out of the way."