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Minister aware of hurdles ahead as National Export Strategy due soon

Jan 20, 2011, 11:19 AM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The Minister of Economic Planning and Industrial Development, Mambury Njie, has told stakeholders at a meeting on the development of the Gambia National Export Strategy that he is aware of the hurdles to be faced.

However, an advantage of being underdeveloped has availed the Gambia the benefit of late industrialisation, where a variety of technology is at the its disposal, he added.

“We only need to access them to close the industrial divide at a faster rate,” Minister Njie, whose statement was read on his behalf by Mod A Secka, permanent secretary at the ministry, said yesterday at the opening of the two-day meeting funded and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

The meeting will allow stakeholders to develop a national export strategy, which if approved will be launched soon.

The only challenge, according to the minister, is how to access this technology and properly coordinate it with the human resource base.

“This is where an industrial strategy plays a pivotal role, by identifying growth levers and needed approaches to bring the desired national development objectives,” he said.

According to him, we need to make full use of the available technology and, as an agrarian economy at moment, the necessity of a widespread promotion of agro-industry cannot be over emphasised.

He further stated that the strategy document is expected to provide a more focused direction in the country’s national industrial efforts, as well as enhance the country’s export competitiveness and performance.

“As a least developed country, The Gambia faces various challenges towards her aspirations to develop, especially in the current highly globalised and competitive world that we live in today. The international market is highly demanding, which requires focus and preparedness in order to get a share of the global market,” he also noted.

Therefore, he went on, with the development of a national export strategy that gives guidance, we will be better equipped to identify key growth levers and harness concerted efforts towards fully exploiting identified intervention areas, which will address constraints that are hindering the realisation of untapped potential in our industrialisation efforts.

Isaac Njoroge, adviser (trade) at the Special Advisory Services Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, who is developing the Gambia’s national export strategy, underscored the importance of such a national document. He stated that the Commonwealth Secretariat’s second strategic goal is to support pro-poor policies for economic growth and sustainable development in member countries.

“This will enable our member countries to participate more effectively in the international trading system. More countries are endowed with abundant natural resources, and yet continue relying on a narrow range of export products,” Isaac who helped 11 countries in developing their national export strategy document said.

He is of the belief that exports, in any form, contribute immensely towards the country’s economic development.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), Fatou Mbenga-Jallow, who chaired the session, said that before the establishment of GIEPA, there was no government institution tasked with the development of exports in The Gambia.

“GIEPA is a key demonstration of the recognition and high priority that the government of the Gambia places on the improvement of the country’s export performance and national competitiveness. We see the development of exports as a powerful driver of growth and wealth creation,” she added.

Participants are expected to wind up deliberations today, which is also expected to give birth to the new national export strategy document for The Gambia.