Jan 22, 2020, 1:11 PM
President Yahya Jammeh last Thursday laid the foundation stone for a multi-billion dollar ‘21st Century Gambia Project’ in Bijilo, which according to him will directly or indirectly create close to 10, 000 jobs for Gambians.
The project by the Qatar-Gambia International Group, is said to be the biggest ever public-private investment in the entire history of The Gambia and the biggest single investment in the entire Gambian tourism and hospitality industry, bigger than all the investments in the tourism sector put together from 1965 to date.
It is also said to have come at a time when efforts are being mounted by the government to rekindle the tourism sector so as to increase its impact, as well as its added relevance to The Gambia’s socio-economic and cultural development in the 21st century.
When completed, the project is expected to build a hotel complex with 500 rooms, villas, conference centers, a modern shopping mall of a hundred thousand square meters of retail area, 16 residential towers with two thousand four hundred apartments, five of its towers with 800 offices, a modern hospital of over thirty-six thousand square meters of area, and two mosques, among others.
In his launching statement, President Jammeh said the implementation of the project will go a long way towards uplifting The Gambia’s tourism sector to a new and ultra modern pedestal that would change positively the country’s urban landscape.
“Once completed, The Gambia would no doubt become one of, if not, the world’s most attractive and safest growing tourist destinations for all classes of tourists and visitors, including the high-spending top brass tourists from all over the world,” he said.
According to the Gambian leader, the timing of the project is also “another big and pleasant assurance to all of us that we are on course to introduce new multi-faceted products and services that would go a long way towards enhancing The Gambia’s competitiveness in the world upmarket tourists”.
In his view, the occasion was significant not only because a history of a highly valued partnership is in the making between the Gambia government and the state of Qatar, and investors from the Gulf, but was also clear testimony of the great importance that his government attaches and will continue to attach to the development of the country’s tourism industry.
To ensure the environmental sustainability of the project, Jammeh added, care has been taken to dovetail the design concept with the existing vegetation cover and the preservation of the country’s fauna and flora.
“As in every such project, my Government will always ensure that development today would not compromise the future’s resource endowments,” he added.
President Jammeh urged Gambian youths not to sell their pride by venturing into dangerous waters in search of greener pastures, stating that “pastures are being made greener by the day, and the ‘21st Century Gambia Project’ is one very bright example”.
He also urged Gambians to brace up for the task of nation-building, particularly in light of the accelerated countdown to the 2015 MDGs and Vision 2020 timelines, stressing that his government would never relent in its efforts to bring, to all Gambians, the added avenues and opportunities, as well as the safe and conducive environment needed to empower the people and promote better and sustained conditions of living for all.
Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, minister of Tourism and Culture, speaking on the occasion said the laying of the foundation stone of the “21st Century Gambia Project” was yet another manifestation of the commitment of the Gambia government to provide the needed impetus for the advancement of tourism in The Gambia.
“This new project will undoubtedly add significant value to The Gambia’s tourism, and could not have come at a more opportune moment than now when new approaches towards attaining our tourism goals are being unleashed with a view to bringing vibrancy and transformational development in the tourism sector,” Minister Jobe-Njie added.
Other speakers at the occasion included Ansumana Jammeh, Gambia’s ambassador to Qatar, Yyad Charchar, a project consultant, Fatoumata Diop, general manager DOOZI Group and Awad-Moh-Khair Himady, legal adviser to a Saudi Arabia prince.