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OPINION: “ Is Development sustainable after Jammeh’s 22 Years of Rule”

Dec 16, 2019, 12:56 PM

The issue of development and Sustainable Development is an issue which occupies a centre stage in every country’s development agenda. However, Gambia’s national development dates back to decades when Gambia had her Independence in 1965 but Gambia’s Socio-Economic development became more meaningful in the dawn of the Millennium when our Country started acquiring national assets it never had before. Although, the Late Ex-President Jawara is the architect of our development but all what he couldn’t achieve during his rule got achieved by Ex- President Jammeh. In the same way, we can say that the incumbent President Barrow has also laid a strong foundation to re-build, re-strengthen, and redirect our Economy towards a trajectory of Economic Growth his Government wants to consolidate and make Sustainable overtime as expected of him. So far one can say that President Barrow’s Government involvement in prolific economic activities and investments has indeed propelled our Economic Growth to levels we want it reach and is being sustained by his Government and there is really Sustainable Development taking place Countrywide.

At this juncture let me cite some key Projects initiated by the Barrow Administration; projects of which are pro-economic growth projects which has the impetus to equally bring about development and by extension pave way for Sustainable Development to take place. Such projects I have in mind include:

  i. The Upgrading and Construction of Roads and Bridges across The Gambia.

ii. The Launching of the Rural Electrification Extension Project- REEP.

iii. Construction of More Schools and Hospitals across The Gambia.

iv. The upgrading of the University of The Gambia in terms of Infrastructure, Capacity and Academic Status.

v. The Enhancement of the level of Human Resource Development through Training in Tertiary Institutions based in The Gambia and abroad.

The outlined Projects cited above and many others are good examples of projects which help Gambia maintain the momentum as far as development and Sustainable Development are both concerned. However, the Barrow Led Administration should be applauded for such projects it initiates and I must say is a step in the right direction since such projects will help induce economic growth and if the realized Economic Growth Gambia attains amounting to D86.7 Billion in 2019 get translated into human development; in this case we expect development take place and become sustainable. Also, we must bear in mind that the more Government creates projects that are pro-growth leading to peoples’ increase access to Social amenities, Social Services, and Food Security the more development becomes sustainable (i.e Sustainable development must prevail). This achieved sustainable development is what the Barrow Government must endeavour  to sustain if it wants Gambian Electorates vote for his eminent party he is about to establish come year 2020. I am certain that He Barrow the incumbent President will continue to have the support of all development-oriented Gambians if his Government capacity to create and sustain development becomes all the more stronger than before.

 On the other side of the same coin, we must look at the set of measures The Gambia Government must take if it wants development become increasingly sustainable. These set of measures I have in mind are macroeconomic measures that need to be taken in a bid to achieve not only Sustainable Development but as well make Jammeh’s Vision 2020 Dream be not hundred percent accomplished but it can be partly accomplished in the 2020 Fiscal Year; a year in which Gambia is expected to achieve an unprecedented economic growth of 13.4% ~ 13% i.e is forecasted to register a GDP at Market Price of D98.3 Billion in 2020. To this end, I really deem it fit to advice the Central Government adopt the following set of policy measures aimed at correcting some of the ills of our Economy and by extension help underpin the set National Development Goals His Government sets as its Economic Development Goals. The measures to adopt are:

i. Real Sector Investments should be up-scaled countrywide. In so doing, this will induce growth in output of goods since the Real Sector constitutes the productive-base of the Economy.

ii. The budgetary allocation for Education should be increased so that more Schools and Training Institutions should be built in the newly established Communities both in the rural and urban areas. This budgetary allocation for Education should also be spent on Capacity Building of Human Resources we have in the Education Sector.

iii. The budgetary allocation for Health should also be increased so that there will be a deepen dispensation of Health Services in all communities across The Gambia. This is important because of the adage that states “A Healthy Nation is a Prosperous Nation”.

iv. There is the need to equally increase the budgetary allocation for Defense and for Law Enforcement so that peoples’ lives, properties and personality will be protected at all times. This is also a necessity since “No Nation can develop without peace and stability in their society”.

v. The scale and size of agricultural production should be increased considerably so that agricultural output and in particular output in terms of food production will be increased which will in turn help ensure food security in every community across The Gambia.

vi. Greater penetration is required in as much as dispensation of Energy and Utility Services in rural areas and peri-urban areas are concerned.

vii. More Communication and Transportation Infrastructures need to be built across The Gambia so that such Socio-economic infrastructures will help underpin economic development in The Gambia.

Thus, one can see that if some of the consumption expenditures and development expenditures are significantly increased in subsequent Fiscal Years mainly on investments and on certain economic activities without doubt there will be increased economic growth in leaps and bounds which will be quite unprecedented as well.

However, if the aforementioned outlined policy measures are adopted and well implemented it will put our economy on a pedestal to enhance economic growth which goes along with greater poverty alleviation and poverty eradication which The Gambia yearns to register head on. Vis-à-vis, if such policy measures coupled with plans we have under the “National Development Plan” are collectively implemented it will certainly put Gambia on its right course to achieve our biggest dream that is to transform The Gambia into a “Middle - Income -Country” by year 2020 as stated in our Blueprint Vision 2020 Document which was framed by the then APRC Government.

To conclude this write up, it goes without saying that the Barrow Administration from the look of things has induced Economic Growth reaching at least 6% in 2019 and is expected to increase significantly from 6% in 2019 to 13% in 2020 respectively. Such high level of Economic Development if maintained and adequately translated into Human Development will without doubt make Sustainable Development be more beneficial and rewarding to Gambians and Non-Gambian residing in The Gambia as benefits of development trickles down to them in no small measure.

Author – Mr. Abdou .E. Cham  (Teacher). St. Augustine’s Senior Secondary School – Banjul.