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Senegal Ambassador Saliou Ndiaye speaks on Senegal-Gambia relations

Apr 13, 2015, 10:35 AM

His Excellency Ambassador Saliou Ndiaye was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, and it was in this small city that he went to Koranic school, primary school and secondary school before pursuing a higher education, first at the Université de Dakar, and then at the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud, in France, as an auditor, at the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises in Nancy (Business Administration Institute) and at the Université de Nancy II, where he defended two third-cycle doctoral theses and a doctorate degree in history, economics and in history of antiquity.

Along with his humanities studies, Mr Ndiaye pursued additional graduate studies in Business Administration and obtained, at the Université de Nancy II, a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées (DESS, equivalent to a postgraduate certificate (UK) or ABD (“All But Dissertation” - USA)) in Business Administration.

Tenured professor at the Exceptional Class level, at the School of Humanities of Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (aka Université de Dakar), Professor Saliou Ndiaye is a Romanism expert, specialising in conflict studies. He is also the author of 60-odd publications.

Professor Ndiaye has been visiting Professor at several universities around the world, including in France, America, Cuba, China, many countries in Asia and Africa.

Armed with a rich resume and other accolades, Prof Ndiaye granted The Point interview on his diplomatic mission to The Gambia, which reveals a lot about the relations between the two countries.

The following is an excerpt of the interview:

The Point: This year is Senegal’s 55th independence anniversary. What is your assessment of the occasion? And what can you say about the strength of the relations between Senegal and The Gambia?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: You are right to speak of the strength and excellent relations between Senegal and The Gambia. Indeed, these are certainly what should be in international relations between two sovereign States that are full members of the AU, ECOWAS, the United Nations, and many other international organizations whose relations are old, deep and specific.

In this regard, the Embassy of Senegal in Banjul continues to encourage these exchanges and the sharing of experiences, multiplying its contacts with the Gambian authorities in all areas.

But it is the geographical neighborhood, the historical and cultural factors, the strong interweaving of our two economies that make our particularly close and peaceful relations. Regular consultation is always maintained on all key issues as well as through cooperation commissions, Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat, and contacts at the highest level between authorities of the two countries.

Thus, the Senegalo-Gambian ties are developed through holding regular bilateral meetings at high level visits of parliamentarians, as well as during dialogues on bilateral and international issues. At the political level, specific bilateral nature contacts are frequent, such as at the last meetings between the Prime Minister and the Vice-President during the commemoration of the fifty years of independence of The Gambia and on February 21, 2015 the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the Trans-Gambian bridge.

The Point: What do you say of the model of integration between Senegal and The Gambia as a reference for the sub-region and the rest of the continent?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: Senegal-Gambia relations do not need to be illustrated by a strand of qualifiers. This is because this unique and singular relationship is not only characterised by exceptional human ties; it is also based on common values, shared languages and the same vision of the world.

The Point: How do you analyse the proximity and affinity between the two countries, The Gambia and Senegal?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: It is the same geographical neighborhood, historical and cultural background, strong interweaving of our two economies that make our particularly close and peaceful relations.

Senegal and The Gambia are united by strong ties knotted throughout history, with bonds that materialise by relationships of exceptional quality.

Senegal and The Gambia are two brotherly countries who share a history that has its roots in the depths of ages and which has created very dense human bonds. These two countries have managed to maintain their historical friendship until today while developing.

Today’s cooperation between the two countries shows great dynamism in all areas, and the cultural and human exchanges are booming for the well-being of the two peoples. You can recall that the Senegalese President Macky Sall, shortly after being elected, spent his first official visit in February 2013 in The Gambia, since our two countries are united by strong ties knotted throughout history, with links that materialize by relationships of exceptional quality as said earlier on.

Moreover, the second visit of the President of the Republic of Senegal Macky Sall, in Banjul on 10 October 2014, at the invitation of his Gambian counterpart, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, has also enhanced further the ties between our two countries. Senegalese Embassy in Banjul will continue to work, relying on the effort and creativity of all stakeholders of the Sene-Gambian friendship, to bring our bilateral cooperation to an even higher level. Furthermore, the dynamism of the Senegalese community in The Gambia on daily basis demonstrates our closeness with The Gambia.

The Point: Tell us a bit about the current state of relations between the two countries?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: The Prime Minister of Senegal, Mr Mohammad Boune Abdallah NDIONE said on February 21, 2015 that the relations between our two countries are developing in the context of the triptych of Peace-Security and Development, and also of our huge pool of shared values. As we all know, the continuous strengthening of the friendly relations between The Gambia and Senegal is a common aspiration of our two peoples, as history, geography, culture, language and way of thinking are all shared values between Gambians and Senegalese.

On the current state of our ties, our main objectives are to work for the strengthening of the excellent relations that exist between our two countries, to promote and protect the interests of Senegal and its citizens. This includes strengthening our political cooperation both at the bilateral level and in the field of multilateral diplomacy, mutually beneficial economic relations, cooperation in the fields of science and education as well as diverse cultural exchanges.

Senegal will continue to always work for good neighborliness, understanding and quest of general harmony. The High Commission will continue to work with the Gambian authorities to explore new fields and ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation to a new level, fraternal and friendly relations of cooperation between our two peoples.

The Point: As a senior lecturer (Professor) and former University Rector at the University of Cheikh Anta DIOP (UCAD), how do you foresee academic cooperation between Senegal and The Gambia?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: The academic cooperation between the two countries has a bright future and a huge potential that is not yet fully exploited. In this regard, I recall that when I was Rector of UCAD I decided and ensured that Gambian students pay the same rates for registration as their Senegalese brothers. This practice still persists.

In my opinion, we should facilitate and encourage between the two countries more mobility of not only researchers and lecturers but also students as an example of the excellent initiated relations between the University Gaston Berger of St Louis (Northern part of Senegal) and the University of The Gambia (UTG). We also need to develop common thematic issues as important as the integration, peace and security, protection of the environment, etc. This cooperation should be extended also to the institutes and colleges as private public training, taking into account the fact that Senegal has already five universities and several higher education schools and institutes offering high quality professional training.

The Point: Is the Senegalese-Gambian Permanent Secretariat a duplicate or value added diplomatic relations between the two countries?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: The Senegalese-Gambian Permanent Secretariat, this unique institution in the world by its very nature, is an illustration of the unique character of relations between our two countries. Thus, rather than being a duplicate as some might think, it brings a strong value addition to the enlargement and strengthening of the functional cooperation between the two countries.

It especially has the advantage of being equidistant, and manages important issues which are entrusted with a lot of pragmatism. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the important work done by Ambassador Doudou Salla Diop and his team.

The Point: We also follow our bilateral cooperation which is getting stronger especially in the military and infrastructure fields such as the Trans-Gambian Bridge.Is this a priority?

IH.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: t is a pleasure to note that for some time the military cooperation between the two countries is taking giant steps. It is a welcome move and we encourage it strongly since cross-border threats spare no region of the world and no state can face it alone. Therefore the strengthening of cooperation between our Armed Forces for the defence and security between our two countries will only increase security within our sub-region, as without peace and security there is no development.

The Point: How do you intend to improve the situation of the Senegalese community in Gambia?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: I work day and night, with the support of all my colleagues, in accordance with the strong statements by President Macky Sall, which give great relevance to supporting our fellow citizens abroad, especially those who live and work in The Gambia.

Fortunately, given the quality of the hospitality shown to them in this country, they do not have major difficulties.

On the other hand, assistance to our countrymen has multifaceted aspects and includes the issuance of various types of papers they need, to put at their disposal a number of information on their host country when they are coming into the country for the first time, for example, especially for those who want to invest or settle in The Gambia.

Similarly FAISE (Fund for Investment Assistance) you’ve heard about it, undoubtedly one of important pillars in this assistance, is designed to accompany our compatriots in their income-generating activities. It seeks in particular to promote the empowerment of women who constitute an important aspect in the Program Senegal Emergence (PSE) set up by the President of the Republic.

The Point: The Senegalese do not pay for residential permit in The Gambia; are there any other benefits for them?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: On this point I would like to reiterate the thanks and appreciation of the highest Senegalese authorities to the President of the Republic of The Gambia His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh and his Government, for this is more than fraternal and privileged treatment given to our compatriots. But this gesture is not a surprise to us; this is because the Senegalese people feel at home in The Gambia as Gambians feel at home in Senegal too. We are simply the Senegambian nation. Evidence is the ever-increasing number of marriages between children of the two countries.

The Point: Senegal has granted a rotating fund of fifty million CFA (50,000,000 FCFA) to the Senegalese community in The Gambia. What is the objective?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: Exactly as I said earlier, the objective of this revolving credit facility for women is to help them to start or enhance their income-generating activities to promote their economic empowerment. The balance sheet has allowed us to note that our sisters are working very well and pay on a regular basis even before deadlines to allow other groups to benefit in return from the fund. We also hope that with the known Senegalese high authorities’ generosity and understanding for their concern, in respect of women, this amount will be significantly increased in order to achieve maximum number of beneficiaries.

The Point: Why the focus on women?

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: A positive preference, Yes! Laughs! But ultimately supporting women to access economic growth and prosperity is also supporting men and easing family burden on them. Besides, our fellowmen have clearly understood and strongly supported their wives and sisters in the positive management of funds at their disposal without claiming projects for them. More will take place because they are not excluded from FAISE projects and the PSE in general?

The Point: On behalf of The Point newspaper, we thank you for your precious time and once again welcome to the smiling coast of West Africa, The Gambia.

H.E. Prof. S. Ndiaye: The pleasure is mine.