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The beneficial Gambia-Taiwan relationship

Oct 12, 2011, 1:55 PM

The bilateral relationship between The Gambia and Republic of China (Taiwan) is being strengthening day by day, with both sides playing their rightful part.

As Taiwan marks 100 years of its national day, which was also celebrated in The Gambia in a grand style, we wish to congratulate our Taiwanese brothers and sisters on their achievements.

Unequivocally, The Gambia and Taiwan over the years have proven to be, and continue to be a sample of excellent bilateral ties.

This is manifested in the numerous forms of support being rendered to The Gambia by the Taiwanese government over the years.

The ROC has been one of the key donors to The Gambia, since resumption of diplomatic ties in 1995, in vital areas of our economy such as agriculture, health, education, defence, infrastructure development and information technology.

The permanent Taiwanese Technical Mission stationed in Sapu is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to boost the country’s food self-sufficiency drive. The mission, which also provides some of our local farmers with fertilizers, power tillers and seed nuts, is predicting a bumper harvest of rice this year.

In the area of health, Taiwan continues to support the sector with annual grant of $600,000 to Gambia’s health sector, provides equipment to health facilities, sends in mobile medical teams to provide free medical care to Gambians on a regular basis, and also has some health volunteers working at the RVTH, the country’s main referral hospital.

With regard to education, currently there are about 200 Gambian students studying at various universities and colleges in Taiwan, thanks to the generosity of the Taiwanese government.

As many as 100 others have already graduated from Taiwanese universities, and are now working for the Gambia government.

Annually, the ROC embassy also provides a $6000 scholarship package to the University of The Gambia to sponsor needy and deserving students.

An annual US$700,000 donation to the President’s Empowerment of Girls Education Project (PEGEP) has been forthcoming, and the list goes on.

The construction of Sifoe and Moyock senior secondary schools by the Taiwanese government also provides more Gambian students access to high school education in the West Coast Region.

On information technology, the donation of computers and ICT accessories to the National Assembly and other government departments is a boost to our Silicon Valley aspirations.

Most important, also, is Taiwan’s support to the Gambia Radio and Television Services satellite project.

Furthermore, the donation of patrol boats to the Gambia Navy and training of our military officers in military academies in Taiwan are all making an impact.

With these and many other interventions from Taiwan, the people of this country and government owe a debt of gratitude to the government and people of Taiwan, by all accounts.

On the other hand, The Gambia has also been very supportive of Taiwan in its quest to have more space in the international arena.

In fact, The Gambia’s chief diplomat has reassured Taiwan, during the centennial national day celebration in Banjul, of the country’s continuing support at the national, regional and international levels.

The Government of The Gambia has also been relentless in its call for a just treatment of the case of Taiwan by the international community.

Just recently, in the course of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, The Gambia offered it’s full and unwavering support for Taiwan to be a participant in the specialised agencies and mechanisms of the UN system.

With this kind of partnership, one can conclude that the two countries are indeed partners in progress.

However, we want to observe that the relationship could have been even much better and beneficial, if it goes beyond government level support.

We want to see Taiwan dealing with civil society organizations and grassroots community organizations, and give direct support to them in project implementation.

Also, we are calling for more private sector investment in the country’s economy by Taiwanese businessmen.