Feb 19, 2009, 4:59 AM
The Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Isatou Njie Saidy, Saturday opened the fifth edition of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Trade Fair at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
The trade fair, which forms part of the chamber’s drive to be the pacesetter in promoting Gambian businesses, will run up to the 18th of December, and is on the theme: “Made in The Gambia Products and Services,” a move geared towards raising public awareness of Gambian-produced goods and services, as well as highlight the need for Gambians to consume Gambian products and services as a matter of choice.
Aimed at creating external networks, enhance the productive base of small and medium-scale enterprises, create a more visible service sector and open doors for formal financing, the event brought together investors from Africa, Asia and Europe.
It is expected to provide the platform for businesses to showcase their products, and also stimulate public interest in Gambian products.
The trade fair also seeks to reposition the country as a centre of service excellence by developing a highly committed organisation oriented to serving the needs of its members, and to building effective partnerships that will positively impact development of the private sector towards sustainable development, thereby being relevant, responsive and representative of the business community.
Declaring the trade fair open, Vice President Njie-Saidy said the initiative by the GCCI to organize such events clearly indicates that it is duly playing its role as a facilitator of greater collaboration between the public and the private sector and as partner to government in the country’s socio-economic development efforts.
Describing the theme for the event as apt, the Vice President said the need for Gambians to consume Gambian products and services as a matter of choice is paramount.
“Indeed by patronizing Gambian products and services each and every one will be directly and indirectly contributing to wealth creation and poverty reduction in the country,” she stated.
According to her, The Gambia like all other developing countries faces certain challenges influenced both by global and internal factors, stressing that challenges such as access to finance, value-addition for increase exports earnings, integration into global
economy and supply-side constraints are but a few that needed urgent attention.
She also noted that addressing these challenges through public-private sector partnership
constitutes the best development approach, and remains a priority of the
The Minister of Trade Industry and Regional Integration and Employment, Abdou Kolley, said such events will go a long way in cementing economies and strengthening trade ties, and to reinforce regional integration among states.
Kolley called on the public and businesspeople not to see each other as a mere competitor, but as partners in development.
He urged them to buy from each other in a bid to create more employment, stating that government alone does not create jobs.
“How do we create jobs? It is by ensuring that we patronize each other so that production can expand. But if we cannot buy goods that are produced in The Gambia, our companies cannot grow and expand, and in the process they cannot employ Gambians,” Kolley stated.
Aki Allen, first vice president of the GCCI, on behalf of the president of GCCI, noted that the theme is not only pertinent but also relevant, at a time Gambian entrepreneurs are taking ownership of businesses in diverse sectors.
Almamy Taal, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GCCI chaired the ceremony, which also witnessed the launching of the GCCI website by the Vice President.