HIS EXCELLENCY, ADAMA BARROW, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
EVENT: AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 2021 TRADE FAIR GAMBIA INTERNATIONAL
VENUE: INDEPENDENCE STADIUM, BAKAU
DATE: WEDNESDAY, 26TH MAY, 2021
Honourable Cabinet Ministers,
GCCI President and Board Directors,
Members of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Local and International Exhibitors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am extremely pleased to join you all for the Fourteenth (14th) Edition of the Trade Fair Gambia International. Happily, this year’s Trade Fair follows the unfortunate cancellation of the 2020 event. It is for the reason that, as Chief Patron of GCCI, I considered it especially necessary to come in person to demonstrate and express my government’s firm solidarity with the business community.
Last year, everyone in the world was affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Apart from loss of loved ones, livelihoods were either threatened or shattered.
In The Gambia, as in many other developing countries, the economy is driven mainly by small businesses.
Many of the women and youths running such businesses struggled to survive when the country and markets had to observe an extraordinary lockdown.
Medium and large businesses alike suffered immensely, because many of their customers either could not afford the goods and services offered, or could not reach them physically.
As a responsible government, we decided to support the people in various ways to the tune of Eight Hundred and Fifty Million Dalasis (D850 Million). An additional Two Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis (D224 Million), together with contributions from our partners, had to be spent for similar reasons.
Today, it is refreshing to recall that, like all patriotic and concerned citizens, the GCCI complemented Government efforts with the Businesses Against Covid-19 initiative. The Twenty Million Dalasis (D20 Million) raised by the Chamber, in partnership with the UNDP, was quite substantial.
We have taken note of the way the money was wisely disbursed, and we applaud the Chamber for the keen sense of responsibility that prompted the initiative. The tremendous support rendered to the Prisons Service, the complete rehabilitation of the first treatment centre at the Sanatorium, the supplies and equipment donated to the health sector, the support to the local councils for their communities and the sensitisation activities executed were all suitably targeted. Impressively too, the GCCI made its Trade Fair site and equipment available for COVID-19 testing and vaccination. This is superb!
In light of the important role of the Chamber in national affairs, I take this opportunity to call upon the Gambian private sector to participate more actively in the activities of the GCCI. The Chamber is an institution for the entire local business community, and it represents the sector responsibly.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recognising that the private sector acts as an engine of growth, the work of the GCCI affects every one of us in The Gambia. A flourishing private sector indicates a healthy economy.
From this point of view, we invite all private sector actors to take up the challenge and responsibility of ensuring a thriving private sector, in order to make The Gambia a progressive country for all.
With regard to Sustainable Development Goal Nine (9), we believe that an effective Public-Private Sector Partnership leads to sustainable and inclusive growth through employment creation, revenue generation and enhancement of livelihoods. Guided by this belief, the Government fully supports the private sector to provide essential business services and goods for the common good. In return, I advise that you work closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the interest of both partners.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Business Council, presided over by the Vice President, regularly brings together key Government Ministers and GCCI officials to discuss matters of Business Reform in the country. It is to cement this relationship further that the Chamber participates in relevant official missions.
My government also supports strongly the development of the GCCI’s Trade Fair site at Brusubi. Consequently, the Council and partners are pursuing the establishment of an appropriate venue, where we can host more fairs and support our local entrepreneurs. All these quite amply demonstrate Government commitment to building partnerships.
I understand and appreciate that, in line with our call for investment in agriculture, a strong emphasis on agri-businesses is gradually emerging. This is laudable, as it is estimated to cut down about Fifty Million US Dollars (US$50 Million) on rice importation so that “we eat what we grow.” Furthermore, it is a means of creating employment for the youths, and for other women and men who are interested in improving their welfare.
With many female entrepreneurs and young persons, linked to Small and Medium Enterprises, forming a large part of the exhibitors, we hope that the three weeks ahead will bring the public together to discover what our local entrepreneurs and companies, as well as the regional entrepreneurs and international companies, have to offer. I encourage both parties to make the most of the opportunities available for networking, match-making and discovery, among others.
We wish and pray that all the participants, both citizens and non-citizens, have a very successful Trade Fair. While acknowledging that the Chamber has taken measures to organise a safe fair, I must remind all participants and visitors to respect the WHO and Government protocols of wearing masks, hand washing and safe distancing.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is now my delight to officially declare the 2021 GCCI Trade Fair open.
I thank you for your attention.