APRA Banjul Conference yields fruit - As Nigerian investors storm The Gambia
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Africa Public Relations Association's (APRA) 2009 Conference held here in Banjul The Gambia, has started to yield some positive results, as some Nigerian investors who attended that conference are back to the country and this time, are apparently keen to exploit the obvious business potentials The Gambia has to offer.
APRA's 26-28 May 2009 annual conference in The Gambia was facilitated by the Public Relations Association of The Gambia (PRAG), an umbrella body that caters for public relations practitioners here in the country. The Nigerian investors came to the country under the auspices of Lawson Thomas and Colleagues Groups and other companies that are involved in services that deal with integrated marketing & communications network, held a two day strategic business retreat in The Gambia.
The strategic business retreat was held at the Sheraton Hotels and Spa in Brufut from Friday, 14 August to Saturday 15 August, 2009. According to Charles O. Abraha, the group's managing director/CEO, in his address to a cross section of journalists during the event on Saturday 15 August 2009, the group he revealed, aims to be a leading integrated marketing communications network in West Africa by 2014. "We are committed to being a first class communications company by identifying and exploiting opportunities, working with technical partners , creating champions in the industry sub-sectors, harnessing and developing these for our clients and markets, at a competitively reasonable considerations."
While also declaring that his company believes in the credentials of The Gambia as a leading investor's paradise around the west coast of Africa, this according to him is a testimony to the admirable role His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh has played in transforming the Gambia into an economic power house in the sub-region. "We are here because we believe that with Gambia we can achieve our aim of setting up an integrated marketing and communications across West Africa. We already have a branch in Ghana, bearing in mind that West Africa is driving towards a single economic bloc. Gambia is a right choice for us," he declared.
He also went on to say that they believe that The Gambia can become a global brand and intend to work tirelessly in making this happen. When questioned how he hoped to make this happen, he revealed that they are here to find out how they can work collaboratively with Gambian partners; to this end, he said they had had a fruitful discussion with Fatou Jallow of GIPFZA and are even considering the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding.
He further emphasized that "we decided to take our business to the Gambia because we believe the vinced that The Gambia is a good country to do business in." He went further to thank Gambians in general for the hospitality accorded to his group during their stay. Tunde Selewu the group's head of human resources averred that with his company into The Gambian market, they will be involved in capacity building initiatives that will see their Gambian employees trained according to international standards.
This he said "will be beneficial not only to our group but to the overall economy of the country. We want our staff to be at par with their contemporaries abroad, and to this end we will be well rooted in our capacity building initiatives," he said. Speaking also at the same event, Alex Dacosta, secretary general of PRAG and also the current chairperson of the National Sports Council, maintained that as a by-product of the APRA 2009 Conference, the coming to The Gambia of LTC will be beneficial to both the public and private sectors of the economy.
He said that to this end PRAG is happy to welcome their Nigerian colleagues to The Gambia. "We here in The Gambia are proud to welcome you to the Smiling Coast. We welcome in particular your capacity building initiative, which am proud to say is part of our collective desire during the APRA conference." The PRAG secretary general then went on to dilate on the importance of capacity building as a catalyst for economic development by also reminding the investors of APRA's pledge of helping capacitate the UTG in its pursuit of excellence where public administration study is concerned.
In a similar vein but in a separate interview at his office along Kairaba Avenue, Bai Matarr Drameh, president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also welcomed the visiting investors urging them to make good use of the positive business climate The Gambia has on offer. He maintained that in order for Africa to grow its stock economically there is the need to work towards a single economic block. "Becoming one economy is long overdue and it is very important, and often there is a tendency to over grudge the importance of economic unification." "This is why GCCI is happy whenever a new business opens shop in the country, particularly from our sister West African nations.
Bai Matarr expressed the opinion that with businesses opening in sister ECOWAS States, the enabling environment for a single currency will be created and that when this happens he said, "Nigerian, Gambian, Ghanaian or Sierra Leone businesses wishing to trade among themselves need no longer look for expensive foreign currency such as Euro, Dollar etc to trade between themselves, " he said.
Also commenting that it is their wish to develop The Gambia to be a financial centre with the entire required infrastructure and the support systems in place.To this end he said, having all the banks operarating in the country is the beginning of actualizing our dream of turning The Gambia into a financial centre, serving not only the country but the region and the continent, having corresponding links with banks internationally.
He further adduced that when banks & other allied businesses provide training and employment for The Gambia, they will become highly trained to an extent where other countries can come to the country to recruit such people.
The Nigerian company Lawson Thomas and Colleagues represents the following companies, Media Supermart Ltd, Youth Dynamix, LTC Advertising Ltd, CMC connect. They have a wide range of investments in such countries as Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya. LTC is also affiliated to WPP, a global leader in integrated marketing communications and public relations.
Author: by Victor Ofuonye