Gambia Investment & Diaspora Outreach Forum held in Cologne
Friday, July 13, 2012
As part of plans to attract investment from Europe's economic powerhouse of Germany and harness the potentials of Diaspora Gambians based there, The Gambia government recently dispatched a strategically important delegation to Cologne, Germany.
According to release issued to this paper,the delegation led by the Minister of Trade, Industry, Employment and Regional Integration Kebba S. Touray met various stakeholders of the German economy and learned about the work ethics that made Germany standout as the backbone of the European political economy. The delegation also held an interactive investment and outreach forum on July7, 2012 with members of the Gambian community associations from Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and other parts of Germany.
Welcoming the guests, the Lord Mayor of the Cologne city district of Lindenthal, Mrs. Blomer Ferker, regretted why she knew nothing about the Gambia but was glad that the forum provided her and other Germans like her the credible chance to know about the Smiling Coast of Africa.
The President of the Gambian- German Cultural Association (GCCA) of Cologne, Alhaji Falai Jallow, called on participants to unite and work towards the common good of The Gambia. He thanked the delegation for choosing Cologne as the venue for this important Diaspora outreach gathering.
Touray, the minister of Trade, Industry, Employment and Regional Integration
extended the greetings of President Jammeh, the government and people of The
Gambia to the Gambian communities in Germany. He said the decision to come to
Cologne confirmed the importance the government attaches on Gambians overseas.
He recalled that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was renamed Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad and in January 2012 the
Diaspora Consultative Forum in Banjul provided space and opportunity to
dialogue and formulate formal strategy for the participation of Diaspora
Gambians in national development process. He reminded
them of their role as ambassadors of The Gambia in their respective activities,
adding that one key fundamental prerequisite for achievement is unity.
Touray re-echoed the clarion call of GGCA for solidarity towards the common
good despite the differences in worldview and personalities. He also drew from
his experience as former Gambian Ambassador to Spain where he successively
convinced 36 different Gambian associations to form a federation.
A similar federation of Gambian Diaspora associations in Germany is being considered with the guidance of the Gambian Embassy in Brussels and the Consul Generals in Germany. Other members of the Gambia government delegation explained the mandates of their various institutions respectively:
Director of Investment Promotion and Facilitation of The Gambia Investment and
Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), Musa Bah, told the gathering that his
institution is set out to be the one stop shop for domestic and foreign
investors seeking to take advantage of the Gambia's investment potentials.
He said the priority sectors that The Gambia government provides incentives include Agriculture, Manufacturing, Energy, Transportation, Mineral Exploitation, Financial Services, Information and Communication Technologies and Tourism and Culture.
The Chief Executive Officer of GIEPA, Fatou Mbenga - Jallow reminded the participants of the need to liaise with GIEPA in order to get the right professional services in the field of investment and export development. She revealed that a Standard Office has been created to make sure Gambian products and services meet the quality standards for the respective target export markets.
CEO Jallow explained the GIEPA as the statutory body in charge of working with the private sector to develop and export “Made In The Gambia” will work with the GCCI and the Gambia Standard Office to ensure that Gambian products and services are exported according to the due quality standards. She reminded participants of the investment opportunities in the value chains of “Made in The Gambia” products and services.
Gambia Tourism Board
The Director of Marketing at the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) Adama Njie explained that Tourism contributes 16% to the GDP of The Gambia and the goal is to move the revenue generation base from US$178M to us$250M and US$500M respectively by the year 2020. He dwelled on the unique advantages The Gambia offers to holiday makers in terms of proximity to Europe, rich culture, value for money, security, sun, beach, stability, ecotourism and fauna and flora.
Benjamin Roberts, the director general of The Gambia Tourism Board, announced plans to recapture the German market as Germans are among the high spenders. He told the participants that arrangements have been made for the German air service provider Condor to provide two weekly flights between Gambia and Germany with the hope of increasing the frequency over time. The lack of adequate and reliable air services to The Gambia has been one of the reasons discouraging German holiday makers despite the proximity advantage.
talked about the need to sanitize the tourism industry and address the
challenges raised by Diaspora Gambians who once invested in The Gambia tourism
industry or facilitated group travels to The Gambia.
In the area of diversification to include cultural and event tourism with sustainable pull effects, the Director of International Marketing at the GT Board London Office, Ida Jeng -Njie, explained how the Roots Homecoming and the Kanilai International Festivals serve as key pillars of marketing Gambia's cultural tourism. She added that Gambian culinary diversity will be promoted through an annual food festival saying additional festivals will be institutionalized with the approval of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture as part of the cultural development and event tourism marketing drive.
The role of
Gambians in Germany in supporting the aggressive marketing of Destination
Gambia was also discussed. Adding his
voice to the diversification drive and Diaspora involvement in the marketing,
the Assistant Secretary General of the Gambian- German Cultural Association
(GGCA), Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, said as a film industry practitioner
he can mainly use his authentic Gambia film and film-related projects to
seriously market The Gambia's cultural diplomacy, tourism and general
investment promotion in a cost-effective manner without wastage.
how the UAE (Dubai Studio City, annual Dubai Filmfest, Abu Dhabi Filmfest, movie
productions), Qatar (Sunderance, Dohar), Los Angeles (Hollywood), South Africa,
Shanghai and other tourism hotspots secured prominent positions on the global
tourism maps through the effective development of their respective film
industries with crowd-pulling effects. If people don't come for the classic sun
and beach, they will come for the food, culture, location, dress codes,
traditions, languages, festivals, peoples, biodiversity and landscapes they see
in the authentic festivals and movies.
The officials of the Gambia Tourism Board expressed interest is taking advantage of this option in eventual sustainable collaboration with Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu.
The Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) was represented by its Director of Public Relations Raymond A.K. Njie and Senior Estates Manager Alhagie Fatty.
Raymond A.K Nije told the participants that retirement is a fact of life and one will not have the energy and the luck to earn well at a certain age. He encouraged them to think of homecoming and take advantage of the retirement planning packages of the SSHFC to complement the ones they already have in Germany.
He also talked about the Corporate Social Investments of the SSHFC in the areas of Housing, Health, Agriculture, Education and Tourism as deliberate inclination to shift away from a hand out philosophy to a developmental approach with empowerment and sustainability.
part, Alhagie Fatty, the senior estates manager, reviewed the previous housing
projects of the SSHFC. He also explained the going housing schemes in Jabang,
Tujereng and Brikama Jamisa that Diaspora Gambians can benefit from. He said
the criteria for allocations are, Gambian nationality, income, need and
attendance of an interview. Since many Diaspora Gambians would not be able to
appear in person for interviews, he said the SSHFC will address this issue
Another concern of the participants is the nationality question.
Some of the Diaspora Gambians who would be interested in SSHFC housings have
either dual nationalities or have renounced their Gambia ones. Both Mr. Raymond
AK Njie and Fatty referred to the saying that no matter how long a stick stays
in water it will never turn into a crocodile.
Applicants will be asked to provide at least a document that they are Gambians by birth or otherwise as required by Law. The two gentlemen told the community members that the SSHFC will respond to the demands by considering the development of a Diaspora Village as part of its next estate projects.
The Manager of Business Development of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Sarata Konateh, talked about the new initiative to promote “Made in The Gambia” brand for economic diversification, domestic consumption and export. Diaspora Gambians disclosed that there is ready market for authentic Made in The Gambia products in Germany but the issues of quality, finishing, standards, packaging, timely delivery and appropriate marketing should be addressed with priority attention.
The presentations were followed by interactive question and answers sessions with networking. Participants promised to stay in touch so as to follow up on the issues raised during the deliberations. The members of the Gambian German Diaspora communities in attendance requested the Trade Minister and head of the delegation, Kebba S. Touray, to return their greetings to President Jammeh, the government and the people of The Gambia on their behalf.
The forum was chaired by The Gambian Ambassador to Belgium and the EU with accreditation to GermanyMamour Alieu Jagne.
Executive Officer of The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA)
Fatou Mbega Jallow delivered the votes of thanks.
The Gambia's Honorary Consul General for Germany's most populous Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and his spouse Dr. Rolf and Ursula Becker actively participated in the organization of the venue and other logistics alongside the members of the Gambian German Cultural Association (GCCA) in Cologne and the staff of the Gambian Embassy in Brussels.
Author: Daily Observer