Gov’t, UNIDO ink US$5.7M country programme
Thursday, January 07, 2010
The government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) yesterday signed the 2010-2013 country programme at a ceremony held at the Trade, Industry and Employment Ministry in Banjul.
The signing of this document of cooperation came at a time when the UNIDO boss is currently in the country for a three-day visit, during which he is expected to meet some senior government officials. According to officials, the signing of this US $5.7 million country programme, which works will start in earnest, came as a result of the longstanding bilateral relationship between the government of The Gambia and the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation.
However, the four main components in this country programme include looking for opportunities that might exist in the area of agro-processing and agric-business development, supporting capacity building within the ministry, looking at promotional investment in various sectors, as well as possibilities for alternative renewable energy possibilities within the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Yusupha Kah, the minister of Trade, Industry and Employment, said the signing ceremony came as a result of two years of hand work between the Ministry of Trade and UNIDO for technical cooperation between the two partners, spanning over the next three years (2010-2013). This country programme according to Minister Kah, specifically focuses on priority areas in a bid to alleviate poverty, create employment as well as add value in terms of the agro-processing activities. He thanked all those who work towards the final signing of this important document adding that signing such a document is one thing but the challenge is yet to come which is the full implementation.
The Trade, Industry and Employment minister then expressed gratitude and applauded the UNIDO boss for the success his institution registered under his leadership over the past four years. This he said, is even demonstrated in his recent re-election for a second term. The UNIDO boss’ current visit to The Gambia, minister Kah noted, further demonstrates that he is a true pan-Africanist, committed to ensuring that the country achieve its objectives as enshrined PRSP II and Vision 2020. “So we hope that we all work together as we march towards the next decade, because we have ten years to go with our Vision 2020.
For his part, Kandeh Yumkella, the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, disclosed that they have worked on this programme together putting into consideration the needs of the country as well as priorities identified by the government and various stakeholders. “In fact some of the activities are already ongoing and our programme will focus on main areas crucial to the development of this country, notably looking at the opportunities that might exist for agro-processing and agric-business development, supporting capacity building within the ministry, promotional investment in various sectors; such as monitoring investment flows into the country so that government develops appropriate strategy to direct some of those investment into the productive sector, as well as possibilities for alternative renewable energy possibilities within the country.
These four components according to the UNIDO boss are not exclusive but instead reinforce each other, adding that these are critical areas that The Gambia and other developing countries must address. “In the year 2008-09, we have seen most countries affected by the food crisis, fuel crisis, financial crisis and now a full blown economic crisis. As we deal with these challenges, we also face the challenges of the climate change, lack of reliable supply energy or high cost of energy which affects the growth potential in the world,” he said. According to him, the demographic challenges which affect some countries, especially demographic pressure to create jobs and wealth within these economies are very crucial.
The UNID boss then applauded The Gambia for its success in the tourism sector and other services, but was quick to note that there are still challenges in diversifying the economy in order to make it grow faster as well as to absorb the growing youth population in ensuring that wealth is created to fight poverty.
Yumkella spoke at length about ways to tackle some of these problems as well as possibilities in upgrading some of the testing laboratories in the country in order to get international accreditation. Baboucarr HM Jallow, the permanent secretaryat the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment chaired the ceremony, which was graced by senior government officials.
Author: by Sheriff Janko