The director of private sector at the Ecowas Commission has disclosed that The Gambia has been chosen to host the forthcoming Ecowas 4th Business Forum and the 2nd Young Entrepreneurship Award slated for September, 2012.
Alfred Briamah, who is also a member of the West African Chamber of Commerce delegation made this disclosure during an interview with reporters at State House on Monday shortly after an audience with the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy.
He told reporters that the delegation is in the country to seek support from the government of The Gambia and also discuss the specific date for the forum as well as engaging relevant stakeholders. "The Gambia is one of the Ecowas states and the president is a member of the Authority of Heads of State of the Ecowas sub-region," he said.
The Ecowas private sector director spoke about the importance of the forum, saying it has the potential to bring people all over the world as well as have clear value business opportunities for sister countries within the Ecowas sub-region. He added that their visit to The Gambia is part of a journey that seeks to create the platform for not only the private sector to engage and partner, but also play a rightful role in all the dialogue and strategy policy that would be pursued in both national and international levels.
He commended the government of The Gambia for its Vision 2020 blueprint, saying the government clearly underscored the need for growth and development by allowing the private sector to lead. He revealed that the Ecowas Commission has a similar Vision 2020 document, which also spelt out the role of the private sector as very vital in both growth and development.
Briamah recalled that in 2006, the Authority took time to transform the Ecowas Secretariat into a Commission with a view to provide good level of empowerment including the enhancement of the regional integration. "The Ecowas Commission, the governments and all other member states agreed to establish private sector directorate during which clean mandates were handed over to the heads of state including the establishment of the private sector to take the rightful position in the growth and development agenda," he disclosed, adding that in 2009, they held an engagement with the vice president on the Ecowas liberalisation scheme in which she made some critical points such as the need for supporting Ecowas initiated programmes.
For his part,Tidiane Traore, another member of the delegation,who is also the coordinating consultant, Sealink Promotional Company said that they came to State House to present to the vice president, the project called the Sealink which is initiated in both West and Central Africa. He explained that the ultimate aim of the project is to enhance and facilitate the movement of goods and people within the sub-region and also in Central Africa with a clear focus on the market places and small medium-size levels.
He revealed that the project is not only supported by the Ecowas but also by the Nigerian Export and Import bank, which he said funded them to conduct feasibility studies. "When we started this project, the authorities of The Gambia made it clear that they were very keen about it. So, we came to look about the participatory of the Gambia Ports Authority in taking the equity and to look at the private sector of The Gambia," he said.
Traore outlined the benefits of the projects, saying it would enhance the movement of goods within the sub-region and also boost the economics of the member countries.
VP Njie-Saidy also on Monday received in audience the executive director of Islamic Cultural Centre for Women and Children (ICCWC), at her office at State House.
Aja Mimuna Yadali Savage was at State House to thank the president, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh and the vice president for the support they have been rendering to her organisation since its inception 15 years ago.
She disclosed to reporters that she used the opportunity to formally invite the president and the vice president to grace their 15th year anniversary as chief patron and chief guest of honour respectively. She also thanked them for the plot of land given to her in support of her initiatives.