Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat (PSSG) is to hold the first Private and Public Sector Forum between The Gambia and Senegal from 24 to 25 May 2017 in Dakar, Senegal.
In the build up to the day, the secretariat on Wednesday organised a preparatory meeting at Ocean Bay Hotel at Cape Point in Bakau and it was attended by a cross section of stakeholders in The Gambia.
The participation fee for the forum, to be held at King Fahad Palace Hotel in Dakar, forum is $500.
Speaking on the meeting, Ambassador Paul Badji, executive secretary of Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat (PSSG), said the forum aims at business networking for both the public and private sectors within Senegambia.
He said the idea of organising the forum was jointly developed by the Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat and the Senegalo-Gambian Association for Integration and Socio-economic Development, a Senegambia civil society organisation which comprises the Gambian chapter and the Senegalese chapter.
Ambassador Badji said the secretariat agreement was signed by The Gambia and Senegal in February 2006 and an additional protocol was signed in 2010. He said their mandate is to facilitate the harmonisation of policies of the states and where possible integrate.
He said since 1967 when President Senghore of Senegal first visited The Gambia they talked about integration but it was not possible then they moved to confederation and still now they are talking about integration.
"Integration for the people and by the people is easy to do," the ambassador said. "The people are already integrated but integration using words only is not possible."
He said the rationale for the forum is to have real people from The Gambia and Senegal to face each other, to see how they can work together to construct and give Senegambia a face.
"It is time to work for Senegambia and make it a reality.
Professor Saliou Ndiaye, Senegalese Ambassador to The Gambia, said The Gambia and Senegal are all one people and one Family. He said there is no religion, culture, food and name or surname in the Gambia that is not in Senegal.
"I have hope that we are the ones who can bring about integration between Gambia and Senegal. I am urging all of you to attend the forum in Dakar for the development of the two countries and Africa at large", he said.
Abdoulie Baks Touray, speaking on the benefits of the forum, noted that when Gambians said that they are moving from dictatorship to democracy and since democracy is for the people, of the people and by the people which the secretariat is promoting.
He said that attending the meeting means that the delegates are saying that they have a new dispensation and that The Gambia and Senegal are the same. He said the Gambia will not be seated here today if Senegal has not stand by them.
He urged them to pay $500 to be part of the forum and network with their colleagues in Senegal and expand their businesses.
Beatrice Mboge of GCCI said only with harmonisation can there we integrate. She said it is better for each one of us to revisit ourselves and see how we are doing things and why we are doing things.
She said the forum has GCCI's blessings and that they will bring in their members on board. She asked if it is possible to review the cost of the meeting since the economic partners are not that strong.
She said since this is 1st edition, PSSG should see how best to make it affordable by bringing sponsors on board to reduce the cost.
She said they at GCCI have started engaging Senegal and that can be seen in their trade fair. She therefore urged all to visit the stalls at Trade fair.