The Vice-President and Minister of Women Affairs, Aja Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, has called for the empowerment of the youth and women; and for their agenda to be placed at the centre of all bilateral agreements.
The Vice-President was speaking recently at the opening ceremony of the first edition of the multi-sectoral forum of the public and private stakeholders from The Gambia and Senegal, held at the King Fahad Palace Hotel in Dakar, Senegal.
The Vice-President noted that the firm commitment of the African Union has raised the hope of all African youths, hence the need to create the skills for jobs.
She added that the situation was no different from that of women, who constitute more than 52% of the Senegalese and Gambian populations.
The VP said it was therefore urgent that women and youth agenda be placed at the centre of all bilateral agreements at the sub-regional and regional agenda levels, in order to ensure the achievement of the goals of development.
She further highlighted the historical and cultural ties between the Republics of Senegal and The Gambia.
According to her, the gathering would also provide stakeholders with opportunities to discuss and address policies and operational issues affecting Senegalo-Gambia, as well as regional integration, notably, trade, investments, information, communication and technologies (ICTs).
She said from a pragmatic and gradualist approach, bilateral cooperation must be built on pragmatism, in order to achieve a self-perpetuating process through the clear vision of the Senegalese and Gambian political leaderships for eventual block-building approach with timetables and targets that are credible and realistic.
She said parts of the objectives of the forum are focused on creating a unique business environment for public and private sector stakeholders from the two republics to explore strategic business opportunities and partnerships within and outside areas of the bilateral agreements, signed by presidents Macky Sall and Adama Barrow in March 2017.
She outlined that the private sector's involvement is implied by the very idea of a well-functioning market. Ultimately, integration is for the benefit of the people of a sub-region.
She added that they should be the critical actors, and governments and regional organisations are only facilitators, through appropriate choices and policies.
These, she said, may require strategic reforms to address trade barriers, particularly in the area of customs in order to speed up clearance process at the border for more efficient customs that would contribute to a better collection of tariff and tax revenues.
She stated that enhanced production and trade of goods and services are dependent on improved performance of private firms. The private operators and consumers would be the main beneficiaries of larger markets and investment opportunities.
She called on private operators to be involved in the design and implementation of regional activities, which would also help change the widespread perception that regional organisations are simply remote outgrowths of government bureaucracies, rather than an instrument for empowering the private sector.