As he embarked on a weeklong industrial visit to different companies, agencies and departments, the Honorable Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE) has disclosed that his Ministry considers industrialisation a necessary factor to The Gambia's economic development process.
Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof made this statement to members of the press during his visit on 16 January this year to Salam Company Limited, which manufactures cement, steel among other items, at Mile 5, Denton Bridge.
The Trade Minister was accompanied on the tour by Deputy Permanent Secretaries, technicians and some other senior officials from his Ministry.
Minister Joof, who was fascinated by what he saw in the company regarding investment, made it clear that his Ministry was not on a tour or visit to look for faults, errors or problems but "we have come to share our expertise and experiences to help a very genuine Gambian (proprietor of the company) who has brought all he got and invested it in the country".
He said further: "If you invest in industrialisation or an industry in this country, you are enabling the economy to flow, and you are helping us to excel. We are the Ministry of Trade and also Employment and as you are helping in creating employment we are killing four birds with one stone at the same time.
"So what fascinated me are the level of investment and the level of progress being made. We have seen the expansion that is underway and even with the current level of production, that this Salam Company Limited is in a position to fill the domestic market with products that should be target number one."
The Minister also said there is possibility for the domestic market to rely exclusively on the products from Salam Company Limited.
"That is going to create a lot of buffer in terms of our imports," he said. "And with this expansion underway there is also a possibility of targeting and taking our products beyond our borders to other countries, and within the African Continental Free Trade Arrangement. There is also a possibility that this will be one of the products which will target other African countries as Gambian product - Made in The Gambia - to cross the border and make sales."
The minister said he had collected information regarding the company's challenges, which come along with every progress. "As a government we will find ways to ameliorate the challenges the company is facing to ease off the burden of the company to enable them increase the rate of their production and employment and in that way we will also see their contribution to the economy growing."
The minister concluded by thanking Salam Company CEO Muhammad Sillah for the huge investment in the country.
CEO Sillah, who took the Minister and members of his delegation on a conducted tour of the company, outlined few of the challenges the company is facing, saying they range from employees and their expertise, to production, electricity or power supply, logistics regarding raw materials, and vessel arrival.
However, he thanked the Trade Minister and his team for taking their time to visit Salam Company Limited to know how the company is faring.