Press Statement from the President’s Office
His Excellency, the President, Mr. Adama Barrow expressed optimism in the potential French investors who visited him and called on them to seized the opportunity to expand their businesses into The Gambia. He noted that cordial relationship between Senegal and The Gambia makes it favourable for French investors to take a sub-regional approach to invest in The Gambia. President Barrow recognized the support France gave through the European Union to end the political impasse in the country. He appreciated the commitment the French demonstrated since his visit to France last March. It was followed by several consultations which led to the visit by the French Business community to the country. He reiterated the importance of mechanized farming as one of the priority areas to ensure food security.
The visiting French Business Community will explore the possibilities to invest in Agriculture in particular cultivation of fruits and vegetables, processing and marketing, Shipping, Fisheries, the Cement industry amongst others.
In chairing the meeting, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honourable Hamat Bah called on the investors to consider the aviation industry and explore and to consider Air France coming to the Gambia. He thanked those who took the initiative to visit rural Gambia to familiarize themselves with the country they intend to invest.
The Permanent Secretary for Investment, Office of the President, Mr. Yankuba Saidy briefed the potential French investors on the requirements for investment in the country.
The French Ambassador in Dakar, H.E. Excellency, Christophe Bigot and the French Permanent Representative in the Gambia… led the potential French Investors based in Dakar to the Presidency.
A Gambian Businessman, Charbel Elhage, expressed appreciation for the President Barrow’s call for private sector involvement to build the New Gambia. He said they must be seen to be doing so and make The Gambia a model for other countries. Public Private Partnership (PPP) is also being given consideration amongst the French Investors.
The team also included a French Trade adviser and the French Trade Commission in Senegal to encourage business in The Gambia. The visiting team will continue to consult with the other relevant partner institutions in government and in the private sectors for more technical issues on investment.
Security Reform Key in Sustaining Democracy
The fact finding mission consisting of ECOWAS, EU, AU and the UN briefed President Adama Barrow on their assessment mission in The Gambia. The Joint mission was led by former President of Burundi, H.E. Pierre Buyoya. President Barrow said the Joint team shows the collaborative effort of the International Community’s readiness to support the Gambia and that has raised hopes of his government. He said their coming demonstrates their belief in his government’s mission. On the areas for reform, the President said the whole system needs to be overhauled because it is polluted.
On security reforms, the President expressed the need for separation of roles between the police and the armed forces according to the different units. He said the reforms should include training and financial support to inculcate professionalism and integrity in the security sectors. He called for restructuring to go with incentives. President Barrow expects that with a disciplined and professional force, everyone will feel secured because there will be respect for the rule of law.
President Barrow noted that apart from security reforms, the government needs budgeting support to undertake other reforms in the area of the judiciary, health care, agriculture and light manufacturing industries. The President added that without reliable, affordable and accessible energy we cannot develop as a nation. He said that this type of democratic change is new in the Gambia and some expect immediate change.
The Gambian leader concluded that to do reforms there is need for financial discipline at all levels including the State House. He informed the team about the ongoing financial audit exercises at the Office of the President, which so far has revealed that government monies where going to personal accounts. He disclosed that 105 bank accounts of government belong to individual civil servants.
He asserted that having a majority in the National Assembly will now make it possible to have the necessary reforms in place.
After congratulating the President, the head of the Joint mission, Mr. Buyoya said ending the impasse was the success of the Gambian people, President Barrow and Africa at large. The intervention of the international community is an example of how different actors can work together in unison to support the same cause said Mr. Buyoya.
On their mission in the Gambia, Mr. Buyoya said they are responding to the request for assistance from the government of the Gambia in three areas, namely, the security sector reform, National Dialogue and economic reforms.
The team is to assess the expectations and priorities of the government. He said they understood the scope, challenges and the determination to overcome them. Mr. Buyoya further added that the Joint Security Reform Team will accompany the government, because they are aware that Security is a sensitive matter and the hopes are very high. It was also said that there is need to revisit the security sector because in security reform there must be trust and confidence. It was emphasized that the change must be owned by the Gambian people.
It is expected that at the end of the mission a proposal will be presented to the government with recommendations by the team.
The EU Ambassador to the Gambia, Atilla Lajos said he was happy to see that the joint mission has been realized and EU is still committed to the support the Gambia. He said the fact finding mission will provide a framework for the re-organization and re-structuring within a bigger master plan for the country’s development.
The UNDP Resident Representative Ade Mamoyane Lekoetje said UN and EU are supporting the Joint team with the coordination.
Director of Press and Public Relations
For: Secretary General
CC: Media Houses
Web Manager – State House Website