Good morning from Bànjul, the update today from Bànjul is a live video of Brikama market arguably one of the most economically untapped cities in Gambia. Brikama and surroundings are the most populated, it host the college and the university extension in Faraba among other major installations.
The live video shows the over crowded market with stalls so stacked you can see and feel the economic miss opportunity to turn this town into an economic hub. With high end market stalls you can literally rent hundreds if not thousands of stalls that can pay off a multi-million market investment within 5 to 10 years. In fact building a huge mall outside of the city will allow thousands of businesses to operate there, generate massive revenue and employment for Gambians youths.
As stated before most of the areas I see are exactly the same way over a decade ago. Although I did not have much time to visit around because it was an emotional visit to my late brother who passed away several months ago, I visited at least two areas of this town.
I was dying to see what work the local area council has done or is doing. Am sure millions of revenue is collected from these market vendors and home owners regularly. The feeder roads in all the places I visited from coastal area to Brikama are in a very deplorable condition. The roads have never been paved much less graveled or built. It is dangerous and damaging to motorists to drive on these roads. I asked how do people drive or access their homes during heavy rains. You can only imagine.
My observations so far are that the concept of development in Gambia is so misplaced. Don’t get me wrong you see multi-million homes and businesses built in almost every corner, but these individual developments to me does not represent the development of the country and or local communities. You cannot even enjoy a smooth ride to your beautiful home without your body being shaken to a therapeutic attention. God forbid you get sick only a prayer can safe your life.
Worse, multi-million dollar businesses like Cherlelam breweries, the Chinese Embassy on Senegambia high way have huge pot holes and yet the company will not spend a dime making at least in front of the business attractive. In other nations businesses and construction companies are required to ensure that business surroundings are built for smooth access to the business. This is pandemic across Gambia.
While going through these roads I thought about few simple concepts to develop every single road that will connect the cities. I asked why couldn’t gov’t guarantee local area councils loans of say $200 Million or whatever amount needed through commercial banks for these development projects with lower interest rates. They call them bonds and local voters can even vote to increase taxes to pay for such services. And to pay off these loans government can make sure at least 30% of revenue collected from taxes and licenses goes to service such loans for say up to 15 years. I mean revenue is being collected but no one seems to know where the funds are being applied to. So such simple ideas may go a long way to enhance development. Viable nations rely on business loans and long term investment to spar economic growth. Imagine the number of youths who can be employed building these roads.
If in fact a quarter of the millions of dollars we hear wasted in the commission sittings were invested on these roads, Gambia would have been at a different level. Another concept one could think of is involving local businesses in adopting roads by building them and promote their brands. This could ease burden on government and encourage good corporate citizenship.
Thus far Gambia need to rethink it’s concept of development. Stay tuned on story about our youthful population. Gambia is very very young not 50℅, no like 65℅• All I see is young people. Heh am just on vacation enjoying the new freedom in Gambia. Have a blessed day and come back for more doze of reality live on the ground.. to be continued …
Demba: To reach the author email: email@example.com