A delegation of Gambians living in Norway and their Norwegian and Bulgarian partners interested in investing in the Gambia called on His Excellency President Adam Barrow on Friday morning. In her introduction, The Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment – MOTRIE, Honourable Dr ISatou Touray said the visiting team was on a scoping mission but added they were pleased with what they had discovered in the country.
Gambian Resident in Norway and activist, Ndey Jobarteh said the Gambia did not exploit the Scandinavian opportunities and it is time to engage the Norwegians. She briefed the President of the activities they did to prepare the visiting team and the immediate actions, taken during the visit to support the health, energy sectors amongst others.
She expressed the urgency to work on bilateral relations with Norway and the plan to work with the Norwegian government.
Another Norwegian-born Gambian, Mr Mamadi Ceesay, Managing Director of Nutrition, by a Norwegian Gambian organisation – Norga said they sell the best of two worlds, that is The Gambia and Norway. He further divulged their plans to work on a Norwegian model to encourage The Gambia to work with specialists so that it can eventually sustain its own development. Their plan includes creating jobs for one thousand youths throughout the country as they work towards their target of five thousand youths.
Mr Omar Badjie of the Ministry of trade gave a brief of the engagements of the Norwegian and Bulgarian delegation with the different sectors. He reports that the team was impressed with the potential found in the Gambia, after visiting the Hospital has immediately committed to sending 2 containers to support the hospital but also Biomedical engineers to provide technical support in the operation and maintenance of the machines. They also pledged to provide the generator for the immediate needs of NAWEC while they work with the Ministry of Energy on long-term renewable energy sources for rural Gambia. Other sectors of interest are Tourism, Construction and Agriculture including plans the revived the groundnut milling plant at Denton Bridge (Saroo.)
In his response, H.E. President Barrow said he was pleased and proud that Gambians are answering his call to rebuilding The Gambia. He asserted that the past twenty-two years was difficult and it was risky to be a political candidate. The President appreciated the efforts of Gambians and how they compromised everything for the change to take place. He, therefore, urged Gambians to work hard for the changes to reflect on the people. The President commended the Gambians in Norway as Ambassadors for their country and said all Gambians are now free to return home. He reiterated that they fought for the change based on the principles of democracy, and he said with democracy, there will be respect for human rights and rule of law. He appreciated the efforts by the Ministry of trade working with the other relevant ministries to reduce the bureaucracy which led to the signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the partners. Time is important and his government is ready to do business.
President Barrow informed them of the challenges inherited including what he described as “a broken economy and the former government worked on ‘pay as you go’ taking soft loans for three months to fix things and went back to the same cycle.” On the structural changes at his office, President Barrow shared the changes they have done to decongest the office of the president by reassigning the different portfolios to the right line ministries. He elaborated on the targets set in the various sectors, top on the agenda is for the energy to have short-term measures in the first six months and have a long term solution to solve the energy crises. On tourism, they plan to have a year-round tourism and will market The Gambia and bring back the Scandinavians who used to be one of our main targets for the tourism sector. President Barrow concluded that when there is development, then democracy will thrive forever and called on all to join in nation building.
The visiting team included Mr Ba Jabbie of Norga, Gambian Activists in Norway, Ndey Jobarteh and Neneh Bojang, a legal practitioner and other Norwegian and Bulgarian investors.
For More information on the engagements of H.E. President Adama Barrow, you are invited to follow him on Facebook/Barrow PORG and on Twitter: @BarrowPresident and on the website: www.statehouse.gm