President Barrow yesterday received a 14-member delegation of the Turkey–Gambia Business councils, led by Turkish Ambassador to The Gambia Ismail Sefa Yuceer.
The delegation presented specific proposals for alternative energy in The Gambia; the construction of a new children’s hospital and a general hospital; the establishment of a direct flight between Istanbul and Banjul; and the provision of Turkish scholarships to Gambian students. Ambassador Yuceer also expressed Turkish interest in broader construction and interior decoration.
Offering details on some of the proposed projects, the Chairman of the Turkey–Gambia Business Councils, Mr Aygun Karakas, said members of the two councils were ready to invest in a 40-50 megawatts solar project in The Gambia, contribute to healthcare services with a construction of a 150-bed pediatric and general hospital as well as commence bi-weekly direct flights between Istanbul and Banjul in the first quarter of 2018. President Barrow was informed that a team was already in The Gambia to carry out a feasibility study on the conditions for having regular direct flights.
In his welcoming remarks, President Barrow said Turkish investment in Africa was second only to the United States of America, but that The Gambia had not benefited much from it. He said: “Our spirit is very high. Development cannot happen without opening to the private sector,” he said.
The President also extended a welcome to Turkish companies interested in various fields, including fisheries. He assured them of his administration’s commitment to provide a democratic atmosphere, respect for rule of law, and a secure environment for business to thrive. He further assured them of the political will, which he said manifested through the setting up of an investment committee to review all serious business proposals. He encouraged them to work with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders.
Apart from Turkish economic interests in The Gambia, the visiting delegation elaborated on specific social cooperate programmes to expand the scholarship package with the University of Commerce in Turkey, training of medical doctors, exchange visits with the University of The Gambia, and the provision of vocational training.
Both countries also envisage the further strengthening of bilateral cooperation through an upcoming capacity building programme for the security sector.
The Chairperson of the Turkish-Gambian Business Council (Gambian side), Mrs. Fatou Senghore attended the meeting. Also present were the President of GCCI, Mr. Muhammed Jagana, who is also Ambassador at large, the Coordinator of the Gambia Turkish Business Council Mrs. Aji Sally Sagnia Cham, and other officials.