By Aisha Tamba
The first Belgium-Gambia trade and investment forum has ended last week which saw stakeholders network with a delegation of Belgian investors.
The forum was organised by the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) in collaboration with the Belgian Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Flanders Investment and Trade Agency.
The aim of this high level mission is to strengthen the existing bilateral trade and investment ties between the two countries as well as enable Belgian companies to explore business opportunities and establish partnerships with public and private sector institutions from diverse priority sectors of the economy.
Mr Marc van Maldegem, local representative CBL-ACP, said: “This was motivated by the fact that we are convinced, like the many the world over, that Africa is the next economic frontier that will offer the most and the best business opportunities in the coming decades. This certainly will be the case for Gambia.
“Secondly as CBL-ACP, we believe in partnerships and more specific in the public private partnerships as the model of engagement between our countries and their respective companies for the promotion of private sector led economic growth and development.”
Ambassador of the Gambia to Belgium H.E Teneng Mba Jaiteh, welcomed the guests to the first ever Belgium-Gambia trade and economic mission. “As I welcome you once again to the New Gambia the Smiling Coast of Africa, I enjoin you to take advantage of the visit to garner as much information as possible from the experts representing key institutions that are present here. In so doing, you will be able develop effective partnerships for business development in your chosen areas. The timing of this mission also coincides with the finalization of the National Development Plan (2018-2021) which has highlighted the priority sectors of medium term. This document will be presented to our development partners in Brussels later this year,” she said.
The vice president, Madam Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, in her remarks, said: “We are honored that you have chosen The Gambia as a destination for exploring business opportunities and that you are today part of this historic bilateral venture between the Kingdom of Belgium and Republic of The Gambia.
“A little over a year ago, The Gambia and its people had a new beginning. A new government that was voted into office for a multitude of reasons. As government, we believe that the core of our mandate is to honor the social contact between the government and the citizens of this country; to transform and build a government that is capable of functioning effectively and committed to resolving the challenges of the country, including sustainable economic development for the shared prosperity of our people; poverty and improve well-being of all Gambians.”
Ambassador of Belgium to The Gambia H.E Philippe Colyn, said expressed appreciation in the growing relationship of the two countries.
“Let me also mention the regular stop in Banjul of the logistical support ship of the Belgian Navy, the Godetia, which, in the past, conveyed among other things humanitarian aid for a hospital in Banjul. The last visit of the Godetia took place in November 2016 and we can foresee the next stop over in March 2018.
“Moreover, Belgium as a member state, participants to the strong support given by the European Union in favour of the political transaction and of the financial, economic and social recovery of the country.
“The relation between our two countries is limited but yet significant. I can highlight the presence of Brussels Airlines considered as Gambia’s gateway to Europe, the presence of several Belgian businesses essentially in the tourism sector and the excellent people-to-people relation.”