The reasons are evidently manifold, but the differences in socio-economic and cultural conditions are crucial. The other important reason could be attributed to geopolitics, marked by unequal power relations. Developed countries ostensibly create opportunities for our people to access their markets only to render those opportunities virtually closed by way of regulations or other political measures. The United States trade agreement, AGOA, readily comes to mind on The Gambia’s situation. Since 2004 when the country was admitted into the trade agreement, the benefits remained negligible until the country’s expulsion last year.
The point we are driving at is that although the era of using countries in Africa as clientele states might be well in the past, Africans continue to look for solutions to their developmental challenges in either the East or the West, when the answers could be available from within. Perhaps, we need not to look far. Nigerian offshore businesses in The Gambia, ranging from the financial services sector to the movie industry are thriving in the country, accruing mutual benefits, most notably huge employment opportunities.
Therefore, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Nigeria and The Gambia signed on Wednesday March 12, is a welcome development. As published in our Friday March 13 edition, the signing of the accord took place in New York. The Gambia’s Vice President, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, and Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, signed the document on behalf of their respective countries. The MoU was signed on the sidelines of the UN Commission on Status of Women. According to the authorities of both countries, the bilateral dispensation seeks to promote trade, investment and best practices among women, the aged and people living with disabilities in both countries.
The formalisation of trade between the women of both countries will no doubt open new windows of opportunities. Nigeria and The Gambia are no strangers to each other. The task is now on the women of both countries to take full advantage of the opportunity created for them, by coming closer to share best practices and trade. The governments, too, should not stop at signing the MoU. Creation should be made of the necessary infrastructure, and where possible, incentivise the women to be able to reap the full benefits that the arrangement offers. Perhaps, the most important component of this arrangement is the consideration it gives to persons with disabilities. The prevailing conditions do not make life easy for them, as acceptable in a decent society. Since we are not privy to the finer details of the arrangement, the mere fact that attention is drawn to them is quite heart-warming; an indication that the duty bearers have them in mind. This accord should be made to succeed, so that it can serve as a model of an African paradigm for innovation and progress.]]>