By Tabora Bojang
The president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Edrissa Mass Jobe has said that the coronavirus pandemic has shined light and exposes Gambia’s vulnerabilities with adverse socio-economic consequences propelling average Gambians to choose between either dying of Covid-19 or starvation.
Mr. Jobe said even though the The Gambia is yet to experience much morbidity and mortality, the pandemic has ignited economic risks and exposed the country’s vulnerability as an economic entity amid sharp declines in businesses capping economic hardships for thousands of households.
“In all over the world Covid-19 kills more people with underlying conditions but for the Gambia, we also have an underlying condition and that is the poverty and our lack of industrial base,” Jobe said.
“Since 1965 the probability of Gambia existing as a nation has been questioned, anybody can have a country but we want a country where there is economic development and the GDP per capita is high. Covid-19 has just exposed how poor we are even the simple act of social distancing is impossible. A lot of people including women gardeners live from hand to mouth basis and if they do not have a Lumo, they would not be able to sell their products. So if you ask them to social distance you are forcing them to make a choice between either dying from Covid or dying from hunger and you cannot make those impossible choices for people,” he added.
Jobe, who is also the chairman of Atlas Gambia, said given the magnitude of the shock on the Gambia’s economy, it is inevitable that a lot of medium and small scale businesses to shut down operations due to lack of resilience to bounce back.
“The entire business community is on the verge of collapse and a lot of businesses are going to close after Covid-19 since the small and medium enterprises did not have the capacity to recover from the economic consequences. The government must intervene to support these businesses so that there is business continuity post Covid but as at now businesses are yet to receive any support or intervention from the government since the Covid19 started.”