By Omar Bah
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that The Gambia Government must ensure that migration continues to contribute positively to the country’s development outcomes.
He said migration, if treated wisely, could ultimately play a vital role in helping Gambia to realize the 2030 development agenda.
“To do this, we need to understand the impact of migration on the achievement of SDGs and equally understand the impact this achievement will have on future migration,” he said.
Ousainou Darboe was making these remarks at the executive training for senior civil servants, heads of business, civil society organizations and representatives of International Organization for Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia, MSDG.
The program is organised by the Gambia government in collaboration with the Swiss government through the Technical Cooperation Project, TCP.
He said very often, people reduce the discourse of diaspora-development to just two matters, “remittances sent home to families and friends; and what jobs the diaspora can take back home.”
“I think such a narrow focus is a mistake, which may lead to missed opportunities, overstretch of diaspora goodwill, and counter produce and petty. Therefore, this training workshop highlights the very seriousness of The Gambia towards migration issues,” he explained.
He said as part of efforts to ensure the contributions of migration is realize, government through his Ministry is setting up The Gambia Diaspora Directorate which will help Diaspora set up commercial and social enterprises, and other ventures which will create new, decent and viable jobs.
“To achieve this, we must also confront and tackle head-on the major challenges of dysfunctional migration. For a small country, we have a diaspora that is remarkable in many ways,” he said.
The Coalition government, he said shares the United Nations vision that, “migration should be a choice, not a desperate necessity”.
He further disclosed that, The Gambia had the second largest emigration rate of tertiary-educated population in sub-Saharan Africa (63 percent), behind Cape Verde (67.5 percent)”
Still on migration related issues, Darboe said as a proportion of its population, The Gambia has the highest percentage of irregular migrants using the Sahara-Mediterranean route to Europe.
“These are predominantly young people, including significant numbers of children and minors. Given the fact that, Gambian Diaspora includes significant numbers of vulnerable migrants; mainly young people in limbo, without regular status, relentlessly pursue the setting up of the Diasporan Directorate,” he added.
Minister Darboe further said it is important for the highly skilled diaspora to return to take up specialist jobs, “It is vital for the diaspora in general to be part of The Gambia’s job-creation agenda.”
“Because it is a priority of government to make it relatively easy for migrants and multi-generational Gambian diaspora to optimize their contributions to The Gambia’s sustainable development and long-term prosperity,” he said.
“I am committed and so is my Ministry in making sure that Diasporan is seen as an important constituent of the new Gambia,” he concluded.