Officials of the governments of The Gambia and Poland yesterday joined representatives of business and industry from the two countries at a daylong economic forum to discuss economic prospects between the two countries.
The forum, the first of its kind, held at Sunset Beach Hotel was designed to foster ties between members of the business communities of the two countries.
Addressing the forum, the Consul of the Republic of Poland to The Gambia, Hussein Diab-Ghanem said Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe with one of the fastest growing economies.
“Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland’s GDP has increased by an average of 4% a year, one of the best performances in the EU,” he said.
According to him, Poland has seen the largest increase in GDP per capita (more than 100%) among the former Eastern Bloc countries and compared to the EU-15 (around 45%).
“It has had uninterrupted economic growth since 1992, even after 2008 financial crisis,” he said.
He added: “Polish companies are making a name for themselves as not only leaders in e-commerce, FinTech, and digital solutions (this comes as no surprise since Poland produces one of the highest numbers of software developers in the world) but Poland also boasts a mature manufacturing, agriculture, and even aerospace sector.
“It comes as no surprise that tourism alone contributes over 20% of The Gambia’s GDP and the economy depends heavily on this sector. The recent past has taught us the importance of diversification and all-round economic development and it is in this spirit that we host this very important forum that will in my opinion facilitate a natural progression in consummating business communities from both Poland and The Gambia and boost growth in different sectors where possible”.
Mr Diab-Ghanem who is also the managing director of The Gambia’s largest telecoms company, Africell, noted that the country “still has a lot of untapped opportunities and potential for growth which can only be brought about by collaboration and strategic partnerships”.
The ambassador of Poland to The Gambia based in Dakar, Margareta Kassangana, said The Gambia is undergoing a similar transformation her country underwent from 1992. “The Gambia is going through huge transformation in the areas of economy and building a new democracy. We have a lot in common I think and that makes it a good starting point”.
The Gambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mamadou Tangara, said: “This is another big opportunity for The Gambia to strengthen and take the relationship between the two counties to another level”.
He thanked the Polish delegation and expressed hope that the forum will engender collaborative successes.
The head of cooperation at the EU Delegation in The Gambia, Stephane Meert, said promoting and facilitating trade and investment cooperation between EU and non-EU businesses is a key integer of global economic improvement.
“In many aspects economic cooperation between Gambian businesses and those from Poland and other EU member states are very favourable. There is a large room for mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” he added.
Mr ML Sowe from The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency and Alieu Secka, CEO of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce & Industry also delivered statements.
During the day’s sessions, presentations and discussions were made on many areas including food and agriculture, construction, health and medicine and FinTech.