By Aisha Tamba
The government of The Gambia, supported by the EU, Sunday launched a billion dalasi project in a bid to scale-up economic and social opportunities for young Gambians, and discourage the perilous ‘backway’ journey, which has claimed hundreds of Gambian lives.
The Tekki Fii project seeks to enable young people to see the benefits of choosing to ‘Make It Here’ – or Tekki Fii in Wolof – by tapping economic opportunities in the country rather than going abroad through irregular migration in search of ‘so-called greener pastures’.
The 3-year project is designed to help youth with job-ready skills and entrepreneurship opportunities in a variety of sectors, ranging from solar installation to agriculture, ‘creative industry’ and tourism.
It will also provide the communities with relevant social and recreational facilities and activities, with a focus on sports, in order to reinforce social cohesion and promote rural development.
The programme is being led by the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, working with business and development partners.
The EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos, who was speaking at the launching organised at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, expressed hope that ‘Tekki Fii’ will shape precarious futures and improve the economic development and future prospects of young Gambians.
“Our renewed promise of assistance with this programme of €23 million (more than 1.2 billion dalasis) will be implemented by International Trade Centre (ITC), German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Instituto Marques de Valle Flor (IMVF) and the Belgian Development Agency (Enabel) under the overall leadership of The Gambian government,” the ambassador stated.
The Vice President of the Republic, Dr Isatou Touray, said the launching of the project, which coincided with the 13th edition of the Trade Fair Gambia International, could not have come at a better time.
The VP who represented President Barrow, went on: “The government has inherited many challenges, the frustrations and lack of opportunities for our young people is the most urgent one. It has driven thousands of our young people to undertake the risky journey across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better future. The ‘backway’ journey has brought loss of lives and great suffering to our youths and society as a whole. It has deprived the country of virtual human capital and resources needed to fuel the growth for economic and social transformation of our society.”
She called on the youths to be proactive and take advantage of opportunities government is providing.
“Your success, but also the development of our nation, depends on your drive and willingness to seize these opportunities and transform it into growth and wealth,” the VP said.
Meanwhile the president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muhammad Jagana, said this year’s Fair has vendors from almost every West African country including other international participants.
“Over the years, we have seen a huge growth in TFGI and this year we are expecting to welcome over 50,000 people,” he said.
He added: “In recognition of the growing need to support youth entrepreneurs, the GCCI has partnered with the Youth Empowerment Project (Yep) in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to create a Youth Pavilion which is a branded pavilion of stalls dedicated to youth businesses.
“This year, we are hosting 45 youth entrepreneurs under the Youth Pavilion and over 75% are youth women entrepreneurs,” he disclosed.