The Minister of Information & Communication Infrastructure last evening issued a statement distancing the Gambia Government from a Covid-19 relief fund announced by a private equity firm.
The statement signed by Minister Ebrima Sillah read: “It has come to the attention of The Gambia Government that a private equity firm, the Africa Infrastructure Fund (AIF–Gambia LTD) has announced the establishment of its own Covid-19 Relief Fund to support the government’s ongoing efforts in response to the national emergency that the country is facing.
“The AIF has already circulated a press release to the media that it’s Covid-19 Relief Fund will be implemented among other things, to manage the execution of required public projects and other publicly sponsored activities in The Gambia at government owned and managed facilities with a role in the national emergency response.
“While the Government of The Gambia acknowledges and appreciates the tremendous effort and support from its development partners and non-state actors in the fight against Covid-19, it has to be made abundantly clear that those seeking funding for their private Covid-19 response initiatives should not do so by riding on the weight of the government or its affiliated agencies without seeking and obtaining prior written consent or agreement.
“The Government of The Gambia therefore, informs the public that it is not in partnership with AIF-Gambia Ltd to seek or solicit funding to finance publicly-owned or publicly held activities and assets to combat Covid-19 9.
“To avoid duplication of efforts, the government advises that development support organisations, non-state actors and the private sector wishing to partner with government in the fight against Covid-19 should liaise with and obtain the full written consent of the Ministry of Health which is the designated Ministry to professionally co-ordinate the national response of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Neither Momodou Senghore, the chairman of the board of directors nor James Orehmie Monday, the CEO of Africa Infrastructure Fund (Gambia) was available for immediate comment on the matter when contacted by The Standard last evening.
However, a source with knowledge on the matter said AIF “was not trying to finagle or ride on the back of government as the minister’s statement implied”.
The source referred The Standard to AIF press statement issued on 21st August which stated: “The board of directors of the Africa Infrastructure Fund (Gambia) Ltd, (AIF), approved the establishment of its own Covid-19 Response Fund for The Gambia, to be professionally managed and administered by the AIF, to support and complement the Government of The Gambia’s efforts to respond to the ongoing national Covid -19 emergency crisis that the country is facing.
“The Fund to be known as the AIF Covid-19 Response Fund, is established to be a national platform that addresses the three major challenges the national emergency response faces, which are: (i) Coordination – the need for effective coordination of private sector and private citizen group efforts to support the national response, with the government’s own response at the national and sub national levels; (ii) Funding Mechanism – to offer private citizens of the Gambia, friends of the Gambia and others, a trusted alternative with best practice oversight and reporting mechanisms to receive and manage financial donations to finance public projects and other public-sponsored activities in support of the national emergency response; (iii) Implementation Capacity – to effectively and efficiently manage the execution of required public projects and other publicly-sponsored activities in The Gambia, at Government owned and/or managed facilities with a role in the national emergency response, in a timely manner.
“The AIF Covid-19 Response Fund shall only finance publicly owned or publicly held activities and assets, that would be coordinated within the overall government approach to combat Covid-19, which includes both public and private sector participation. Also, the AIF Board of Directors shall be required to prior approve all projects and activities to be financed by the AIF Covid-19 Response Fund.
Furthermore, the AIF is appointing two leading accounting firms to strengthen the financial management system of the AIF Covid-19 Response Fund. PKF Gambia will serve as its independent external Auditor reporting quarterly, and DT Associates will undertake the financial management and accounting of the fund.
The categories eligible for financing include, civil works – rehabilitation of existing, construction of new facilities, medical equipment, IT support systems, medical supplies and consumables as well as pharmaceuticals…”