Speaking on Saturday at the official opening of the 8th edition of the International Trade Fair of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) currently taking place at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, Jobe argued that MSMEs account for more than 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and form more than 60 percent of the urban labour force, thus underpinning their significance for economic growth and empowerment.
He said: “The importance of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises as the principal source of growth and employment cannot be overstated. According to the International Trade Centre, MSMEs are the biggest source of untapped growth potential and by 2030, will be generating the bulk of close to 470 million new jobs that will be required by employment. MSMEs in The Gambia account for more than 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and form more than 60 percent of the urban labour force. In this regard, my ministry prioritises the promotion of MSMEs in our development agenda considering the importance and impact the sector has on the livelihoods of the majority of Gambians.”
This year’s theme – “Supporting Sustainable Enterprises: The Gambia @ 50”, according to him, emphasises the need for all players along the value chain to work together to achieve notable economic growth which would trickle down to the poorest Gambians. In his view, The Gambia has for a long time been producing and exporting raw materials with very little focus on value addition.
“Value addition is a major step towards commercialising the agricultural sector as we work towards Vision 2016,” he said, arguing that it is the best strategic path that can transform The Gambia from a net importing nation to a self-sufficient exporting one.
According to him, this is possible by engaging all players in the value chain so that Gambian products can compete in the international markets.
He then outlined why this paradigm shift is imperative. “Furthermore, the need to focus on a more sustainable development path is becoming urgent with every passing day. Stronger private sector engagement in the regional economy can harness opportunities for export-oriented production, whilst greater participation in global and regional value chains can create and expand economic opportunities. The central role of the private sector is increasingly recognised as crucial to addressing development challenges including employment creation,” he said.
Developing this theme further, Papa Yusupha Njie, the first vice president of the GCCI who stood in for GCCI president, stressed the need for a tripartite collaborative effort including the public and private sectors as well as civil society to ensure inclusive growth and development.
He said: “The goal of the [The Gambia] Chamber [of Commerce and Industry] is to realise a deepened business relationship, not just within the Gambian business community, but also [by] establishing strong symbiotic ties between the private sector, the government and civil society. It is without doubt that an effective public-private partnership to ensure sustainable growth and development will go a long way in propelling a sustainable and inclusive growth through employment creation, revenue generation and the enhancement of the livelihood of the Gambian people.”
Reiterating Jobe’s assertion about the importance of MSMEs, Njie said: “Micro Small and Medium Enterprises play an important role in the socio-economic development of The Gambia. We will continue to provide essential business services to all enterprises, particularly MSMEs who constitute over 80 percent of exhibitors for this year’s fair and will continue to act as a central point of contact for Gambian enterprises both internationally and locally, through introductions, match-making, references and trade fairs, amongst others.”]]>