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Monday, July 22, 2024

Having the mindset for realising The Gambia’s dream

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Realizing a country’s dream is a monumental task that requires a multifaceted approach, touching upon various aspects of national development programmes and projects. It encompasses social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions and demands the collective effort of the government, private sector, and civil society. We can recall that Pastor Francis Forbes in his recent weekly TV programme called, ‘Discovering the Truth’ rhetorically asked, what is The Gambian dream, are we living the dream and how do we realise it. These are pertinent questions of huge concern that need to be addressed headlong. How do we realise The Gambian dream? In this treatise, we will address how to realise The Gambian dream.

A nation’s dream is a vision of its ideal future, where prosperity, equality, and sustainability are realized. This vision may vary depending on the unique context, values, and aspirations of its people. However, common themes often include economic growth, social justice, environmental sustainability, and good governance. The process of realizing this dream involves setting clear goals, creating actionable plans, mobilizing resources, and maintaining the momentum for continuous improvement and sustainability.

One of the key steps in realizing a country’s dream and aspiration (in this case, The Gambian dream) is to properly articulate a vision and set a goal that captures the collective aspirations of the nation. This vision should be inclusive, reflecting the diverse needs and desires of different social groups and classes of people in The Gambia. Aside, the country should as a matter of necessity set out Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound (SMART) goals. The vision should be broken down into specific goals that can be measured and tracked over time. These goals should be ambitious, yet realistic, addressing key areas such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, economic growth, and environmental protection.

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More significantly, realising The Gambian dream needs pragmatic economic development efforts and sustainable economic growth. The Gambia government should focus on policies that stimulate economic growth while ensuring sustainability. This includes investing in renewable energy for regular power supply, promoting green technologies, and encouraging sustainable agricultural practices. The government of the country should actively engage in innovations and entrepreneurship. It should create an enabling environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. This can be achieved through supportive policies, access to capital, and investment in Research and Development (R.D).  Encouraging startups (beginners) and small businesses can drive economic diversification and job creation.

Another key step forward in realising The Gambia dream is to massively engage in infrastructure development. This involves developing robust infrastructure to support economic activities. This includes a good transportation network, energy supply, water and sanitation systems, and digital infrastructure. Effective infrastructure reduces costs, improves efficiency, and enhances the quality of life of the citizenry. As a matter of fact, the government should promote trade and foreign investment by creating a favourable business environment. This includes reducing bureaucratic red tape, ensuring political stability, and protecting intellectual property rights. Trade agreements can open new markets for domestic products and services.

The Gambian dream cannot be realistic if we do not invest in in education and human Capital at all levels, ensuring access to quality education for all citizens. Much emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education to build a workforce capable of driving technological innovations and development. Equally, we should embark on vocational training and skills development by providing programmes to equip individuals with the skills needed in the job market and to be self reliant. Aligning these programmes with industry need to ensure employment opportunities for all categories of graduates in The Gambia.

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The most significant and enduring step towards realising The Gambian dream is through the expansion of higher education and research. Strengthening higher education institutions and promoting research and development centres will suffice in bringing about the needed change. We should encourage collaborations between universities and industries to drive innovations and economic growth. In today’s world, more and more people are engaging in thoughtful discussions about the benefits of higher education, considering it not just as a traditional path but as an opportunity to expand horizons, gain life experiences, and open doors to career paths. According to UNESCO, Higher Education is rich cultural and scientific asset, which enables personal development and promote economic, technological and social change. 

Higher Education has served as a key pillar of society for decades. It contributes to the development of a successful society and boosts economic growth, competition and knowledge. In this regard, the Universities in The Gambia and other Universities in the country should expand their curricula to accommodate the needs of modern Gambian society. They should provide students with the opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. 

For The Gambian dream to be realised, there should be a common healthcare and social welfare programmes and projects. The government should ensure access to affordable and quality healthcare for all citizens. Investing in healthcare infrastructure, training more healthcare professionals, and implementing preventive care programmes to reduce the burden of disease. Health services are fundamental to society and the economy, with health care recognized as a basic human right essential for safeguarding the health and safety of populations. There is no health care without health workers. Similarly, the government should establish what I call Social Safety Nets (SSN). Developing social safety nets is to ostensibly protect vulnerable and less privileged populations. This may include but not limited to unemployment benefits, disability support, and old-age pensions. Social safety nets can reduce poverty and inequality, thereby contributing to social stability and sense of belonging to a polity.

In the same vein, public health initiatives could be implemented to address major health challenges such as infectious diseases, epidemics, maternal and child health, and lifestyle-related illnesses. Promote healthy lifestyles through education, sensitization and community-based programmes on health creation awareness.

For The Gambia dream to be achieved in no distant time there should be good governance and strong institutions. It should promote good governance practices, including transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. Strengthen institutions to ensure they are effective and free from corruption and unnecessary influence by the powers that be. It should be noted that good governance builds trust and creates a stable environment for development. Moreso, empowering the Administrative Regions in The Gambia and Municipal Councils across the country and communities to make decisions that affect their lives and welfare should be hugely encouraged. Decentralization can lead to more responsive and effective governance, tailored to the specific needs of different regions and localities. We should also ensure a fair and just legal system that protects the rights of all citizens and residents irrespective of classes. Promote human rights and equality, addressing issues such as discrimination, religious bias and prejudices and gender inequality.

A good environmental sustainability is akin to realising The Gambia’s dream. In this regard, we should take proactive steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and building resilient infrastructure. At the same time, we should manage natural resources sustainably to prevent depletion and degradation and desert encroachment. Implement policies for sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fishing to ensure long-term environmental health. A good environment cannot be sustained if we cannot protect biodiversity and natural habitats through conservation efforts. Establish protected areas, promote sustainable tourism, and engage communities in conservation activities. More importantly, we should engage in cultural preservation and promotion. Preserving and promoting the nation’s cultural heritage will show case the rich culture of the country to the outside world. Support the arts, celebrate cultural diversity, and foster a sense of national identity and pride.

Social inclusion is paramount in realising a country’s dream. We can do so by promoting social inclusion and cohesion by addressing issues of marginalization, tribalism and discrimination. Ensure that all social groups have a voice in the national dialogue, national interest and equal access to opportunities and then strengthening communities through development programmes that enhance social bonds and mutual support. Encourage civic participation and volunteerism to build a sense of shared responsibility for the interest of the nation.

For The Gambia our homeland to develop and realise its dreams there be technological development and innovations. This can be achieved through embracing digital technologies to drive development across all sectors of the economy. Invest in digital infrastructure, promote digital literacy, and encourage the use of technology in education, healthcare, and governance. The country should invest in research and development to drive innovation. Encourage public and private sector collaboration to develop new technologies and solutions to national challenges and finally, ensures that all citizens have access to technology. This includes providing affordable internet access, distributing digital devices, and offering training programmes to build digital skills.

The Gambia as a country does not and should not exist in isolation, hence there is the avowed need for international relations and diplomacy. We should build strong international partnerships to support national development goals. Engage in diplomatic efforts to foster cooperation, trade, and direct foreign investment. We should also seek development assistance and expertise from international organizations and donor countries. Effective use of development aid can accelerate progress in key areas such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. At the same time, we should promote regional and global peace and security. Engage in conflict resolutions and peacebuilding efforts to create a stable environment for Gambian development.

For the country to realise its cardinal dream, there should be strategic planning, implementation and monitoring. Developing a comprehensive strategic plan that outlines the steps needed to achieve the national vision. This plan should include short-term and long-term goals, timelines, and responsible parties. In terms of resource mobilization, we can mobilize resources from various sources; including government budgets, private sector investments, and international aid and efficiently allocate resources to priority areas to maximize impact. After all these actions and steps there is an apparent need for monitoring and evaluation. The government should implement a robust monitoring and evaluation system to track progress towards the national goals and dreams. Then use data and feedback to make informed decisions and adjust strategies as needed.

In order to realise a country’s dream, all hands must be on deck in the development project. In all government policies and programmes the masses should be carried along. The government may conduct public awareness campaigns to inform citizens about national goals, dreams and initiatives. Use various media channels to reach different segments of the population. This will encourage citizens participation in the development process. Create platforms for public input and feedback, and involve citizens in decision-making processes.

Citizens are the backbone of a country’s development. Having a mindset in active involvement, responsibility and dedication to various aspects of national life drive progress and ensure a prosperous future for all. Having a mindset for hardworking propensity, resilience, perseverance in our collective actions can assist in realising our dreams as a country. We should have the mind set of tolerance, understanding and cooperation among diverse ethnic groups in the country. A harmonious and inclusive society is more resilient and better positioned to achieving collective goals.   Overall, having the mindset for The Gambia’s collective development and realisation of its dreams requires a change of attitude, orientation, perception and sincerity of purpose in all that we do.  

In conclusion, realizing a country’s dream is a complex and ongoing process that requires vision, commitment, and collaboration. It involves setting clear goals, implementing effective strategies, and continuously monitoring progress. By addressing key areas such as economic development, education, healthcare, governance, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion, a nation can move closer to achieving its aspirations. Engaging all stakeholders, including the government, private sector, civil society, and citizens, is crucial for success. Through collective effort and determination, a country can transform its vision into reality and create a prosperous and sustainable future for all its citizens.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back; a new life, a new friend, a new love and a new country.

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