Give me space in your fantastic newspaper to write about the above subject matter. Looking at the business climate, there are a lot of areas which need improvement. I am glad that the single window business registration system has been introduced. Trying to register a business in The Gambia before, was a tall order. The red tape and paperwork was so many, so long and so tedious. But now I think all these would be a thing of the past. Bravo to the attorney general and the whole Ministry of Justice [and the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project] for the foresight on this matter. You really know when to effect changes to certain systems which are old school by bringing in new systems in line with standards of best practices. Thank you. In the light of this, there is also the need to reduce taxes especially the expatriate levies on investors. Visas should also be looked into in order to encourage investors to come and invest in the country to boost the economy. Investors interested in agriculture need to be given top priority given the president’s clarion call for food self-sufficiency in 2016.
There is a great need to revive or set up an agricultural bank in the country where investors and businessmen could access long-term borrowing to finance their businesses for more economic growth and development.
Re: Will the dream of African unity ever be realised?
I read with interest the letter by Mr Sulayman A Danso of Bakau New Town in your edition of Monday, June 10th 2014. I concur with the thrust of his article but I must hasten to add that the neoliberal policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank and the violence of corporate-led globalisation have weakened Africa. The principal characteristic of the continent is its weakness and divisions, despite the foundation of the African Union and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The divisions are ideological and political. Neo-colonial ties are still strong with former colonial powers. There are still many foreign military bases and facilities on the continent. Several countries still depend on Western countries for their “security”. France is intervening in Mali and in the Central African Republic in an attempt to help the government push back attacks by rebel groups.
A similar operation took place to help the Chadian government repel a rebel attack that threatened some parts of the capital. These countries are home to foreign military bases and have signed defense agreements with their ‘protectors’. These military bases are also used to launch criminal aggressions against other African countries, as the United States did when it launched air strikes against innocent civilians in Somalia from their air base in Djibouti! France is using its military bases in West Africa – Senegal and Togo to destabilise Cote d’Ivoire.
These examples underscore the vulnerability of the continent and the fragile nature of many States, some of which have all but collapsed, in large part as a result of structural adjustment policies. Africa’s vulnerability is also reflected in the widespread poverty affecting its population, in the deterioration of the health and educational systems and in the inability of many States to provide basic social services for their citizens. Poverty is the result of policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank, using the pretext of the illegitimate debt with the complicity of African governments. This has aggravated economic, financial, political dependence on Western countries and multilateral institutions. Food dependency has dramatically increased. According to the FAO and other UN agencies, more than 43 million Africans suffer from hunger, which kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined! As a result, Africa spends billions of dollars in food imports, paid for by credits and ‘aid’ from western countries and multilateral institutions.
The external dependency and the extreme vulnerability of the continent are also reflected in the surrender of economic policies to the World Bank and western “experts” by many countries.
In view of these formidable challenges, building the United States of Africa may seem an impossible task, a Promethean undertaking. Indeed, one should be sceptical about the ability and willingness of current African leadership to build a genuine African unity. Because not only are the odds overwhelming but also past experience does not show any sign of optimism. Therefore, if African leaders are really serious about achieving this noble objective, they need to make tough and courageous decisions.