Allow me to use your medium to say that it is high time that local industries took a path to innovation which is key to industrial growth. We have entered a difficult period in our development. It is becoming increasingly clear that we have to promote local production for export in order to sustain the growth of our economy. Local production for export is the formula of economic growth anywhere in the world. Example, Sweden is home to IKEA, a global furniture company, and Volvo, known worldwide as the epitome of car safety. The small Scandinavian country scores highly on innovation rankings, but this was not always the case. At the turn of the century, the Swedish economy performed poorly until a solution was found in creating a national culture of innovation. Core curriculum changes were made to encourage children to explore ideas and create. The manufacturing industry thrives on innovation, usually the result of research and development. For the past few years the United States’ manufacturing sector has seen fast growth in the field of computers and electronics. Korea has also emerged as a technological giant, thanks to its Samsung products. This area has seen massive innovation in the past decade as the world moved from simple mobile phones to smartphones. Now there is industrial internet, which is seen as the next revolution in industry that calls for new approaches in manufacturing. The question is, if we in The Gambia have not yet even caught up to 3D printing, how shall we keep up with industrial internet? A skilled workforce is necessary to spark the industrial revolution we seek. We need people who do not only know what has already been done but can solve problems and come up with new ideas that can be applied both locally and at the global level. We need innovation to spur growth. However, innovation needs creativity, tenacity, and risk-taking. We need to plant these seeds in our education curriculum. In this technological age where children grow up with smartphones and cheap internet connectivity, it is possible to emulate Sweden’s success. Higher education should be a catalyst of industrialisation. Teachers and schools are the key agents to ensuring that graduates’ skills sets are relevant.
Provide job opportunities
Year in, year out, Gambian secondary and tertiary institutions produce graduates in the face of high rate of unemployment in the country. The government needs to provide more job opportunities for Gambian graduates for the purpose of reducing poverty and the high dependency in the country. Palliative measures need to be put in place by the government to reverse the ugly situation. Poverty has changed the lifestyle of Gambians in terms of basic necessities of life. If we want to such people to move out of poverty, then it is important for us to come up with measures that will create the necessary opportunities for employment. We should also understand that without urgent action to develop our young jobseekers into a skilled and experienced workforce, the country’s viability as an as an innovative and competitive market is at risk. Such an exceptional problem requires a coherent and coordinated response. Any skills and jobs programme should target a wide range of projects in both the public and private sectors which actively promote youth employment measures. Financing of investment, working capital and youth oriented training programmes should all be put into consideration. Equally, such initiative should foster youth employment programmes promoted by the public sector, such as investment in educational facilities. Providing more jobs opportunities is needed now more than ever.