Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard, Richard Yoneoka said: “Symbolically, it’s important that we continue the dialogue, discuss and engage fully on the positives and hardships of our relations. We are fully aware of some of the difficulties of our partnership and my government strongly believes that dialogue is the way forward. So we are looking forward to seeing President Yahya Jammeh and the rest of his African counterparts at the summit. It’s important that everyone comes and we discuss on the issues that are of concern to the African leaders. In Washington, we have been trying to ask these [African] governments about what is it that they want to discuss with President Obama. And so, we are trying to incorporate fifty different agendas from all the African leaders into one. It’s quite difficult but we’re working on that. We are starting with the young African leaders and in July, we’ve got 500 young African leaders going to Washington for a fellowship programme and we’re trying to identify some of these young people who will be invited for the summit.”
The US mission chief in Banjul went on to point out that the Obama administration has taken a rational approach to deepen the partnership between America and Africa through trade and investment. He noted that the country’s influence on the continent will continue to grow especially in promoting democracy and development.
He added: “The outcome of the August summit will be dependent on what Africa is going to bring. The partnership between the US and Africa is quite exciting with President Obama visiting the continent twice. We are engaged in almost every African country with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on trade and investment. Trade is really the way to move things forward and I think the future of US – Africa relations is very bright. I’m optimistic about the partnership. Here in The Gambia, things are moving very well but there is need for Gambian businesses to get involved with institutions like the American Chamber of Commerce [Amcham], GCCI and GIEPA. The US Embassy has been crucial partner in supporting The Gambia business sector and we have been complementing the work that the AmCham president is doing. The Gambia needs visionary leaders like him who can lend their expertise and stimulate growth in a responsible manner. There’re lots of programmes and resources that Amcham provides in support of Gambian businesses and it’s important that they take advantage of these opportunities.”
By Lamin Njie]]>