The Gambia getting it right (Rev. Forbes) – my take

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I am not sure that The Gambia would have been the continent’s pride, but as a country we should have by now gone very far in meeting the basic needs of all Gambians.

First of all, the country has its constraints, some we cannot do much about such as the size of the country, poor resource endowment, its diversity,its geography ( almost landlocked) but for the ocean . Other constraints like poor infrastructure, low literacy rate, low economic growth, high population density and rapid urbanisation can be seen as challenges to be addressed.

The country has made many gains in many areas since independence.

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However we should be able to move forward much more rapidly if we can focus our energies on:

1.         political stability: agree on a new constitution and introduce compulsory national service for the young (18-35 years). We must organise ourselves to defend the country from all forms of aggression. The responsibility for the security of the country should be every body’s responsibility for the slogan “Never Again” to be a reality.

2.         Good governance in all its form, zero tolerance for corruption and uphold the rule of law and an independent Judiciary.

3.         Developing agriculture much more rapidly by promoting financial inclusion and lending to farmers as well as support for the commercialisation of the sector up the value chain. A strong agricultural base would ensure food security and build the foundation for agri based industries as well as provide employment.

4.         Provide quality education to our children by ensuring equity in education. All schools must be publicly financed and monitored. Teacher training must be enhanced and upgraded and remuneration of teachers improved to attract the best in the teaching profession.

5.         Develop public health, primary health care giving access to health to all.

6.         Environmental quality which includes a robust protection of our limited land and water resources. Improved land use and waste disposal.

7.         The quality of life would be improved by promoting affordable and low cost housing for the citizenry, giving families the environment for child development and good health.

8.         Infrastructure deficit, port expansion given a high degree of priority, the expansion of alternative forms of energy, solar, wind etc.

9.         We are absorbing new technology at a very high rate. The digital revolution is a key driver to prosperity, it opens up new services, markets, education etc. The new technology must be embraced and effective strategies developed and concrete action taken to empower our people with the necessary digital competence and a robust regulatory environment that protects the Security and interests of all.

Abdou Sara Janha