Since the defeat of ex-president Jammeh in 2016, The Gambia became a darling to the European Union. Shortly after the inauguration of President Adama Barrow in January 2017, the European Union (E.U) boosted the transition period with 225 million Euros to fill the gaps left by Yahya Jammeh; bringing some amount of hope and optimism to the great people of The Gambia. Since then, the E.U did not leave the Barrow government alone but continue to stand by the administration to effect the change that everyone is yearning for.
Fifteen months after, The Gambia has been given a platform, "The Gambia Summit", to convince international donors to fund The Gambia National Development Plan (2018-2021) which according to the figures tallied to USD1.6 billion. How convinced and optimistic was the Gambian delegation that they will walk out of the capital of Europe with this lofty sum being attained...fortunately, President Barrow was met by pledges totaling to USD1.7 billion (1.46 billion Euros). The E.U further responded to The Gambian call by pledging an extra 140 million Euros to invest in opportunities strengthening the democratization process for the Republic of The Gambia.
These pledges are meant to help The Gambia obtain the priorities of the National Development Plan. This eight points national blueprint which was convincingly tabled before donors by President Barrow targets key areas such as restoring good governance, respect for human rights, rule of law and empowering citizens through decentralization and local governance. It also focuses on stabilizing and transforming the economy, stimulating growth; modernization of agriculture and fisheries for sustainable economic growth, food security and poverty eradication. It also dwells on improved education and health services with a caring society; infrastructure and energy to power the economy and promoting an inclusive and culture-centred tourism sector. The document also aims to make the private sector the engine of growth, transformation and job creation and reaping the demographic dividend through an empowered youth population.
The document also has seven crosscutting factors to compliment the eight-point strategic priorities and they are an efficient and responsive public sector, women empowerment, Gambian diaspora contributions to national development, promoting environmental sustainability, climate-resilient communities and appropriate land use. The seven points include making The Gambia a digital nation and creating a modern information society, a civil society that is engaged and serves as a national development partner and lastly strengthening evidence-based policy, planning and decision making.
The morning session was followed by a panel discussion where Gambia government officials, E.U, U.N and A.U representatives had a fruitful interactive session with delegates. The Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou presented a paper on democratic transition and improving the quality of institutions. Mr Tambedou dwelt on various issues including the sensitive Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission, Gambianization of the judiciary, violation of human rights during Jammeh's era noting that the constitution was amended fifty- two times during Yahya Jammeh's tenure. He also said the end of the dictatorship has exposed.
The Gambia to Jammeh's atrocities which are a burden to the new government. Speaking on constitutional reform, Tambedou said the Constitutional Consultative Committee recommends drafting of a new constitution which will include presidential term limit among other pertinent issues.
Mr E. Faal, a prominent Gambian international lawyer said the new Gambia needs an independent and competent judiciary. Faal said Jammeh applied a methodical and systematic attack on government officials and after rendered everyone inefficient by compromising professional credibility and rule of law. He preached on national allegiance and criticized worship of leaders.
The International Conference for The Gambia will be followed by a Business Forum today Wednesday 23rd 2018, which will bring together interested European, regional and Gambian business representatives for exchanges on sector-specific strategies and projects during panel discussions on Energy & Infrastructure, Agricultural Value Chains, and Tourism.