Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gulf secures $19 billion in West African Projects : Where's The Gambia

The AP is reporting today from Dubai that eight West African countries, almost all Francophone, agreed Tuesday to $19 billion worth of infrastructure deals with the lion's share going toward a massive road and railway project.

The countries that will benefit are all of the CFA Franc zone countries i.e. Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo and Guinea-Bissau.

The fact that The Gambia is conspicuously absent from this massive investment program despite recent diplomatic shift in emphasis by the Jammeh regime to the Gulf speaks volumes about the country's image within the West African region and around the world.

The fact that the investment package excludes non-Francophone countries, most of whom have seen sizable though separate investment packages, is not an excuse for excluding The Gambia from such massive injection of investment capital in a program that includes Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.

Precedence have been set by the same CFA-zone countries in a little known but similar program with India which was dubbed Team 9, representing the same countries but The Gambia was included.  The tractors and other Mahindra products that Jammeh distributes frequently as gifts from him to Gambian farmers came from the Team-9 investment program.  The TATA bus assembly plant in Senegal was part of the same program.

It appears that all the diplomatic posts that the regime have opened throughout the Gulf are not bringing in any returns on investment, and as one of my sources quipped "I thought we had a very proactive foreign policy" and he added sarcastically that "we are obviously waiting on the second or third round of the project."

A total of 16 agreements have been signed at the investment forum including a $700 million dry-port development project in Cote d'Ivoire.  The huge potential for growth and expansion is what is driving Gulf States investors in a region that is politically unstable but who are nonetheless taking a long-term view.