The first Gambia - Senegal Economic Forum concluded today in the Senegalese capital of Dakar that was attended by a strong Gambian delegation led by Her Excellency Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia.
The Forum brought together private sector operators from both countries to discuss prospects for closer economic ties that will lead to the integration of the two economies. However, for this fete to be achieved, both The Gambia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President, Muhammad Jagana and Senegal's Serigne Mboup, President of National Union of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture identified common obstacles namely excessive border controls that impede free movements of goods and people.
The lack of good road infrastructure which may partially explain the high cost of road, air and see transport between Banjul and Dakar. It was pointed out that it cost as much to travel between the capital by air as it is between Dakar and Paris. "To ship a container from the Port of Dakar to the Port of Banjul costs a lot more that to ship one destined for Europe" according to Serigne Mboup. There is thus the need to review existing policies in both Senegal and The Gambia to remove some of these impediments that add to the cost of doing business which, in turn, slows down the process of integrating the two economies.
Harmonization of the telecommunication protocols, particularly as it relates to the mobile industry, must be a priority of the governments of the two countries and as a result the Gambian President of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry president appealed to the two Heads of State to help make it a reality.
The Senegalese President of the National Union of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture urged his government and Senegalese business operators to try and replicate the single structure model that acts as an umbrella for all the business community that interface with the government.
Although the governments of the two countries are committed to strengthening of the bilateral relations to form a strong strategic partnership, the success of this new push will depend on how quickly the constraints that impede the process of achieving the economic integration of the two countries are removed. The two governments were urged by both delegations to work to achieving this goal.