Saturday, May 12, 2018

GCCI President Farewell Speech during the Annual Business Award Dinner

Muhammad M. Jagana, Outgoing President of GCCI 
As the President of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you all for joining us today as we celebrate some of the key players of the private sector, excellence and the key role of business in our economy.

Today we will recognize the importance of women in the Gambian business community and our economy at large, we will recognize those supporting SMEs that account for over 90% of businesses in the Gambia. We will also recognize the leading businesses in our economy and acknowledge the individuals who create such a positive contribution in the private sector of The Gambia.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen 

As both the President of GCCI and an entrepreneur, it has indeed been a great honour and privilege serving the GCCI, the business community, and people of the Gambia, by not only helping and creating employment but also adding to the country’s tax base.

I have been President for the last five years and served this wonderful institution in various capacities for some 16 years, during this time I have seen my passion for private sector led growth strengthened. My time with the GCCI has provided me with the tools to steer my drive to bring about positive and instrumental change in The Gambia.
This will be my last Business Awards Dinner as GCCI President. The first quarter of 2019 sees my term expire, but before I bid farewell I would like to touch on a few key points.

Throughout my time serving the Chamber, I have had the chance to meet with key players in both the private and public sectors; I have met international partners in the Gambia and abroad; all sharing the same desire to provide support to the private sector and promote Gambia as an investment destination.

During this time under my leadership as the Chairman of the Trade Fair Committee, together with the late Zackariah Sillah and MasterPlan, we have transformed the design of the trade fair stalls. They are now re-usable, thus saving the TFGI millions of dalasi over the years.  

With the unwavering support of the Board and Staff of GCCI, we have directed this institution with the best governance and management practices, which is reflected in annual increase of our turnover from GMD8.7M in 2013 to GMD19.4M for the financial year ending 31st December 2017.
The GCCI has vastly expanded our MSME, Youth, Women and introduced Startup membership over the past five years. This has been clearly demonstrated during the last TFGI in April, with a dedicated Youth Pavilion.

The GCCI under my tenure as President adopted technology in communicating with our members, general business community, partners and the world at large. Today the President, CEO and Kerr Jula have a dedicated Twitter handle, Kerr Jula is very vibrant and active on FB, Youtube, and our web portal is used for communication and dissemination of information.

Kerr Jula also has an APP that can be downloaded from both Google and Apple stores.
As part of the drive to achieving efficiency in our service delivery the Chamber has started digitalizing some of our services.  

Currently all Certificates of Origins are generated Digitally, our Accounting system is totally integrated into online systems that allows management to have an eagle eye’s view. This is done through a platform call CATENA and MMS. Both systems are accessible by management from any location across the global (of course with a functioning internet).

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, it is evident that the Gambia has a lot of potential especially with such a large young population with innovative ideas, our great Gambian daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and grandmothers who work tirelessly to support their families and engage in businesses. I believe that with the right environment, the Gambian private sector is ripe for development and ready for significant economic growth.

I am grateful to you all for having given me this opportunity to be of service. My time in GCCI has been an instructive journey which has compelled me to think beyond the present and understand the larger picture, this lesson I will carry with me.

During the launching of the NBC, I urged the Government to take up the issue of Local Content Advocacy and put in the required legislation and regulations to make it happen.

It is important that Gambian Entrepreneurs, Women and Youth businesses are encouraged to participate in key sectors of our economy if we want to develop our country into a successful and inclusive nation, we know it can be.
It has been a very important objective of mine to expand GCCI beyond the greater Banjul area during my tenure as President, and it with great enthusiasm that I announce that GCCI plans to open an office in Basse, URR one of the key regions to better serve our Gambian population outside of the Greater Banjul Area. I do hope as President this would be concluded before I leave office.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my fellow board members, over the years we have built trust and established a strong rapport. We have come a long way, the Secretariat is now a close-knit team, full of enthusiasm and zeal. I thank the entire GCCI Staff for working so hard and diligently to push forward the private sector agenda, and finally our members that have been the backbone of GCCI, we thank you and we will continue to be the strong voice of business.

I would like to borrow a quote from President Obama in his farewell speech - “Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic oppourtunity’.

In the same vein 

“The Gambian economy won’t work without a sense that everyone has an oppourtunity to participate in it”

On that note, I bid you farewell.