By Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
The Government of The Gambia and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) had signed a loan financing agreement that would bolster the quality of education provided by University of The Gambia (UTG).
The ID (Islamic Dinar) 10.620 million project - equivalent to US$15.672 million or GMD 456.83 million – which was signed in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the 25th October this year, by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Abdou Kolley on behalf of The Gambia Government, and Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of IDB Group, on behalf of IDB, would improve both access to, and quality of higher education in The Gambia.
Pic. Source: UTG
The project aims to improve access to higher education by construction and equipping of faculty of arts and sciences, faculty of business and public administration, and faculty of information technology and communications; construction of general administration, registrar and accounting buildings, as well as a library, construction of 540 hostels for students and 40 residences for lecturers, and acquisition of the relevant equipment and furniture for the concerned infrastructure.
The project aims to improve the quality of higher education by providing in-service training for at least 17 lecturers of the UTG at academic institutions in IDB member countries, revision of the curriculum of UTG in order to make it more relevant to the job market and socio economic environment, twining arrangement with IDB member countries universities as well as staff exchange will be carried out, and acquisition of teaching and learning materials and equipments.
Tabling the loan financing agreement at the National Assembly in Banjul, on Monday 13th December 2010, for ratification, the Minister of Minister, Hon. Abdou Kolley told the parliamentarians that this project is the second in a series of co-financing instruments for the UTG Project. He reminded the legislators that they have ratified the Kuwaiti Fund Financing Agreement on the 12th September this year, during their 3rd sitting for 2010 legislative year, which is the first co-financing instrument for the Project.
Hon. Kolley told the National Assembly Members that the Arab Bank for Economic Development of Africa (BADEA) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) appraised their own components of the UTG Project during the first week of November, 2010 and are expected to present their appraisal reports to their respective Boards in December, 2010.
“Once these two approvals are secured, this will close the financing gap for the first phase of the UTG Project estimated at US$53 million,” he said.
While reiterating the government’s commitment to the University of The Gambia Project, Hon. Kolley said “I take this opportunity to thank our development partners for their support and cooperation”.
The Finance Minister recalled that when he was presenting the Kuwaiti Fund Financing Agreement for consideration and approval of the parliamentarians “I did indicate that a project Implementation Unit was to be set up under the office of the president”.
“For the sake of expediency, Cabinet has now decided that the Project be implemented through the Project Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology as executing agency. The project steering committee comprising of Ministries of Higher Education, Finance, Works, and Offices of the President and Vice Chancellor, has been established to oversee the implementation of this important project,” he explained.
While seconding the motion, Hon. Nyang Njie, National Assembly Member for Jeshwang described the loan agreement as a “non controversial agreement” saying that it is technically sound, economically and socially justified.
Hon. Njie urged her other colleagues to give their blessing to the agreement and ratify it.
Hon. Paul Mendy, National Assembly Member for Kombo South also reiterated that the loan agreement is not a controversial agreement that “we should belabor on, so therefore I urge Members to consider and ratify it without any delay”.
For Babanding KK Daffeh, National Assembly Member for Kiang Central, if the purpose of the loan agreement is fulfilled, we shall never regret.
The Majority Leader and National Assembly Member for Serekunda East, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said investing in human capital is the surest way of developing a nation; noting that the loan is a laudable initiative.
At the end of the debate, lawmakers considered and ratified the loan agreement.