Officially launching the fifth edition of the Gambia International Biennial Trade Fair, President-elect Yahya Jammeh has called on Gambians to patronise homemade products and services saying in doing so each and everyone will be directly and indirectly contributing to wealth creation and poverty reduction in the country.
“This also ties perfectly well with my persistent call for Gambians to produce what we need and to eat what we produce,” the Gambian leader said at the weekend on the official opening of the trade fair on the theme “Made in the Gambia products and services” held by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) at the Independent Stadium in Bakau.
The trade fair brought together over 200 exhibitors, including international participants from Ghana, Senegal, Kenya and Taiwan, into close contacts to build effective partnerships that will positively impact on development of the private sector towards sustainable growth and development.
In a statement read on his behalf by the Vice President, President-elect Jammeh explained that the act of coming together helps to build stronger and healthier business entities that are better poised to take advantage of market access opportunities and to adapt to evolving market demands.
“The international trade fair has immense potential for exposing opportunities for the business community and private sector,” he said.
He noted that trade fair should not only be seen as an event to display products and services, but also and perhaps more importantly, as an opportunity to learn, innovate and improve on your products and services in all aspects.
However, he acknowledged that The Gambia, like other developing countries, faces certain challenges “influenced both by global and internal factors”.
Challenges such as access to finance, value-addition for increased export earning, integration into the global economy and supply-side constraints are but a few that need urgent attention.
According to Jammeh, addressing these challenges through public-private sector partnership constitutes the best development approach, which he says remains a priority for his government.
Aki Allen, GCCI Board 1st vice-president, in his remarks on the occasion, President Jammeh’s call of “let’s grow what we eat and eat what we produce” is a simple statement but full of meaning.
“It means a lot for businesses and individuals,” he noted. “For businesses, when you buy your competitor’s goods or service that you need for your production, you are not only helping that competitor but you are helping yourself to grow as well. By so doing, your competitor will grow and your business also will grow; the Gambian economy as a whole benefits and everybody benefits in the process.”
He continued: “Let’s not see each other only as mere competitors and say ‘Abdou is my competitor so I will not buy from him; I will buy from France’. Each time you buy from France you are contributing to wealth and job creation, and poverty reduction there.”
Mr Allen, a leading business operator in The Gambia, said Gambians should buy from each other so that the money stays in the country for employment and wealth creation.
“Government alone does not create job,” he says. “People create jobs by patronizing each other so that production can expand.
“If people are not buying homemade goods then the local companies will not be able to grow or expand and in the process they would be unable to employ people.”