Tuesday, March 27, 2012

W/Africa Needs Good-Governance to Fight Against Poverty

Economic development and the fight against poverty can only effectively be enhanced under an environment of good governance and transparent management of public finances, Gambia’s Central Bank Governor has told West African financial and economic professionals.

“The centre piece of good governance in public resource management is transparency and accountability,” Governor Amadou Colley said on Monday at the commencement of a two-week regional course on public financial management: budgeting, planning and performance organised by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM).

Cross section of participants
He told the course participants, drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia, that the central element of transparency in the management of public resources is the question of the rules of engagement relating to the bid process for public contracts.

“These should be clearly defined and publicised for the information of all interested parties,” he said.

However, Hon. Colley noted with pride that a good number of countries in the sub-region have embarked on this path by enacting a Public Procurement Act to provide a clear framework.

Monday, March 26, 2012

GYIN secretary general attends Global Greens Congress

Ms Touray
The secretary general of Global Youth Innovation Network – The Gambia, Miss Meita Touray, on Tuesday, left for Dakar, Senegal to attend the third Global Greens Congress, which is the first in Africa.

The congress, to be held from 27th March to 1st April, aims at enhancing and empowering the network between young green activists and organisations around the world, work on a green vision and an action plan for Global Young Greens network, and women empowerment in Africa, amongst others.  The congress is hosted by the Fédération Démocratique des Ecologistes du Sénégal (FEDES) in partnership with the African Green Federation and the Global Greens Coordination,

Miss Meita Touray has been selected by Global Greens to be part of its Global Greens congress delegates.

Shortly before leaving, Ms Touray expressed delight for her nomination as a delegate for the Global Greens Congress, which attracts participants from all over the ‘Green world’ with different cultures, diverse histories, and different languages but all united by a sense of global citizenship and committed to common political values and ideals.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Consumer associations condemn NAWEC’s proposed tariff increment

The Consumer Protection Consortium (CPC), formed by various consumer associations in The Gambia, has condemned the proposed tariff increment by NAWEC describing it as ‘a costly move’ that will make life difficult for people in the country.

“The proposed tariff increase, particularly that of electricity, will have a multiplier effect, as it would translate into higher operational cost for business which will in turn trigger a proportionate rise in the cost of basic goods and services,” Mr Alpha Jallow, a board member of CPC said.

Nawec has proposed to increase the tariff of water, electricity, and sewerage by 33% due to the rising cost of inputs such as fuel and lubricants.

However, though Mr Jallow said the CPC is concerned and acknowledges the plight of Nawec with regard to the current challenges of high operational costs due to rising cost of inputs, the tariff increment will have negative impact on the efforts of the government and consumer associations to stabilize prices of basic commodities to promote sustainable development. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gambians pay high price for electricity

Gambians pay one of highest price for electricity in the world, thus limiting again the access to energy for the population, European Union programme manager, Sylvain Lequere, says.

Speaking at the launching the renewable energy project at a local hotel in The Gambia on 14th March, Mr Lequere reiterated that the rate at which people in Gambians continue to pay for electricity is among the highest in the world.

Mr Lequere said the country’s energy system is currently dealing with major constraints such as ageing power plants, inefficient transmission and distribution system.
Another major constraint, he noted, is the country’s high dependence on fuel coupled with “the legal frameworks that are unfavourable to private investments”.

The consequences of these constraints have gravely resulted into low access to electricity for majority of Gambians. Only 35% of the country’s 1.8 million people have access to power, of which only 6% is for the upcountry.

“This is also limiting the development of the private sector in the country,” Mr Lequere noted.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Petroleum, Teneng Mba Jaiteh, who officially launched the energy project, said the energy situation in the country is characterised by high dependence on biomass fuels, limited access to modern energy services and unsustainable dependence on imported fossil fuel.

“Almost all of The Gambia’s modern energy service requirements are met from imported fossil-based energy sources, which is not only affecting the country’s foreign exchange reserves, thus making the country vulnerable to fluctuations in world oil prices, but it also results in the emission of greenhouse gases,” she said.

IMF recommends immediate fuel price increment for Gambia

Cost of transport and electricity-related services in The Gambia may skyrocket as pump price of fuel in the country is billed for further increase very soon, if the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is anything to go by. 

In its latest report on The Gambia, the IMF has advised the government for an “immediate adjustment in fuel prices” in order to remedy the steady decline of the country’s revenue performance coupled with unanticipated expenditure overruns, higher-than-budgeted spending, which could threaten the country’s macroeconomic stability. 
The Gambia government revenue performance has signaled a downward trend over the years while expenditure has continued to increase giving rise to budget deficit that continues to swell year on year.

With the fuel price increment, the IMF says, the government is expected to collect the full value of excise tax on fuel, although it noted that this adjustment might only provide a modest of the much needed revenue boost.

A Tribute to late Central Bank Governor

Late Famara Jatta
My body is numb, my blood is cold, I only type these words because that is the least I can do to remember a worthy brother, leader and patriot. I cannot remember any piece of news as devastating to me as the death of Famara Jatta, former Finance Minster and Central Bank Governor. He gave his last breath while answering to the supranational call of the African Development Bank where he last worked. May Allah the Most Merciful shower his eternal blessings on his soul in the lofty gardens of Jannatul Firdaus.

I came to know Famara Jatta (fondly called Fams) when he was appointed Governor of the Central Bank in
2003 where I worked as Research Economist. Those were troubled times for our country’s apex financial institution. The Dalasi was at an all-time low against the major international currencies, inflation was high and trust in our economy was nearing its lowest ebb. President Jammeh will certainly never regret the decision of appointing Fams, entrusting him with the management of our economy; and Fams did nobly rise to the occasion.

Monday, March 19, 2012

PIWAMP Holds Successful Annual Consultative Meeting

The Project Management Unit of the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) has held its annual consultative meeting in which stakeholders openly discussed critical issues affecting project implementation and chart a new way forward. 

Held at the Rural Agricultural Farmers Training Centre in Jenoi, Lower River Region, from 16th to 17th March, the 2011 annual consultative meeting brought together the project staff, service providers, and project beneficiaries to reflect over the 2011 activities and come up with sound recommendations to ensure improved delivery.

Speaking on the occasion, the representative of the deputy governor of Lower River Region, Alagie Jatta, urged all participants to devote their time to the forum and discuss pertinent issues with regards to the current ongoing PIWAMP projects and suggest ways of better project design and implementation for upcoming ones.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Action Aid responds to Gambia’s appeal for food aid

Dr Manneh, Action Aid country director for The Gambia
Action Aid International-The Gambia, on Thursday, announced that it will provide 50,000 people with urgently needed food aid and drinking water, as the Gambia government seeks international support following the national crop failure coupled with corresponding soaring of food prices.

The international anti-poverty organization says it will also provide seed and other farming products to help make the next harvest productive as well as help with feeding and watering points for livestock.

Momodou Sabally publishes another inspirational book

Mr Sabally
A motivational speaker and a prolific author of inspirational books and articles, Momodou Sabally has just published a pocket-sized motivational booklet by the title ‘Be My Textmate’, barely one month after he released a new book.

“It is a compilation of motivational text messages I received from friends and colleagues for many years,” Sabally, who is a trained economist, said of his new book which is published by Fulladu Publishers, one of the leading publishing firms in the country.

The collection of SMS messages covers a variety of inspirational quotes, jokes and daily greetings that the author said he found to be a source of motivation in his daily activities.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Electricity, water tariffs to further increase by 33 per cent

The National Water and Electricity Company Limited has proposed to further increase the current tariffs of electricity, water and sewerage services by 33 %, barely one year after the electricity tariff was increased by 16.50% for domestic consumption and19.44% for commercial usage.

Justifying this unpopular move, NAWEC explained that it current tariffs are not sufficient to sustain their operational obligations due to rising cost of inputs such as fuel, lubricants, and spare parts.

Most of the people said the current tariff for electricity in the country “is already high” to be increased, but NAWEC insists that its current tariffs not being sufficient to sustain the company’s operational obligations.  As a result, NAWEC said, they have since resorted to short term borrowing from commercial banks at exorbitant cost and the repayment of investment loans, which is also putting the company under enormous financial stress.

In this vein, the company has filed an application for an upward review of its tariffs to the Public Authority Regulatory Authority (PURA), a multi-sector utilities regulator, including NAWEC offered services.  Accordingly, PURA, as part of its mandate to balance the interest of both the consumers and public utilities, is to stage another Public Hearing on 17th March at Father Pharrel Hall in Westfield. 

IMF urges Gambia to privatize Gamcel

The International Monetary Fund has urged the Gambia government to move forward with plans “for a fully transparent privatization of Gamcel”, national cellular company.

However, it is still unclear whether the government has initial plans to privatise the national cellular company again following a failed attempt at privatizing it together with Gamtel, its parent company, some five years.

In its latest report on The Gambia, released in February, the IMF said such structural reforms would also help eliminate major sources of contingent liabilities that have impaired government finances in recent years.

The report reveals that claims associated with the failed privatization of Gamcel, and spending on contingent liabilities and extra-budgetary items such as bills and debt service owed by the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), which owes millions of dalasi to its major suppliers, were leading sources of government expenditure overruns.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gambia needs $23mn to remedy crop failure, looming food shortage

New Minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens
The Gambia government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has disclosed that it “urgently needed” twenty three million U.S dollars to provide food, seeds, and fertilizer to the entire farming population as the country declared 2011-2012 farming season a failure resulting from severe crop failures and a corresponding soaring of food prices.

A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, formally announcing the national crop failure, stated that the post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season, which was characterised by below-normal and poorly distributed rainfall, indicated a reduction in total crop production of more than 70%.

Gambia to benefit from $14mn IFAD project to boost incomes of women, young farmers

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), following request of The Gambia government, is developing a new agricultural project dubbed ‘the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development (ALAWAMDEP)’ to the tune of fourteen million U.S dollars aim at increasing food security and raise income of smallholders especially women and youths.

The main objective of the ALAWAMDEP is to improve rice and vegetable productivity through land and water management practices taking into account the value chain.  The project will target all the six agricultural regional directorates, nationwide, focusing on women and youth.

IFAD mission team, led by IFAD Country Programme Manager for The Gambia, Mr. Moses Abukari, has recently completed participatory and consultative visits countrywide in order to have first hand information about the current ongoing IFAD projects in the country so as to build on that experience in the new project.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More than 50% of Gambians still in poverty despite improvement in education, health

The latest report of the International Monetary Fund on The Gambia has revealed that majority of Gambia’s 1.8 million people still lives in poverty despite an increment in primary school enrolment and completion, as well as an improvement in immunization, child and maternal mortality.

With the reported “robust economic growth” over the years, the latest survey on the country’s poverty situation states that the 58 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

The IMF report says the Gambia’s progress on reducing poverty has been mixed as various social indicators have shown strong improvement notably in education and health, but “a large share of the population stills lives in poverty”.

Insurance practitioners want self-regulation

Insurance practitioners in The Gambia are calling for the regulation of the insurance industry to be severed from the Central Bank “in order to give the industry it deserved focus and attention”.

Mr Jawo
 Henry Jawo, executive secretary of the Insurance Association of The Gambia, said this is necessary in order to enhance and maintain efficient, safe and stable insurance market and to promote growth and healthy competition in the sector.

Though the Constitution of The Gambia mandated the Central Bank of The Gambia to direct and regulate the financial industry, including insurance industry, “for the interest of the economic development of the country”, many insurance technocrats observed that the Bank is more focused on regulating the banking industry than insurance industry hence the need for the establishment of an independent insurance commission – a specialized autonomous body for the regulation of the insurance industry. 

22% of Gambia’s active labour force unemployed

At least 22 percent of The Gambia’s active labour force is without employment, and more than 40 % of those who are employed live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

Mr Samba Jallow of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, said according to the result of the Integrated Household Survey (IHS), the unemployment rate for the population aged 15 – 64 is 22 per cent but 5 per cent of the surveyed population did not report on their employment status.  Employment rate for the same age group is 73 per cent.

However, he pointed out that 40 per cent of all those who are employed do not earn enough to pull themselves and their families above the poverty line of $1.25 per day.  The working-poor is higher for the population aged 15 – 24 and lowest for the population aged 30 to 34 with 49 per cent and 35 per cent living respectively on less than $1.25 per day.

Insurers showcase indispensable role of insurance in economic development

 The Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) have recently dedicated a whole week, 19 – 25th February, to increase the general public’s understanding of insurance and insurance policies so as to showcase the crucial and potential roles that the industry plays economic development.

A series of activities were held as part of the Insurance Awareness Week geared towards drawing the public’s attention to the noble profession of insurance in order to contribute in providing better understanding of basic insurance and to develop public interest on insurance so as to pave way for a more insurance responsive public.

This is among the many steps that the IAG have taken towards erasing the poor public image that the Gambia insurance industry has been suffering from over the years despite the critical roles that it plays in economic development. 

GYIN-Gambia Interim Executive Meets IFAD Country Programme Manager

The Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN)-Gambia planned executive led by Mamadou Edrisa Njie, GYIN Gambia Ambassador, had a meeting with the Country Programme Manager, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Moses Abukari on the operational of GYIN-Gambia as well as to introduce the planned executive.

GYIN-Gambia executive
The meeting, held at the Roc Height Lodge in Cape Point, Bakau on 22nd February, was aimed at briefing the IFAD Country Programme Manager about the activities and programmes GYIN-Gambia intended to carry out in the country.

At the meeting, Mr. Mamadou Edrisa Njie national coordinator GYIN-Gambia spoke at length about GYIN (www.gyin.org), saying that it was in October 2011 that he (Njie) was selected among a good number of youths from Africa, America, Asia, Middle East and Europe to attend the global launching of the network in Cotonou, Benin.

Momodou Sabally discusses three points to success

Momodou Sabally
A motivational speaker and a prolific author of inspirational books and articles, Momodou Sabally, in this article discussed “three points to success” drawing lessons from Jeremy Lin, a basketball player in New York, whose rise to stardom was preceded by being underestimated and overlooked, disregarded by coaches.  However, Sabally said Lin’s success did not happen overnight, three key points contributed to his unimaginable, spectacular success.
Read on to find out and learn from this inspirational masterpiece!