The Gambia government has developed a medium term national development strategy by which it hopes to transform the country into a middle income level by 2015, if the strategy is fully implemented and all objectives met.
With the four-year development strategy dubbed Programme for Accelerate Growth and Employment (PAGE), which runs from 2012 to 2015, the government intends to register equitable growth in the national economy as well as create decent employment for Gambians.
According to President Yahya Jammeh, through the PAGE, the government hopes to significantly improve the rate of investment in the productive sectors, modernize the infrastructural base, and create a vast pool of skilled and healthy populace to manage available resources more effectively and efficiently.
The page project is estimated to cost US$651.52 million 35% of which will be provided by the Gambia government, according to a statement by the Gambia government, who is bent on ensuring that the four-year programme is implemented as planned.
Apart from the government’s 35% funding commitment, there is no funding as of now for the PAGE.
In this vein, the government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, organised a two-day conference on resource mobilization and investment for the PAGE at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi on 12 and13 July this year.
The conference brought together major development partners to discuss the strategic priorities of the PAGE to enable them to pledge resources, financial and technical, for the effective implementation of the Programme.
“The overall cost of funding the PAGE is huge and would require the employment of innovative financing methods if we were to garner the funds,” President Yahya Jammeh said in a keynote address delivered on his behalf by Vice-President Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy.
In the statement, President Jammeh said funding the PAGE would also require fiscal discipline and a sustained battle against corruption and waste.
After the 35% commitment of the Gambia government towards the PAGE, the additional amount estimated for the PAGE is expected to be financed through loans, grants, and private sector investment.
He also urged the private sector to remain committed to its partnership with government, saying: “I enjoin the private sector to continue to be agents of wealth creation and growth and to venture into the industrial sector and place The Gambia on the path of industrialization.”
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon. Abdou Kolley, also called on the private sector to grasp the opportunities the PAGE offers for both local and foreign direct investment to further establish mutually beneficial partnerships with government such as public-private partnerships.
He noted that the PAGE appears to be an ambitious programme “but not unachievable”.
He as well called on The Gambia’s development partners, local, bilateral and multilateral, to support the effective implementation of the PAGE by providing financial and technical resources, as well as by engaging in policy dialogue.
However, the successful implementation of the PAGE depends on the extent at which development partners and the private sector support it.