Thursday, August 30, 2012

‘Skye Bank attracts millions of foreign investment into The Gambia’

As part of efforts at creating a niche for itself in a highly competitive banking industry, Skye Bank Gambia Limited has been attracting millions of dollar investments into The Gambia over a short span of time in operation to boost the national economy and define the future business of the bank.
Skye Bank Gambia MD Akim Usuf
“In the last 10 to 11 months, we have been able to attract two very major (foreign) investments into the key sectors of the economy,” said Skye Bank Gambia Limited’ s CEO and Managing Director Akim Yusuf, at a press conference held on Wednesday at the bank’s head office on Kairaba Avenue.  

The conference was meant to showcase the numerous achievements of the bank as it clocks three years in July this year in The Gambia.

One of the investments is in agriculture, Mr Yusuf said, adding that the bank has already attracted US$2m investment into the poultry industry of The Gambia.  

“The factory, that we attracted the investment to, was virtually dead but today it has been revived and revamped thanks to the capital the investor pumped in there,” the Skye Bank CEO pointed out.

Universal Properties Estate resumes business in full force

One of the leading real estate developing agents in The Gambia, Universal Properties, has resumed business in full force after some brief business interruption to settle some internal issues with the British partners of the company, the MarketPlace can reveal.

The company, established in 2009 by Alagie Sanyang, a young enterprising Gambian, offers qualitative services such as sale and letting of quality properties throughout The Gambia as well as complete range of property services including land purchase and land preparation, residential and commercial sales and letting, land purchasing for investment, property valuations, and mortgage advice.

In an interview with MarketPlace at his office located at the FIB Building on Kairaba Avenue, Mr Sanyang said that after the brief interruption, there are lots of good things coming for his customers, “especially those who were all along patiently waiting for the company”.

He said his agency already has a well developed estate in Brufut with 300 plots, which are affordable to low-salary earners. 
“At Universal Properties, our plan is to make housing available to every Gambian, whether rich or poor; we want everybody to have a home as part of our contribution to the development of the country,” he remarked.

According to Mr Sanyang, who is in his late 30s, similar projects, like the one in Brufut, are coming up in Lamin Town and Coastal Road, where they are developing over 120 plots and 76 plots respectively.

Mr Sanyang said:  “The process of acquiring a plot from Universal Properties is very easy.  We are located at FIB Building. Once you come here, we know what you have and we will tell you what we can provide you, and then in no time you have your own piece of land.

Friday, August 24, 2012

More than 750 road traffic accidents occur in Gambia annually, expert says 95% are preventable

Traffic crash
Data from the Gambia police records state that on average, 775 road traffic accidents occur in the Gambia annually over the last ten years.

According to the data, a cumulative total of 7,750 road traffic accidents were officially reported in the country from year 2000 to 2009, the figure excludes unreported cases. Of the officially reported cases, 618 are fatal ones in which many people lost their dear lives. 
According to the data, on average, about 68 people have been losing their lives in road accidents annually over the last 10 years.  The police records also state that about 168 people sustain serious injuries due to road traffic accidents annually.   

According to the police data, majority of the road traffic accidents in The Gambia are due to irresponsible, dangerous and careless driving; exceeding speed limit; inefficient braking system; driving motor vehicles not conform to legal requirement; pedestrian careless crossing of  road; and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Momodou Gassama of the World Health Organization country office in The Gambia, and a road traffic accident expert, says 95% of all road traffic crashes are preventable.

“Drinking and driving increases the risk of a crash, which could result to death or serious injury,” Mr. Gassama said.

Gov’t urged to establish stock exchange market

Abdoulie Baks Touray, president of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), has said many big corporations around the world today started as a sole ownership and end up coming together to form big businesses with diverse ownerships through established and organised stock exchanges.

Mr Touray
He says if the government could first create the legal instrument for its existence, a stock exchange market would greatly help in turning small businesses into giant corporations that would drive the Gambian economy into the likes of Singapore and other emerging economies and industrialised  nations.  It would also create space for a fluid financial and capital market.

Explaining an instance by which small businesses can become big corporations through the stock exchange market, Mr Touray said: “For instance, you came in as an individual to start MarketPlace newspaper; later on you realised that you need to expand the business, so you go to the stock exchange market to float your shares for interested investors to take ownership then the business becomes an ‘invisible hand’, a corporation that is largely beyond the control of individual firms.” 

He also cited the case of Henry Fords, founder of Ford Motor Company, who started the company as an individual but later floated its shares in a stock exchange and people took ownership of it and the company became an ‘invisible hand’.

Gambia private sector told to grow from toddling

Economic operators in The Gambia have been urged to form mergers to maintain bigger companies and corporations if they are to contribute meaningfully to the economic development of the country.

Abdou Kolley, minister of finance and economic affairs
Finance and economic affairs minister Abdou Kolley has said small individual enterprises cannot make substantial progress in the development of the country.

“The best way for the private sector to make an impact in this country is that they have to be willing and ready to open, join together and form larger corporations,” Minister Kolley said.

In this way, even government’s support to them will be easier because it is easy to support a few established companies than thousands of individual small companies, he says.

“So it is better for them to really come together and work with government in order to help us achieve the objective set for this country,” he added, saying:  There are great potentials for growth for the private sector, but this cannot be tapped by individual companies simply because they may not have the adequate financing to expand into the untapped areas but if they form conglomerates they will have solid capital for significant undertakings.”


Money laundering is the criminal's way of trying to ensure that, in the end, crime pays. It is necessitated by the requirement that criminals -- be they drug traffickers, organised criminals, terrorists, arms traffickers, blackmailers, or credit card swindlers -- disguise the origin of their ill-gotten money so they can avoid detection and the risk of prosecution when they use it.

Author: Mr. Amaru Bah
Money laundering is critical to the effective operation of virtually every form of transnational and organised crime. Anti-money-laundering efforts, which are designed to prevent or limit the ability of criminals to use their ill-gotten gains, are both a critical and effective component of anti-crime programmes.

Money laundering generally involves a series of multiple transactions used to disguise the source of financial assets so that those assets may be used without compromising the criminals who are seeking to use them. These transactions typically fall into three stages: (1) placement -- the process of placing unlawful proceeds into financial institutions through deposits, wire transfers, or other means; (2) layering -- the process of separating the proceeds of criminal activity from their origin through the use of layers of complex financial transactions; and (3) integration -- the process of using an apparently legitimate transaction to disguise illicit proceeds. Through these processes, a criminal tries to transform the monetary proceeds derived from illicit activities into funds with an apparently legal source.

Money laundering has potentially devastating economic, security, and social consequences. It provides the fuel for drug dealers, terrorists, illegal arms dealers, corrupt public officials, and others to operate and expand their criminal enterprises.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thousands of Gambians at risk of hunger, malnutrition

Thousands of Gambians, particularly children, mothers with babies and pregnant women, are vulnerable to hunger, undernourishment and malnutrition in the coming three months as the World Food Programme that provides feeding to most of these “hungry Gambians” faces huge funding shortage which could affect their aid programme in the coming months, this paper has gathered.

World Food Programme offices in The Gambia is currently facing a funding shortfall of US$3.89 millions hence appeals to more donor support and guidance to continue to play a leading role in combating hunger which has increased in the country over the past few months as a result of the crop failure.

The funding shortfalls could lead to providing less food to fewer people, and also prioritizing lifesaving assistance at the cost of more long-term efforts.

WFP Gambia Country Representative Vitoria Ginga said as a strategy to raise the most needed funding, the agency is calling on both local and international donors to support them to continue the humanitarian exercise of providing lifesaving food to crisis-hit Gambians, especially in this raining season during which poor households find it difficult to put food on the table.

Standard Chartered Bank at risk of losing banking licence

Standard Chartered Group chief executive Peter Sands
The parent company of Standard Chartered Bank Gambia has been asked to tell why its banking licence should not be revoked after it was alleged to have involved in a "scheme" with the Iranian government and hid from law-enforcement officials 60,000 secret transactions in order to generate hundreds of millions of 
dollars in fees.

In a rare move, New York's top bank regulator threatened to strip the banking licence of Standard Chartered Plc, saying it was a "rogue institution" that hid US$250 billion in transactions tied to Iran, in violation of US law that sanctioned Iranian Government. 

The loss of a New York banking licence would be a devastating blow to Standard Chartered, effectively cutting off direct access to the US bank market.

Civil society groups trained to fight corrupt elements in society

Various civil society organizations (CSOs) in West Africa have been equipped to help deal with corrupt elements in the region to guarantee a better society where all forms of economic and financial crimes like money laundering and terrorism financing will be reduced to its barest minimum.

The two-day regional sensitization workshop for CSOs on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) organised by the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) was held in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on 6 and 7 August 2012. 

The CSOs were capacitised and empowered to take ownership of the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Speaking on the occasion, the director general of GIABA, Dr Abdulahi Shehu, said the civil society,  as a catalyst for change and promotion of good governance, has a big role to play in building viable legal and legislative frameworks to fight crimes and promote accountability.

 “It is imperative for CSOs to know the specific contribution they can and should make in order to surmount the threat of money laundering as well as the emergence of financing of terrorism and enhance public understanding, attitudes and references,” he said.

UK Gov’t provides feeding for 45,000 food-starved Gambians

The government of the United Kingdom is to provide more than 1000 tonnes of rice to feed 45,000 Gambians as part of efforts at helping to mitigate the impact of the food crisis that hit the country as a result of the national crop failure blamed on erratic rainfall in the last farming season.
UK High Commissioner to The Gambia, Mr. Morley

According to the UK High Commissioner to The Gambia, David Morley, the British Government, through the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), will donate £500,000, equivalent to over D24 million, to The Gambia in response to the food crisis.

Speaking at a press conference held at the British High Commission in Fajara on 6 August, Mr Morley said the money should go a long way in helping to address the food crisis affecting over 200,000 families across the country. 

“This money is in addition to the 43 million pounds already donated from the UK to help fight the food crisis across the Sahel region,” he remarked.

“The United Kingdom will not sit back whilst children are at risk of starvation in The Gambia and this money should provide lifesaving food to over 45,000 Gambian people for over two months.”

Zenith, GTBank rated top for resilient performance

The parent companies of Zenith Bank Gambia Limited and Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia Limited have been rated top in Fitch's Viability Rating (VR) reflecting strong domestic franchises and resilient performance.   

In a special report on Nigeria banking sector published on 30 July, the rating agency said GTBank and Zenith in Nigeria were at the top with VRs of 'b+'.

"The VRs of these banks reflect strong domestic franchises and resilient performance through the cycle. The VRs also take account of lower than average concentration risk for the sector and acceptable levels of capitalization," the report says.

GCCI to stage mini-trade fair for youth entrepreneurs in Brikama

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry is set to stage the second edition of its mini-trade fair, ‘Marche Jula’, from 11 to 20 October this year in Brikama to promote youth entrepreneurs and enterprises, after interacting with young enterprising men and women in the country over the months.

Almami Taal, GCCI CEO
To be held on the theme “Promoting Sustainable Youth Enterprises and Self Employment”, the aims of the event, first staged in 2011, include exposing youth enterprises, promoting self-employment, increasing sales for youth enterprises and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), showcasing innovations in science and technology, and complementing Trade Fair Gambia (TFG), held every two years.

An impeccable source close to this paper has said the target businesses are youth enterprises, MSMEs, science and technology innovations, and self-employment initiatives in agriculture, arts and craft, construction, electrical and electronics, fashion, food and beverages, furniture, renewable energy, tailoring and other undertakings. 

This year’s Marche Jula will provide a platform for young people to showcase their skills, talents and innovation, particularly in science and technology, thereby giving them more business opportunities and market power.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012


The Global Youth Action Network (GYIN) last week held a forum at the Voice Newspaper in Serrekunda to celebrate Global Youth Day and launch a campaign dubbed ‘I am a GYINer” aimed at releasing the potentials of young people.

Speaking on the occasion, Modou Joof, communications officer of GYIN, said the network was launched in 2011 by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in partnership with Phelps Stokes - a US-based non-profit organization.

He reiterated the importance of the launching, saying “the central event of each ‘I am a GYINer’ national campaign is a business-oriented competition, which has two categories: best cultural product and best socially conscious business”.

The best socially conscious business seeks an existing business that exemplifies the belief that businesses should respect and enrich their communities and environments, while the other seeks a service or product that exemplifies the country’s culture or locally available resources, explained Mamadou Edrissa Njie, GYIN national coordinator.

He called on the youth to be part of the campaign, saying they can only “truly become contributing and economically successful members of the community with recognition and support from established organizations”.

Meita Touray, GYIN Gambia’s secretary general, underscores the importance of celebrating International Youth Day, saying it is a day to develop and engage in partnership with the youth.

Young people continue to face global challenges that are stemmed from economic hardship, marginalization and unemployment, she said.

Monday, August 6, 2012

W/African civil society capacitised to battle money laundering, financing terrorism

The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) will be organizing a regional sensitization workshop for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on AML/CFT in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on 6 and 7 August 2012. 

A statement from the sub-regional agency says the objectives of the workshop are to sensitize civil society organizations on AML/CFT issues and related implications in the West African sub-region; to get members of the civil society actively committed to their role as champions against these twin scourges by spreading the message at grassroots level; to establish links and a solid network of CSOs engaged in the fight as a means of sharing experiences and knowledge within the sub-region; and finally, to build the capacity of CSOs and empower them to take ownership of the fight against ML/FT.

“The fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders geared towards the protection of the economies and financial systems of member States,” the statement says. “GIABA acknowledges the contribution of the civil society in mass mobilization and in the decision-making process.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rush for ‘cheap’ Kanilai bread: A visible sign of poverty

It’s not a surprised that people, most of whom are low income earners living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day; continue to form very longqueues to buy bread from Kanilai Farm Bakery, owned by President Jammeh, at a reduced price of D3 per loaf.  

There are some people whose special daily routine for this Ramadan is just to buy bread from the Kanilai Farm.  When they wake up their only work is to go and join the excessive long queue to buy the bread; sometimes spend hours waiting for their turn.

The original price of bread, as of now, is D5 but due to President Jammeh’s reported generosity and love for Gambian reduced the price of bread his bakery to D3 hence people storm there for D2 difference on each bread.

Even when it is only D1 difference people will still make long queues.  Gambians are now use to cheap things - whether it’s of good quality or not, is another thing.  However, this does not mean that Kanilai Farm’s bread is of low quality.  The point here is that due to rising prices of basic goods, falling value of the Gambian Dalasi and stagnant earning power of Gambian workers particularly those in the civil service, people are always going for cheap things that can do similar work as the quality one with high price.   In a nutshell, average Gambians buy what they can afford not necessarily what is of high quality.  

Many Gambians are eating today just to satisfy their hunger not because a particular food is rich is balance diet.  No wonder why child malnutrition is on the rise, as some 11 per cent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished in rural areas of the country, presenting a 1 per cent increase over the previous year, and highest recorded record since 2006.

How can you have more than 50% of the population living in poverty, struggling to meet their three squares meals a day not to be going for the cheapest price?