Friday, April 27, 2012

Gambia News Online Publisher attends World Press Conference

Lamin Jahateh, editor and publisher of Gambia News Online, an online newspaper, on Thursday left to Dakar, Senegal, to attend the World Press Conference organized by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

Mr Jahateh, who is the national correspondent of African Press Agency (APA), will join other journalists and media executives from various media houses within and outside the West African region at the conference which is meant to sensitise information managers to their responsibilities and obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime towards fostering and strengthening partnership between GIABA and the media in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa.

To be held from 27-28 April at Radisson Blu Hotel in Dakar, this year’s World Press Conference will involve briefing of Ambassadors of ECOWAS countries in Senegal on emerging development on AML/CFT issues.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GTBanks celebrates a decade of ‘successful’ operations

Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia Limited, the first bank in The Gambia that originated from Nigeria, marked its decade of operations in the country which “is highly rewarding both in terms of enriching knowledge of banking and also putting profit on the table which is the essence of every business.”

Mr Femi Omotoso, MD GTBank Gambia Ltd
The bank that started operations in the Gambia in March 2002, celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a line-up of activities which began with an ‘Official cutting of the cake’ held on Monday at the bank’s head office located along Kairaba Avenue.  The event brought together key stakeholders of the bank, representative of the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia, and a cross-section of the public.

GTBank started operations in the Gambia as the seventh bank in country in just five years’ time; the bank has metamorphosed to be the third largest bank in the country both in terms of balance sheet and profitability and has won several prestigious awards in the country. 

“This was achievable due to the warm embrace of its excellent service delivery culture and strong core values,” the managing director of GTBank, Mr Femi Omotoso, said on Monday. “This is all possible, thanks to our esteemed customers.” 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

GAWFA introduces mobile banking to reach clients nationwide

GAWFA CEO, Dr Oley Njie-Mbye
The Gambia Women Finance Association has introduced mobile banking system geared towards making mobile money transactions both easier and more available to its clients most of whom live in remote rural areas without access to traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions.

The project, funded by the Spanish Cooperation Agency, an international agency fighting against poverty around the world, will reduce costs for Gawfa and increase customer convenience.

The 18-month project, approved by the funders in March this year, will help Gawfa’s clients to have improved access to Gawfa-offered financial services by allowing them to access their account with ease and comfort at the place they (the clients) want it. 

With this project, Gawfa uses technology to overcome the barriers of geography and low population density to deliver financial services at low cost across the country.

Press Release: Training of Trainers on Sustainable Land Management

Sustainable Land Management Project, (SLMP) a unit under the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), organized a six days training of trainers on Sustainable Land Management for sixty multi-level partner stakeholder institutions.

SLMP project seeks to address interlinked problems of rural poverty, food insecurity and land degradation.
After the training, trained participants are expected to conduct a step-down training for extension workers and farmers in their respective regions.

Participants were divided into two groups-participants from Western Gambia-West Coast, North Bank and Lower River Region respectively were group one and Easter Gambia comprises participants from Upper River, and Central River North and South were group two.

The training was held at the Agricultural Rural Farmers’ Training Centre at Jenoi in Lower River Region from 11-13 April for Western Gambia, and 14-16 April, 2012 for Eastern Gambia participants respectively.
Speaking at the official opening of the training, Mr. Falalo Touray, director of Agriculture, Lower River Region (LRR) emphasized on the importance of the training saying that capacity building is key element in any project.

PRESS RELEASE: GYIN-Gambia's SG To Attend Fourth African Carbon Forum In Ethiopia

Ms Meita Touray
Miss Meita Touray Secretary General of the Global Youth Innovation Network-Gambia better known as GYIN-Gambia, who is also a Reporter with the Daily Observer Newspaper has been invited to attend the fourth Africa Carbon Forum (ACF) which is schedule to place in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa from the 18th-20th April 2012.  Miss Touray on Tuesday 17 April, 2012 left Banjul International Airport for Ethiopia. 

The Forum organisers are the African Development Bank (ADB), International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Risø Centre, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), World Bank and its World Bank Institute, and is supported by the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Agency.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

GCCI schedules date for Annual Business Awards, increases number of prizes

The prestigious annual business award of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), in which businesses and individuals in the private sector are recognise and celebrated for their outstanding performance, is scheduled to take place on 1st June and four new categories of award are add to the ten categories awarded last year.

During the awards a new breed of economic operators would be awarded for excellence in doing performance.  The aim of the event is to promote and nurture business excellence, and motivate business entities to do more for the economic growth and social development.

This year’s award night will witness the award of hotel, restaurant, tourism, and insurance ‘Company of the Year’ in addition to the ten awarded categories given last year.

Alammy Taal GCCI CEO
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the GCCI, Almamy Taal, the annual awards also seeks to draw public attention to  the role of the private sector and realize the innovativeness of entrepreneurship in the sector. 

Mr Taal, who was speaking to journalists on Tuesday at a press conference held at Kerr Jula, the GCCI head office located in Bijilo along Bertil Harding Highway, said the dinner is meant to recognise the efforts and gains made by the business community in the country in contributing towards the socio-economic development of the nation.

He explained that the proceeds from this year’s awards night will be used to help the farmers.
To attend Annual Business Awards Night Dinner, individuals and institutions pay money in form of buying tables of different categories – gold, silver, platinum – the proceeds of which the GCCI used to fund some of its activities, but the CEO of the Chamber emphasized that “greater part of this year’s annual dinner award proceeds will be given to Gambian farmers in support of this year’s crop failure”.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gambian installed as president of sub-regional Insurance Association

Mr Dawda Sarge
Mr Dawda Sarge, managing director of Prime Insurance Company Limited, has been installed as the new president of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) for one year (2012/2013), succeeding Mr Fatai Lawal, a Nigerian. 

Mr Sarge’s investiture was held on Tuesday during the closing dinner of the of the two-day annual general meeting and educational conference of WAICA, which brought together about 200 insurance professionals from all over West Africa, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi from 16  - 17 April 2012.

Dressed in traditional African fabric, Getzener Bazin, Mr Sarge took the prescribed oath of office pledging to discharge his duties faithful to the best of his ability and in accordance with the Constitution of WAICA and law.

Shortly after taking the oath, before the WAICA executive committee members and the general membership, as well as family members and well-wishers, Mr Sarge said: “I wish to thank my colleagues in the Gambia insurance industry especially the executive committee members of the association (Insurance Association of the Gambia) for your magnanimity and confidence which you demonstrated by nominating me into the (WAICA) executive and as the president for 2012 – 2013.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strategies to sanitize insurance industry discussed

delegates at the conference
Insurance professionals from across West Africa recently converged in The Gambia to discuss strategies to clean their industry of unprofessional and unethical insurance institutions and practitioners who are said to be partly responsible for the slow growth and development of the industry in the sub-region.

“Professional and Ethical Behaviour in the Insurance Industry” was the discussion topic at the annual general meeting and educational conference of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) hosted in The Gambia by the Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) from 15 to 17 April at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia.

The discussion was centred on how to root out all those people who are behaving in an unprofessional and unethical manner in the insurance industry.

Speaking on the occasion, the president of the Insurance Association of the Gambia (IAG), said the theme of the conference is indeed interesting and appropriate considering the scale and scope of professional deception and ethical misconduct in the financial system in recent times. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Providing Safe Haven For FDI in West Africa

West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to create and establish an agency for the protection of foreign direct investment in the sub-region against the uncertainties of political and other related risks.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of WAICA hosted in The Gambia by the Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG) on 16 and 17 April, the secretary general and chief executive officer of WAICA, William B. Coker, said the idea of establishing the agency, dubbed WAICA/ECOWAS Investment Guarantee and Reinsurance Agency, is prompted by the fact that safety and protection of investment is a major concern to all current and potential stakeholders, especially investors, in West Africa.

 “This venture is another vehicle that can be used to facilitate regional economic integration, which is the aim of both WAICA and ECOWAS,” Mr Coker said, adding that the agency is a private sector player which will be run and managed as a commercial venture; “therefore the issue of bureaucracy will not be there”.

The reinsurance aspect of the project will be taken care of by WAICA Reinsurance Corporation, which is a new reinsurance company set up by WAICA, Mr Coker disclosed.

When operational, the agency will give potential investors worldwide the opportunity to invest in West Africa knowing that they are protected against political uncertainties and other related risks that might ruin their investment.

Analysts say a major factor inhibiting the flow of foreign direct investment into the ECOWAS region is the unstable political environment of its member states and their very weak democratic governance structures.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gambia Hosts AGM of sub-regional Insurance Association

The 34th annual general meeting and educational conference of the West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) will be held in the Gambia from 15 to 17 April this year, William B. Coker, secretary general and chief executive officer of the sub-regional insurance association, has revealed.

The theme of the conference, to be held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia, is “Professional and Ethical Behaviour in the Insurance Industry”. 

About 200 delegates, including representatives of various insurance companies in the sub-region, insurance brokers, and reinsurance companies as well as observers from all over the world are expected to grace the annual rotating conference.

Mr Coker, CEO/Secretary General of WAICA
Sunday, 15 April, is the arrival of the delegates, who will be treated to a welcome cocktail in the evening, and the conference proper takes place on 16 and 17 April.

Mr Coker, a Gambian, says this year the conference will discuss professionalism and ethical behaviour because these issues worry not only the insurance industry but other industries as well.  

“So as far as the insurance industry is concerned, we want to see how we can root out all those people who are behaving in an unprofessional manner, in an unethical manner because those are the few people that give any industry a bad name,” Mr Coker said. “So we are here to discuss that particular aspect of our work (insurance work) and see how best we can ostracize any such person or companies that are not behaving professionally and are dragging down the profession.”

NAWEC to dismiss some staff?

Some staff members of the National Water and Electricity Company might have their services terminated if the recommendation of an independent consultant brought in to assess the company’s fiscal discipline is approved.

The National Water and Electricity Company Limited has been asked to make redundant some 45 members of its staff following a staff audit of the company by “an independent consultant” to ascertain whether the financial-deficient state-owned company is overstaffed.

As part of the recommendations at the end of the assessment, the consultant says the public utilities provider should make redundant 45 staff, as it was discovered that the services of these people are “obsolete” and “can be outsourced” to save the heavily-indebted company some cost associated with salaries to retain much needed revenue.
To find out whether Nawec will heed the recommendation of the consultant and make redundant the 45 staff, when and which areas they are working within the Nawec units, Gambia News Online spoke with Nani Juwara, commercial director of the company, who said the report is an internal one and the recommendation is yet to be effected, hence prefers not to make any comment on it.

‘Corruption remains a challenge in W/Africa’

Officials of economic and financial departments in the member states of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management have made strong recommendations to stamp out corruption and fiscal indiscipline in government circles.

The senior public officials from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia say there is the need to enforce and strengthen legislations by various governments with the aim of tackling fiscal indiscipline and perennial corruption in the sub-region.

“Corruption remains a challenge in the effective utilization and management of public funds within the West African sub-region,” they say, adding that the adoption of best practices of good governance, transparency and accountability are precondition for the achievement of rapid economic growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Investigative institutions and judicial arm of governments must be truly independent and capable of prosecuting culprits, they state in a communiqué they established after their two-week regional course on public financial management held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi from 19 to 30 March this year.

Gambia Postal Services to redundant some staff with NAWEC tariff increment

Some staff of the Gambia Postal Services (Gampost) may be redundant when the 33% tariff increment proposed by the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) finally comes into effect.

Gampost Managing Director Momodou Ceesay has said if the proposed 33% tariff increment by NAWEC is effected, his institution, which pays huge electricity bill to the utility company, will be adversely affected and might lead to the laying-off of some his staff , or a passing-over  cost of it to users of his services.

Mr Momodou Ceesay, MD Gampost
Gampost currently pays D1million for electricity annually, which “is too high”, so an increase by 33% means an additional burden of D330,000 and a total cost of D1,330,000 the national postal service will have to be paying for electricity annually.

“Where do we get the additional D330,000,” the Gampost managing director asks rhetorically at a March 17 Public Hearing held this year at the Father Farell Hall at Westfield, organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to gauge public comments on the proposed tariff increment by NAWEC to 33%  on electricity, water and sewerage services.

“So when the new tariff comes into effect, I have two options: either to increase the cost of postal services, or to reduce the number of staff,” the Gampost MD said. 

“If I opt for the latter, this will have negative impacts on my staff because there are other people who are depending on each of them given the fact that the dependency ratio in this country is high.”

Rural Finance Project bolsters microfinance institutions

Rural Finance Project recently enhanced the operations, efficiency and effectiveness of some microfinance institutions by providing them with motorbikes and management information system equipment worth more than two million eight hundred and thirty-eight thousand six hundred and thirty-seven dalasi (D2,838,637).

The beneficiaries, the National Associations of Cooperative Credit Unions (NACCUG), the Gambia Women’s Finance Association (GAWFA) and some other microfinance institutions, were handed the materials at a ceremony held on 30 March at the Rural Finance Project offices located at Cape Point in Bakau.

The donated items included 13 motorbikes, 38 solar panels, computers and computer-accessories.

Speaking on the occasion, Madam Ada Gaye, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the donation is as a result of lack of transparent and reliable information within the framework of the Rural Finance Project monitoring and evaluation activities.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Consumer Protection Bill in the Offing

A new law to protect and promote a fair, safe and informed market place on which the rights and welfare of consumers are fully protected will soon be effected in the Gambia.

Mr Alhagie Tamu Alieu Njie, chairman of the recently launched Consumer Protection Consortium, has disclosed that they have recently initiated a draft bill on consumer protection, which will address issues of consumer rights and welfares.

“When this comes into law, there will be sufficient recognition to deal with consumer welfare and protection,” Mr Njie said while presiding over the official launching of the Consumer Protection Consortium (CPC), formed by various consumer protection associations in the country, held on 7 April at the KMC Multipurpose Centre in Kanifing.

However, he said the law cannot do what it supposes to do when it is not enforced.  Therefore, he said, the launching of the CPC is a step in the right direction as it will create awareness of some of the issues in the consumer protection exercise when it is passed.

The Act, when it comes into being, will set out ground rules covering most consumer transactions.  It will also prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in the marketplace.