Monday, March 28, 2011

President Jammeh launches $24 million World Bank projects

The President of The Gambia, HE Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday presided over the officially launching of the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project (GGCP) and the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAP) in Banjul.
The five-year projects are financed by the World Bank Group in the Agricultural sector to the tune of $12 million each. It is aimed at improving investment; accelerate growth and employment and regional agricultural cooperation in West Africa.

Speaking at the opening of the event, President Jammeh said agriculture has been the traditional pillar of the Gambian economy, contributing 26.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP (the total value of goods and services that the Gambia produces in a year) and providing employment and income to the majority of Gambians.
He said the sector has witnessed a major transformation from traditional small holder subsistence farming to increasing levels of commercial green technology farming.
He reiterated that government will continue to provide the enabling environment and the necessary supportive policy instruments to ensure its continued growth and development.
According to him, the two projects (GGCP/WAAPP) will build on the success registered in the sector by government and the predecessor projects financed by the World Bank (WB) namely, the Gambia Emergency Agricultural Project and the Trade Gateway Projects.
A Senior Economist on Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Africa Region the World Bank Carlos B. Cavalcanti said the initiative is designed to promote the government’s growth and job creation agenda, especially in the area of agribusiness and tourism.
“It is a truism that agriculture is a dominant economic sector in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but its low productivity seriously erodes the competitiveness of African products on world and domestic markets,” Mr. Cavalcanti observed.
“WAAP may thus be viewed as part of a larger commitment by the World Bank to assist countries to enhance long-term food availability by providing a mix of support for short-term supply responses and sustainable medium and longer-term investments for increased agricultural productivity.”
In order to complement the on-going projects, he said the World Bank is working closely with government and other stakeholders to bring to effectiveness the following projects in the pipeline, that is Budget Support, the Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain, and the Telecom Project (ACE) which is at pre-appraisal stage.
For his part, the Finance Minister Mam Burry Njie said the project will provide the necessary financing for change management in key public sector institutions and its activities have been identified through extensive economic sector work policy, dialogue with the government, and consultation with stakeholders.
According to him, the projects’ higher level objective is to contribute towards sustaining the growth of the Gambia economy and enhancing poverty reduction through private sector led growth.  “Its key expected outcomes are investment climate reforms to reduce the entry barriers and operating cost for businesses, enhanced access to finance and private investment flows, improved business performance especially for firms in the tourism and hospitality sectors and linkages between small producers and domestic international markets,” he explained.
“Under the project, Gambia is expected to, among other initiatives, further develop, add value and expand its seed improvement, certification and multiplication programmes as its comparative advantage, so that it will emerge as the certified seeds supplier of the region, which has a large market,” the World Bank said. Source - The Voice

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