By: Kebba AF Touray
Sheikh Omar Dibba, Subject Matter Specialist for the National Assembly Health Committee, has tasked the Gambia Government to examine the root causes of poverty in the country, saying this is one of the major factors confronting the business environment in the country.
Mr. Dibba made the clarion call recently in an interview during this year’s trade fair, at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, at one of the stalls where this reporter caught up with him.
“I really call on the authorities to examine the root causes of poverty and develop strategies and programs geared towards reducing the impact of poverty on individuals and households,” he said.
Dibba said in an environment where the purchasing powers of people are limited, they may not have adequate money in their pockets and that this can be a threat to businesses. He proffered that partnership is an area that needs to be reexamined, noting that individual businesses are not able to grow as expected.
“In my view, there is not much partnership in business in the country and everybody tends to run their shows. There are so many small and medium enterprises in the country and we are not seeing many large-scale businesses,” he said.
Speaking further, Dibba said the rural-urban drift is creating a vacuum in the rural communities and that some businesses are not able to strive in the rural areas due to the trend in rural-urban migration. He said this creates narrow markets and that the infrastructure is limited; that population growth in urban centers do not commensurate with the availability of resources and infrastructure. According to him, this can have a long-lasting effect on businesses.
“The primary objective of the trade fair is to exhibit products to the public with a view to drawing their attention to what is being offered and if they are interested, place an order for bulk purchase or buy goods on the spot,” he said.
Commenting on the fair, Dibba said it is a marketing strategy and a great initiative which serves as an avenue for promoting the county’s products, thereby maximizing sale and profit; that it is a strategic move in terms of stimulating economic growth and creating employment opportunities particularly for young people.
“It can have a significant impact on the domestic trade and the economy at large. It is a laudable initiative and I will like to encourage the entrepreneurs to take advantage of the trade fair and exhibit their products for both local and international markets,” he said.
Dibba said the business environment is confronted with challenges such as the size of in population which he said currently stands at 2 million; that population size can determine the interest of investors to come and in a low populated country, investors may not be willing to invest heavily.
While thanking GCCI and partners for the initiative, Dibba called for public education on businesses and urged Government to review the tax policies in a bid to address the issue of heavy duties and allows some leverage to the populace.
Also speaking to Foroyaa at the trade fair was Fatou Lemon, a female entrepreneur. Ms. Lemon said goods are available in bulk but they are expensive and that the stalls are also expensive. She said they are making sales but not like last year.
Mama Africa, another female entrepreneur said business is going slowly and attributed this to the restrictions to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Modou Gaye of ‘ABC’ Gaye Enterprise said they make and sell local cooking stoves and that getting the clay used in manufacturing the stoves, is a daunting challenge.
Asked whether he has encountered any challenge since the start of the trade fair, Gaye responded in the negative. He said water and electricity supply has been provided for them by the GCCI.
Oustaz Alieu Sanneh, a resident of Sukuta and dealer in booklets, said the trade fair signifies the peaceful nature of the Gambia and enables them showcase their products and as well sell them to earn a living. He said the booklets will enable people especially followers, to differentiate truth and false as per Ahamadiya,” he said.
Oustaz Sanneh hailed the GCCI and partner stakeholders for organizing the trade fair and appealed to them to continue the annual trade event in the country for posterity.