By Ndey Sowe
Dr. Isatou Touray, the Vice President of The Gambia, has assured stakeholders at a Micro Small and Medium Size Enterprise (MSMEs) forum held on Monday that the Gambia Government will be implementing the recommendations made by the forum, in partnership with the private sector under the leadership of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dr. Touray said the current government firmly believes in private sector-led growth.
“We made a commitment to support the development of the MSME eco-system in recognition of the very important role of economic growth.” In the Gambia MSMEs contribute approximately 20% of our GDP, thus, as a government we recognize the significant contribution and untapped potential of MSMEs to our economy,” VP Touray said at the event she presided over, held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Center in Senegambia.
The aforesaid forum brought together key national stakeholders to review the priority challenges facing the MSMEs in The Gambia, especially in relation to their performance and come up with a roadmap on how to address the bottlenecks impeding the growth and productivity of the sector.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment in collaboration with the Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSGD) of United Nations Department Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized the policy implementation forum dubbed “supporting MSMEs in the post Covid-19 Era, Promoting MSMEs formalization.”
Also speaking at the event, Seedy Keita, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said nationwide MSME mapping study conducted in 2018 revealed that an estimate total number of 115,680 MSMEs in the country, of which, over 90% operate as sole proprietorships.
Keita added that over 77% of the said sole proprietors are unregistered making them informal and largely invisible.
“The same MSME Mapping 2018 estimates that formal MSMEs contribute up to 26% of GDP, the number would surely increase when MSMEs in the informal sector are included,” he said.
For his part, Edirisa Mass Jobe, President of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), said the forum was timely and was aimed at supporting the development of the MSME.
“MSMEs are not only agents for development, but they are also the key beneficiaries of inclusive development. In The Gambia, they are the main drivers of employment, facilitating income generation, poverty eradication and reduction of inequality for the majority of the population, including disadvantaged groups,” he said.
Other speakers included Amason Simanda, the under Secretary UNDESA and Jene Yeboah, the Acting Deputy Representative UNDP.