Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow is busy putting together his cabinet as he gets to work with the West African country’s battered economy high on his priority list. His new government inherited an economy without money from the former President Yahya Jammeh who looted nearly 11 million dollars days before leaving power on December 21st, 2016. Jammeh’s 22-year-rule was also characterised by economic mismanagement, corruption among other ills.Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow is busy putting together his cabinet as he gets to work with the West African country’s battered economy high on his priority list. His new government inherited an economy without money from the former President Yahya Jammeh who looted nearly 11 million dollars days before leaving power on December 21st, 2016. Jammeh’s 22-year-rule was also characterised by economic mismanagement, corruption among other ills.
Economy and new think tank
Barrow has just sworn-in the first batch of his cabinet members including the country’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister sworn on Wednesday February 1st 2017 at Serre Kunda, the country’s commercial capital. Mr Amadou Sanneh, Gambia’s former Accountant General is the Economic and Finance Minister who will play a leading role in the new government’s economic revival drive.
The President also announced the establishment of a new ”Think Tank” called Agency for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development (ASSED), comprising 7 Gambian experts in the areas of economic, politics, civil, social, culture and the environment. The agency is tasked to develop a three-year development agenda known as Programme for Poverty Eradication, Sustainable Socio-Economic Development and Development Cooperation.
Following his electoral victory in December 2016 polls, expectations among Gambia’s nearly two million inhabitants became very high as Barrow had promised to fix the economy which had suffered very badly under the former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
“In committing ourselves to bury our past painful and unprecedented political experience, and begin a national healing process, we call on the members of this august assembly, development partners and other members of the international community to continue to support the government and people of The Gambia in our economic and social revival processes,’’ Barrow said in a speech delivered on his behalf by his Vice-President, Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.
Development aid and agriculture
Then on Tuesday 31st January 2017, the European Union (EU) announced 33 million euros ($35.6 million) development aid package to Gambia which was frozen due to human rights concerns under former president Yahya Jammeh’s leadership. The EU Ambassador to Gambia, Attila Lajos during a meeting with the new president in Banjul said the EU would make all means of support available.
Meanwhile, one of Barrow’s key election campaign promises centred on reviving the tiny West African country’s agriculture which is the backbone of the economy. The agricultural sector is the most important sector of the Gambian economy, contributing 32% of the gross domestic product (GDP) with 80 percent of the population depending on agriculture for its food and cash income. However, under former president Jammeh, the sector was neglected.
Another pressing problem facing Gambians is high rate of youth unemployment. This resulted in mass exodus of young Gambians migrating to Europe by embarking on perilous journey through Mediterranean Sea which is locally known as the ”back way”.
Several people have died in attempting to cross the sea to Italy from Libya over the years. Now, Barrow has promised to tackle the problem by creating jobs for the youths – to discourage them from leaving the country.
Author : Momodou L JAITTEH // Photo : Adama Barrow C Momodou L