Empowering youth in the Gambia
long-term economic sustainability in the Gambia
Earlier this year the Gambia celebrated when a new, democratically elected government led by President Adama Barrow took power. This seismic shift brought with it hopes and optimism among Gambians for a better and more sustainable future. However, building the new Gambia will be an uphill task requiring international support. One key challenge is to re-connect the Gambia with international markets to ensure economic growth and create jobs, particularly for the youth that make up 60% of the population.
In response to these challenges, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Government of the Gambia launched a new initiative to support job creation and entrepreneurship for Gambian youth. The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project is a four-year project that will benefit from €11 million ($12.1 million) from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and strengthen the long-term competitiveness and viability of the country’s economy.
‘This initiative funded under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for addressing root causes of instability and irregular migration in Africa will also give the opportunity to restore hope for members of the diaspora and Gambians who migrated abroad,’ says Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.
‘In the past years, so many young Gambians have fled their country. Today the Gambia needs all of its sons and daughters to rebuild the country. And you need them in the Gambia, not abroad,’ Mimica says, ‘Pilot initiatives will be targeting the diaspora more specifically by addressing their needs and promoting inclusive entrepreneurship schemes along various value chains with high potential for exports.’INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
‘The launch of the Youth Empowerment Project marks another building block to the construction of the new Gambia, one that will have youth, job creation and trade as its core element,’ says ITC Executive Director Arancha González.
‘Trade will play a crucial role in achieving this and ITC is looking forward to working with the Gambian government, businesses, trade and investment support institutions to ensure that more jobs and opportunities are created for youth and entrepreneurs – and especially companies run by women,’ Ms González says.UNLEASHING YOUTH POTENTIAL
By fostering economic opportunities, the
Gambia Youth Empowerment Project will
help stem the flow of young people leaving
the Gambia in search of jobs abroad.
Irregular migration claims many Gambian lives and stifles the country’s socio-economic development.
‘The New Gambia dedicates itself to the battle against unemployment and creates the enabling environment for youths to unleash their potentials and together we shall succeed,’ says Isatou Touray, the Gambia’s Minister for Trade, Regional Integration and Employment.
Taking a market-driven approach, the Youth Empowerment Project will focus on building specific skills among youth in a number of traditional sectors such as agriculture and tourism. These sectors will continue to provide the bulk of economic development in the Gambia and must be recognized as the main drivers of socioeconomic progress and job creation. The project aims to help diversify the Gambian economy by supporting the strengthening of business sectors including the creative and digital services industries.
As part of the initiative, ITC and the European Union will work with local, national and international partners to implement skills-building projects in urban and rural areas across the Gambia. Partners such as trade-support institutions, industry associations and entrepreneurship incubators will play a crucial role in achieving the inclusive and sustainability goals of the Youth Empowerment Project. Particularly important will be to strengthen existing technical and vocational skills programmes to better match the need of business and markets.FUTURE HOPES
Muhammed Sanyang is one of the many Gambian entrepreneurs who are optimistic about the new project, not so much for himself but for his compatriots. At the age of 24 he has established himself as a leading poultry farmer. In fact, he started with five egg-laying chickens 10 years ago – today he has 11,000.
Sanyang is now supplying the local
tourism industry with fresh eggs and
employs several people. He is not afraid of
more competitors joining his industry.
‘I want to be part of the Youth Empowerment Project to help create job opportunities,’ he says. ‘I would like to inspire and train other young people to start their business. Running a chicken farm is hard work but not difficult. I had my plan and I achieved my dream. I want others to reach their goals too.’