The government of The Gambia has launched a five -year plan that it believes will help stem the outflux of Gambian youths to Mediterranean Europe.
The Vice President FatoumataJallow-Tambajang today unveiled the Youth and Trade Roadmap, which sets out to help tackle the root causes of youth unemployment and competitive market constraints. These factors are believed to be at the heart of irregular migration in The Gambia, officials said.
“My government is fully committed to leading and implementing the Youth and Trade Roadmap to turn the tide of youth migration,’ said Vice President Tambajang, adding that the roadmap directly supports Gambia’s new National Development Plan to empower youth.
According to reports, Gambians are one of the top nationalities among the 93,000 mainly West African and Asian migrants who have arrived in Italy already this year. The majority, as in preceding years, are unlikely to qualify for asylum. And yet Italy, like most EU states, has had little success in forcibly returning them home or persuading them to leave voluntarily.
The launch of the roadmap follows a wide consultative process among public agencies, the business community, training institutions and youth across the country. The National Development Plan (2018-2021) Gambia targets economic reforms to restore growth and stability in the country, as the country re-emerges on the global scene after decades of struggling with socioeconomic and political challenges.
These challenges have helped fuel unemployment and migration, particularly among youth. Now, the International Trade Centre (ITC) has helped to guide the Gambia’s consultative process in designing the Roadmap, while the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa) for its financial support to the ITC’s Youth Empowerment Project (YEP)). The program supports youth employment and entrepreneurship in the country.
“Youth empowerment and employment is a strategic priority,” said Attila Lajos, European Union ambassador to The Gambia. “The hopes and expectations of the youth, including the returnees, should not be deceived, and this increases the need to adopt measures for entry-level job creation,” Lajos said.
Henry Gomez, minister of Youth and Sports, said he was pleased that the development of the roadmap followed an inclusive process with the participation of youth, the public and the private sectors, as well as civil society.’
Arancha González, ITC executive director said the ITC is committed to working with The Gambia to help young people move from being job seekers to creators through trade. “The roadmap will serve as a guiding compass to bolster competitiveness and develop economic opportunities for youth, in line with the Government’s priorities,” she said.
Through YEP, ITC is supporting implementation of the roadmap, focusing on building market-oriented skills of youth while fostering value addition in the priority sectors of nuts and agro-processing, information and communications technologies, and tourism.
“We need to be equipped with a business mind-set and entrepreneurial skills to become our own engines of growth,’ said Omar Jammeh, youth activist, director of Just Act Gambia, a non-governmental organisation, and a member of the National Youth Council.”
Beran Dondeh, vice president of the Information Technology Association of The Gambia, said: “We can bring new ideas to solve old economic problems as long as we receive quality education and have the opportunity and skills to develop our businesses.”