Provincial youth leaders call on gov’t to strengthen rural youth empowerment
By Sulayman Waan
As the National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) progresses youth leaders across rural regions have called on The Gambia Government to empower rural youth.
The NAYCONF comprises youth across the seven administrative regions of the country and all regional delegations are headed by regional youth committee chairpersons. However, this medium has spoken to various regional chairpersons concerning rural youth empowerment.
Ebrima Sanyang, Chairperson for the Regional Youth Committee (RYC) of Central River Region (CRR) said there is a greater need for Government to decentralize job opportunities to ensure rural youth get the needed jobs in their regions.
“The Government also should build capacities of young entrepreneurs to have innovative business ideas,” he said.
He said Government should provide subvention to RYCs of various administrative regions. This, he said will help the committees to implement their activities at the grassroots level such as sensitizations, skills training, entrepreneurs, and mentorship programmes.
Sanyang opined that authorities should waive tax on investors who want to invest in provincial regions for a number of years. “This will encourage investors to invest in the rural regions. That would provide more job opportunities for rural regions,” he said.
“CRR is the breadbasket of The Gambia. It has several thousands of hectares suitable for rice cultivation, especially the Sapu, Jahally-Pacharr, Janjanbureh, Nianija, and Balangarr rice fields. The region has several hundreds of thousand hectares suitable for cereal and legume cultivation,” he said.
Mr. Sanyang also called on authorities to empower young people that are into integrated agriculture. He said if such young entrepreneurs are empowered there would be an increase in youth employment which will help in addressing the food self-sufficiency drive of the Government.
Bubacarr Sidibeh, regional youth chairperson for Upper River Region (URR) said: “Youth empowerment in URR is just about 40 to 50 percent. This means a lot needs to be done in terms of youth empowerment in my region.”
He said there is a need for decentralization of job opportunities for youth of rural regions to be employed and contribute to the development of their regions at country at large.
Sidibeh said young people of his region want Government to provide them with skills training centers, job opportunities and access to finance to make them more productive.
“We also want Government to provide finance to the URR regional youth committee so that we will be able to implement our activities such as entrepreneurship training, mentorship, sensitizations, and other programmes,” he said, adding: “without finance the RYC would find it difficult to execute its functions.”
Ousman Sanneh, regional youth chairperson for Lower River Region (LRR) said Government is empowering youth but urged them to intensify efforts in their empowerment drive for young entrepreneurs.
“The Government should expand its support base for young entrepreneurs as well asincrease the revolving fund. The grant is often D50, 000 and sometime D150, 000. There is a need for that amount to be increased to D500, 000 or D1million because D50, 000 0r D150, 000 is too small for a serious business persons,” he said.
He recommended to the Government to improve the infrastructural development of sports facilities in the region. He said the Soma Mini Stadium is in a poor condition and sub-standard. However, he called on Government to standardize the Mini Stadium as well as provide a volleyball court in the facility.