Basidia M Drammeh
The inauguration of the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center, under the auspices of President Adama Barrow, is doubtlessly a giant step towards the country’s plans to host the 2022 OIC Summit.
The Conference Center is a giant and magnificent $50-million project granted by the People’s Republic of China as a reward for former President Yahya Jammeh’s unceremonious decision in 2013 to sever ties with Taiwan and recognize One China policy. Jammeh was the one who lobbied for the Gambia during OIC Summit in Turkey to host the 2019 Summit. That summit was later hosted by Saudi Arabia due to Gambia’s unpreparedness. However, the country was given a second chance to host the Summit in 2022.
Though the decision was made at the 11th hour, President Barrow should be commended for renaming the facility after the nation’s founding father Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in honour of his memory.
While we celebrate this monumental edifice and associated benefits for our nation, we need to deeply reflect on Africa’s infatuation with grants and loans rather than entrenching self-reliance to move the Continent forward. Why Africa continues to depend on grants and loans is a question that preoccupies my thought and lingers in my mind. We came to believe that nothing could be achieved without donor intervention. Even the headquarters of the African Union was gifted by China.
Africa is endowed with enormous natural and human resources that, if harnessed, can uplift Africa and make it an envy of the world. Why can’t Africa learn from China how it lifted 800 million of its people from poverty in a span of 30 years? How can’t Africa learn from Asian tigers how they develop their nations without Western loans and grants?. When will Africa mobilize its own resources to finance its projects rather than send finance and foreign ministers to crisscross the world begging for funds and loans?
Probably we will ponder on these questions away from our emotions and sentiments.