Resolute corporate investors have been following with interest the movements of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, most specifically during the conclusion of his working visit to The Gambia last week.
The highpoint of the visit was notably the signing of a joint communiqué, which addressed outstanding issues ranging from developmental cooperation to Banjul and Abuja’s roles in fostering West African peace.
These bilateral advances have given cause for refreshed investment thinking. Indeed many believe the newfound fortifying of relationships throughout the ECOWAS, as clearly defined during the Nigerian delegation visit to Banjul, is proof positive that West African states are on to something that the West is not and are now actively looking inward for their shared developmental aspirations.
Despite misinformed trepidation due to questions of governmental adherence to rule of law, the next foreseeable benchmark that may in fact serve as a rallying cry for international integration in to The Gambia, will very likely be the penetration of telecommunication and ICT in order to further bridge the remaining gaps between the nation and the lucrative markets that border the shores of West Africa.
And information communication and technology experts from countries in West Africa on routine conclaves in Banjul not only sense this opportunity, but also have committed themselves to, as corporate actors, linking the divide in the sub-region to enhance development.
Standing alone, the Gambia is one of the noticeably smaller countries in Africa, with a total landmass of approximately 10,600 square kilometers. With a current population estimated at two million and climbing, a blossoming agribusiness sector (eighty percent of the population live in the rural areas and are predominantly farmers) and fluid air and sea transport services, there are many glimpses of longstanding opportunity that inspire those entrepreneurs keen on business amalgamation.
What remains clear, notwithstanding this would-be abundance of opportunity, is that the need to modernize agribusiness-as-usual and concurrently allow for greater telecommunication and e-business to flourish is of the utmost importance and not a tangible reality as of yet.
Many geopolitical scientists remark that the development of ICT in a country is determined by the availability of computer equipment, internet connectivity, ICT human resources and quality accessibility to its services therein.
Although connectivity still remains a challenge, considerable improvements have been made on these fronts.
“When viewed as a specific case study, The Gambia offers unique prospects for investment, albeit mired by the rate of technological development when put to scale with that of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the nations that comprise the ECOWAS”, stated Mr. Emeka Abone, Director of FIB Group Ltd., The Gambia.
“However, following the formulation of sound ICT policies coupled with the political will and understanding of the urgency to compete at this new geopolitical level, the Gambia may foster a unique climate of investment all its own, at a time ripe with opportunity while rife with misinformation”.
Indeed, in leading from the front as outstanding private sector participators, Mr. Abone’s role is all the more pertinent if the country is to accelerate its efforts for the attainment of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The further penetration of wireless internet technologies in to day to day life, most notably broadband in schools, hospitals, hotels and indeed financial institutions such as First International Bank, will further launch The Gambia forward in ICT development.
We welcome the opportunity that The Gambia presents and commend the cunning investors who foresaw it on the rise.