By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The 9th Edition of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) international trade fair, which kicked off on 19 December, was officially launched yesterday, 22 December, 2015 at the Independent Stadium in Bakau.
With the theme “Public Private Partnerships for national development”, the trade fair is expected to end on the 10th January 2016.
In her statement to officially launch the fair, Madam Isatou Njie Saidy, the Vice President, hailed the organisers for what he called a noble effort in showcasing the Gambia and facilitating partnership between the public and private sectors.
Madam Njie also took the opportunity to also welcome the international participants whom she said travelled from afar to participate in this year’s trade Fair.
“Indeed we are all aware that significant and sustained developments in developing countries cannot be realised without the private sector’s participation. The private sector is the main engine for economic growth and development,” said Vice President Njie-Saidy.
The vice president said the Gambia government recognises the need for strong partnership with the private sector in order to support the economic and social transformation of the country for inclusive development.
“It is the recognition of this important partnership between the public and the private sector that the government of the Gambia established the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Unit under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, to facilitate public private sector partnerships in the Gambia,” she noted.
Speaking earlier, Mr.Muhammed Jagana, GCCI president, said the first national trade fair was organised in 2003 by the GCCI and was considered a huge success with 88 local and 4 international exhibitors. This year’s trade fair, he said, has brought together 300 exhibitors, both national and international, adding that they are expecting more international exhibitors.
Mr. Jagana said over the years the GCCI has been helping small and meduim enterprises to grow big, through the creation of such platforms like the trade fair to expose their businesses to the people.
“The trade fair is not absolutely for profit making but rather to make partnership for businesses to grow,” said the GCCI president.
Mr. Jagana urged the members of the public to fully come and patronise the trade fair in order to help small and medium enterprises.
Mr. Jagana revealed that they have exhibitors from Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Malaysia, among other countries.
For his part, Mr. Alieu Secka, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said the trade fair which is changed from February or March and is now from December to January because this is the period when visitors mostly come for holidays.
He also said this was a demand from their partners more specific the vendors that the date should be changed to around December-January believing that it will create more markets for them.
Mr. Secka said that they are excited to register the highest number of exhibitors and are still expecting more, particularly from the international.
The GCCI CEO revealed that they have been allocated an empty land Government around the Brusubi for the purpose of staging trade fairs and that they have already started building the fence.
He also disclosed that GCCI has registered over 700 businesses as its membership.