CPAG and FGI-CRPC signs MoU on Consumer Rights Promotion

By Rohey Jadama
The Consumer Protection Association of the Gambia (CPAG) and theCPAG and FGI-CRPC signs MoU
Foundation Gambia Incorporation-Consumer Rights Protection Centre
(FGI-CRPC) have yesterday, 28th January 2016 signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) conference
hall at Mile 7.The two consumer organisations entered into a strategic
partnership to collaborate and cooperate on consumer matters of common
concern and interest. Their aim is to synergies their efforts in
promoting and protecting the interest of the consumers in The Gambia.

Mr. Amadou Ceesay, the Executive Secretary of Gambia Competition and
Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC), who delivered a statement,
said the Consumer Protection Act requires the Commission to work on
four core areas where they have made much progress and that these are
the setting up of a functioning consumer protection unit, consumer
tribunals with attendant rules, creation of awareness and the ongoing
building of capacities.

Mr. Ceesay said the consumer protection tribunals are to operate
countrywide but as at now, a pilot tribunal is operational at the
Bundung court and ready to hear cases. He said they have also been
organising capacity building programs.

“We need consumer groups to partner with us. You exist to provide
support to consumers and we are stakeholders and we have to work with
consumer groups as before and we shall continue to do so,” said the
GCCPC Executive Secretary.
Mr. Ceesay said GCCPC has been organising consumer forums annually
which are meant to bring the stakeholders together to discuss issues
affecting consumers.
The GCCPC Executive concluded by commending CPAG and FGI-CRPC for this
Also delivering a statement, Mr. Kelepha Samba, Director of Human
Resources and Consumer Affairs at the Public Utilities Regulatory
Authority (PURA), deputizing the Director General, said one of their
main functions as mandated by the PURA Act 2001 is to protect
consumers in the regulated sectors and that this cannot be  done
effectively without the close collaboration with consumers and
consumer associations.
He said PURA as a regulator have developed relationship with the
Consumer Protection Associations over the years.
Mr. Samba said their Consumer Affairs Directorate is the watchdog in
protecting consumers in a professional manner. “We want to see
transparent, meaningful, comparable and up-to-date information and
policies that could be easily available to consumers, in line with the
revised United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection . It is
worth noting that Consumer protection and the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) go hand in hand to ensure greater consumer welfare
worldwide,” said Mr. Samba.

He said they wholeheartedly agree that consumers must have the ability
to exercise their rights, have clear and accurate information, and be
able to choose operators freely.
“It’s a very simple idea, which we call “consumer empowerment,”. This
requires building a good relationship with the consumer protection
groups like CPAG, FGI-CRCP. Over the years, we have collaborated on
different activities like consumer education, awareness and advocacy,
in particular, the consumer parliament, which is the larger platform
for the operators and consumers to dialogue in an open forum,” said
the Director of Human Resource and Consumer Affairs at PURA.

Speaking earlier, Mrs. Juka F. Jabang, chairperson of the ceremony,
said the MoU signing is
significant because it marks an important milestone in the history of
consumer protection efforts in the Gambia.

She said the two institutions are already making headways in the areas
of consumer rights and protection and that they are coming together
for a strategic partnership to jointly pursue their  common objectives
for consumer rights and protection in the Gambia.

Mrs. Jabang, congratulated the two institutions for taking the bold
decision to pull their resources together  in the interest of
efficiency . She said CPAG has taken significant steps in conducting
surveys such as Food Survey conducted jointly with NaNA and consumer
international and studies on the consumer laws that exists in the
Gambia and they have recently completed the implementation of good
market project in partnership with ASSET.

Mr. Amadou Gaye, the Chairperson of CPAG, after dwelling in detail on
the genesis of CPAG, said they have been participating in the
development of relevant  policies in the different economic sectors in
the country since its establishment in 2015 and they continue to be a
relevant association in the country.

For his part, Mr. Sulayman Madi Sillah, the Secretary General,
FGI-CRPC, said his organisation protects the right and interest of
consumers in the Gambia. He said their mission is to carry activities
that will increase consumer awareness on their rights and
responsibilities and to empower them.

The MoU was read out by Ms. Amie Jobarteh, a student at ITTOG, before
the document was signed by the Chairperson of CPAG and Secretary
General of FGI-CRPC.

The event was graced by Mr. Lamin Camara, Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI),
representatives from the relevant government ministries and agencies,
private sector operators, consumer associations and the media.