[ACCI-CAVIE] Vice President Badara Joof, on Friday october 14th, 2022, stated that the 1st Nigeria-Gambia trade fair will test the international market for their products and services and reinforce the economic relations between business operators and counterpart agencies in both countries for effective and profitable participation in The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and global trade markets.
The VP’s speech was delivered by the newly appointed Minister of Trade, Baboucar O. Joof during the maiden edition of a sub-regional trade fair of The Gambia and Nigeria. The exhibition is an initiative of the West African, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Exhibition (WAMSMEE) and was organised by The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), in partnership with The Nigerian High Commission in The Gambia.
The ongoing event is funded by The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN) of Nigeria.
The theme for the exhibition is “Ahead of AFCFTA, strengthening West African MSMEs capacity to boost Intra-Regional Trade.”
He added that the collective benefit will be for the local entrepreneurs and businesses in The Gambia to have the opportunity to exchange business norms and values with their Nigerian counterparts which would ultimately strengthen the bilateral relationship that has existed for long between the two countries.
“The Gambia is in a process of an economic and digital transition. Since the change to democratic government in 2017, the government has not only focused on redirecting and re-structuring the country’s human and material resource base, but we have also directed our vision to boost Inter-African trade and promote values inherent to our beliefs, product and services,” he stated.
He said the MSME exhibition with the theme: ‘Ahead of AfCFTA: Strengthening West African MSMEs Capacity to Boost Intra – Regional’ is a clear manifestation of our collective actions as Africans committed to igniting an action-oriented process of development that is not only scripted in treaties and protocols but implemented to get results and improve the lives of our people.
Olawale Fasanya, Director- General/Chief Executive Officer of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) said Nigeria has over 39million MSMEs that contribute over 46% to the country’s GDP and are responsible for over 61million jobs in Nigeria. However, he said the contribution of the sub-sector to Nigeria’s export basket is just about 6% which is evidence that the sub-sector is not globally competitive, hence the need to tap more into willing regional market like The Gambia.
He added that the exhibition is expected to help resolve challenges faced by MSMEs with regards to market access both in Nigeria and The Gambia with the possibility of preparing them to effectively and profitably benefit from regional AFCFTA and global market initiatives.
According to him, the fair would provide the needed platform for future business to business, business and government and government to government cooperation as well as reduce insecurity, corruption and other political issues that have not allowed MSME space to be fully developed.
Sarata Conteh, Chief Executive Officer at GCCI in her remarks on behalf of her president commended both countries for ensuring that the event’s inception in The Gambia. She encouraged them to foster more relationship to better explore more opportunities to help MSMEs.
Ousainou Senghore, CEO for The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) said considering this urgent need to tap and attract more investment opportunities for destination Gambia, the promotional agency has started sourcing international markets and the exhibition of The Gambia and Nigeria is a clear manifestation of collective actions to promote regional trade under the theme: “Ahead of AfCFTA: Strengthening West African MSMEs Capacity to Boost Intra – Regional Trade”
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By Pa Modou C., A.N and LB