By Adama Makasuba
At least 35 Gambian journalists have been trained on Ecowas Protocol and Africa Continental Free Trade (ACFTA) that aimed to help the trainees to have in-depth knowledge on the Ecowas protocols and its treaties to effectively report on issues affecting the region.
The daylong training held at National Nutrition Agency, Bakau was also meant to help the trainees better understand the role of media in promotion of regional integration within the west African regions and it was organised by the Network of Financial and Tax Reporters (NFTR) Gambia Chapter in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment,
Speaking at the opening of the training, President of NFTR Abdoulie Nyockeh said there is need for more awareness creation on the Ecowas legal instruments, saying one of the fundamental factors affecting jobs of journalists “is lack of capacity building.”
He dilated on the numerous implemented activities of the network since its establishment in 2019, while describing the forum as timely as it gears towards strengthens the capacity of journalists to better report on cross-border situations.
“Supporting and empowering the media is crucial in the country’s development aspiration. And the network seeks to equip and enhance competence of Gambian journalists through building their capacity to ensure they become more responsible journalists in the country,” he added
Ebrima Sisawo, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Trade also described the training timely, noticing that their contribution to the international trade is very minimal, “just around 3 (%) percent. I think the performance is very low and it is only through this regional integration that we can out-perform,” he said.
“The rate that we are trading among ourselves is also very low – is about 18 (%) percent. If you compare that to Asia is about 55 (%) percent,’’ he explained.
“So, your role as media practitioners is very important because people need to know what is out there for them, especially in a business environment. There are lot opportunities as far as the regional integration is concerned but you cannot take advantage of an opportunity if you do not know that it is there for you,” he expressed.
He therefore assured his ministry’s continuous support to the network saying one of their biggest objectives is to create more and more awareness, saying they cannot create this awareness without the media.
Muhammed M.S Bah, the Vice President of The Gambia Press Union (GPU), urged the trainees to intensively engage government officials on the Ecowas protocol and ACFTA to help the public understand them better.
“I think I will commend the President and his network for coming up with this great initiative. It should not stop here,” he urged while advising them to have a monitoring mechanism in order to hold themselves and members to account.
Alhagie Jeng, Executive Secretary of Gambia Bankers Association, encouraged journalists to be reporting more on financial issues.