The newly elected vice president for the GCCI, Alhagie EF Conteh, ManagingDirector, Dabanani Electrical Company Limited (DECL), has expressed appreciation for being singled out for a position of responsibility to serve as vice president of GCCI.
He made these remarks shortly after being elected as vice president of GCCI during the chamber’s AGM held last Friday, 2nd September 2022 at Sir Dawda Kairaba Conference Centre, Bijilo.
Mr. Conteh, a businessman, said it is indeed a great honour and as part of the leadership of the highly esteemed Gambia Chamber of commerce and Industry. “I am particularly humbled to be the Vice president of this noble institution,” saying they take over the leadership of the chamber with gratitude to their predecessors who had paved the way for the establishment and growth of the noble chamber.
He went further to express gratitude and appreciation to His Excellency Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, and his government for creating the enabling environment for the thriving of not only their businesses but also institutions like the chamber of commerce that facilitate the smooth operation of their enterprises.
“With the leadership of the Chamber of commerce and the administrative team, led by the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Sarata Conteh , we intend to further facilitate and support the operation of local companies, especially SMEs,” he disclosed.
He said; that all over the world, countries support and protect local enterprises in a globalized economic system that gradually reduces the relevance of geographic borders.
As a small open economy, he said The Gambia should not be an exception to the ethos of supporting and enhancing the competitiveness of local enterprises.
Given the foregoing, “The Gambia chamber of commerce will strive to institutionalize the requirement of Gambia partners for incoming foreign investors. Such a policy will promote local business and help expand the domestic economy in a way that will improve the welfare of citizens.”
“Given the small size of our economy, local businesses could be put to a disadvantage if left to them to compete with stronger companies coming from abroad with broader and better resources bases for investment and marketing.
“Therefore, we shall strive to encourage the government to divide major contracts into small lots and temper down qualification criteria so that our companies can quality, grow and be able to compete in the international market. We shall encourage the government to keep in mind the above needs of local companies when they negotiate future loans and grant for national projects,” he explained.
According to him, the chamber will also tap into existing grant funds within the international community so that it can provide interest-free loans for SMEs.
He added that this will help their struggling upstarts to mature into bigger companies and untimely compete in the global market.
Over the years, he expressed, administrative and other bottlenecks have hampered the re-export trade to the detriment of the country’s economy, but with the leadership of the president of the chamber of commerce, he said they shall endeavour to work with the government of The Gambia to ensure free movement of goods and services. As signatories to the ECOWAS protocols on free movement, The Gambia has always complied with these principles.
Talking about the neighboring countries, he said, therefore, the neighbours should also enhance their rates of compliance, international relations are based on reciprocality so our neighbours should also accommodate Gambia products and allow free movement of goods and services across the common borders as enshrined in the regional agreements.
Mr. Conteh noted that a revitalized re-export trade would improve the foreign exchange earnings, thereby enhancing exchange rate stability; and it will also help SMEs to grow and diversify for sustainability.
The foregoing vision can be accomplished with teamwork and dedication to the ideals of the chamber, he said while saying “I am appealing to all members to work together and remain united for the attainment of sustained progress and prosperity towards our common good.
“With the leadership of the president of the chamber, we will all align our energies and networking resources for effective performance and speedy attainment of our goals.”