The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE) in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), on Thursday, September 21, 2023, convened a day forum to validate the first-ever Gambia National Formalization Strategy Document at the Bakadaji Hotel.
The forum brought together different stakeholders, government representatives, trade unions, and employers’ associations, among others.
The strategy aims to unlock the immense potential of the informal sector, which is a substantial contributor to our economy. With its operational action plan, the strategy is a guide for the transformation of the informal sector and it outlines the challenges faced by enterprises in their attempts to transition into formality and proposes strategies, actions, and initiatives the government needs to employ with its partners, to ease the entire process of formalization.
Declaring the validation workshop open, Mr. Lamin Dampha, the Permanent Secretary at MoTIE deputizing for the Minister of Trade, thanked the ILO through their national project office for supporting the development of The Gambia’s first-ever National Formalization Strategy.
He described the occasion as a crucial step towards achieving inclusive economic growth, social dialogue, and decent work in The Gambia through a systematic approach to the formalization of economic units and informal sector workers.
Informality, he said, is persistent in Sub-saharan Africa and The Gambia is no exception. “According to The Gambia LabourForce Survey 2023, persons employed in the informal sector constitute about 62.8% of total employment and of that, women constitute 84.7%. Based on the economic activity, employment in the agricultural sector is almost completely informal with 96.4% employment. In the non-agricultural sector, three workers out of four are engaged in informal employment,” Damphastated, noting that this shows how severe informality is in The Gambia context and these severities do not only deter economic growth and development but affect social well-being and access to basic services.
In conclusion, he noted that by promoting formalization, it strives to ensure economic stability, generate job opportunities, augment government revenue, uplift living standards, and alleviate poverty. He further informed the participants that formalization will facilitate increased investments and improved access to credit while creating greater prospects for entrepreneurship and innovation.
For her part, Ajara Jallow, the National Project Coordinator, ILO Gambia office thanked the Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, the minister of Trade through his permanent secretary Mr. Lamin Dampha and the entire staff of the Ministry for their support and dedication throughout the consultation process. She commended the Consultant Mr Abdou Touray and the stakeholders for their contributions towards the compilation of this document as their comments are taken note of and highlighted in the document.
Mr. Omar Badjie, the Director of the Directorate of Industry and Investment Development at MoTIE, chaired the occasion and thanked the participants for attending the validation of this important document that will help the informal sector workers.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment recently signed an Implementation Agreement (IA) with the International Labour Organization (ILO), through its Formalization of The Gambia’s Informal Sector Project, to develop an integrated national strategy and an operational action plan for the formalization and transformation of the informal sector in The Gambia. The development of the Strategy was preceded by a nationwide regional tripartite stakeholder consultation, to gauge understanding of the formalization process, especially from the perspective of the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) eco-system.