By Bubacarr Komma
July 19, 2021
The Gambia is not attracting quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that will help catapult the economy to greater heights.
Economic experts at the International Growth Centre (IGC) have clearly stated that to attract FDI, “host countries cannot just wait and see what international market forces may bring to them. Rather, they need tailored policies to overcome domestic imperfections that hinder the smooth integration of indigenous and foreign firms into world-wide supply-chain networks”.
The IGC experts also listed some pre-requisites for Successful FDI, which amongst others are to “provide open, transparent and dependable conditions for all kinds of firms, whether foreign or domestic, including: ease of doing business, access to imports, relatively flexible labour markets and protection of intellectual property rights, as well as setting up an Investment Promotion Agency that could target suitable foreign investors and then become the link between them and the domestic economy”.
On paper, it looks like The Gambia has fulfilled the aforementioned conditions.
However, a Gambian investment consultant (name withheld) told this medium that the country is lacking FDI because the government has no clear cut investment strategy.
He said: “Some years ago the Single Window Business Registration was introduced; incentives were also provided for investors, like provision of land, tax holidays etc., to be administered by the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA). But now we also have an investment office at State House. So what is GIEPA’s role, given that they are supposed to be the investment experts?”
The investment consultant also cited corruption in high places as another reason Gambia is not attracting FDI. He accused some government officials of demanding kick-backs from some foreign interests that wanted to set up shop in the country, in the process scaring them away.
His words: “I know of a hospitality business that is presently flourishing in Senegal. The owners initially came to The Gambia, but got discouraged when bribe was demanded before they will be given what they need to establish in this country. Even myself, I know what I passed through, how I have been frustrated because some people somewhere want their palms greased before issuing me the relevant documents that will facilitate the visit of some high profile foreign companies I had already convinced to come and set up in The Gambia.”
He then warned that Gambia is losing out economically, as investors now prefer to establish in neighbouring Senegal, where the authorities have put the right policies in place to make the investment climate very conducive.
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