Youth associations, public and private organizations announced back in March their support of a roadmap to empower youth in The Gambia. The Youth and Trade Roadmap, which has been developed as part of the International Trade Centre’s Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) with the support of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, places skills development and entrepreneurship at the heart of a new effort to create jobs and opportunities in the West African country.
Around 100 representatives from more than 40 organizations gathered in the Gambian capital, Banjul, for a workshop to assess and validate the Youth and Trade Roadmap. The workshop was the final step in a series of consultations between youth associations, entrepreneurs, training institutions and public agencies on how to address job creation for youth in three priority sectors: information and communication technologies (ICT), nuts and agro-processing, and tourism.
The Youth and Trade Roadmap will serve as a guiding compass for the Government to bolster competitiveness and thereby reduce migration flows. In addition to setting out how to create opportunities for youth and strengthen trade, the roadmap presents an action plan with activities and priorities for integrating value-chain development that will enable the youth to access business opportunities in the target sectors. Specifically, it provides recommendations on improving productivity and quality, technical and vocational skills, market reach and diversification, and how to facilitate youth entrepreneurship.
Addressing the workshop Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, said. ‘Youth is bringing new ideas to solve and address old economic problems. To be successful, growth and development strategies should integrate a youth component because young people are the driving force of development.’
Dr. Isatou Touray, The Gambia’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, highlighted the benefits of working together in identifying opportunities to strengthen Gambian competitiveness and create quality jobs for youth. ‘The roadmaps serve as a blueprint for the joint implementation of strategic priorities identified in our Nation’s New Development Plan. As such they outline concrete economic opportunities in key industries and offer a plan to activate them by all stakeholders,’ she said.
Mr. Henry Gomez, Minister of Youth and Sports, said: ‘We need to implement strategies to tackle the outmigration of Gambian youths to urban areas and in particular irregular migration to Europe through the ‘backway’. The Youth and Trade Roadmap will activate concrete economic opportunities for decent jobs at home’. He also encouraged other development partners to adopt the framework to maximize development impact for young Gambians.
Mr. Attila Lajos, Ambassador of the European Union to The Gambia, said: ‘The Youth and Trade Roadmap addresses the root causes of youth migration in The Gambia by identifying job opportunities along value chains with high export potential and by promoting inclusive entrepreneurship schemes.’
Ms. Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s Deputy Executive Director, said that the Youth and Trade Roadmap demonstrated ITC’s commitment to support the building the new Gambia. ‘Youth, job creation and trade are the three powerful engines to seize new commercial and investment opportunities in The Gambia. By ensuring that more jobs and opportunities are created for the youth and young entrepreneurs, we are paving the way for economic growth in the country,’ she said.
The Youth and Trade Roadmap validation workshop was organized as part of the EU-funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) under the guidance of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS), and with technical assistance from ITC.
More information on the YEP website