DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 24:  A worker takes a break at a construction site next to new highrise office buildings and hotels under construction in the new City Center and West Bay district on October 24, 2010 in Doha, Qatar. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently reiterated its projection for the Qatari economy with predictions of double digit growth for 2010 and 2011. Though natural gas and petroleum production are still the biggest two single sources of income, the non-energy sector overtook oil and gas in Qatari GDP for 2009. Qatar is heavily dependant on foreign labour from countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Phillipines and other Arab countries. Foreigners make up approximately two thirds of the Qatari population.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Qatari businesses hopeful of Gambia investment

Qatar’s businesses have responded positively to calls by Gambia’s Foreign Minister, Ousainou Darboe for investors in the Gulf State to explore the market in the West African nation.

Gambia’s new government offered full guarantees and pledged to protect foreign businesses, especially in renewable energy.

The country is struggling with power cuts after the former administration siphoned millions from the country’s only power company. The company, NAWEC is also owned billions in past due bills.

“All these investments are protected and we offer full guarantees. Energy is a sector with a lot of potential for investors. We want plenty of investment in the energy sector particularly renewable energy,” said Ousainou Darboe, Gambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Gambia had been economically isolated after its former President Yahya Jammeh interfered with foreign exchange rates and dictated economic policies against IMF warnings.

“Renewable energy represents an area of tremendous opportunity for The Gambia. Investment opportunities that exist for the renewable energy resources include utility-scale power generation in urban and peri-urban set-ups and mini-grid or off-grid solutions in remote and rural areas,” according to Gambian business analyst, Ebrima Sawaneh.

The EU has put in more than €75M in immediate funding and €150M in the longer term to help Gambia create jobs for its majority youthful population.

13,000 youths, more than half the size of the population of the Gambia’s capital had applied for asylum in Europe after perilously journeying across the Mediterranean.

Gambia’s service sector employs more than 50% of its workforce taking over the agricultural sector. Gambia is seeking to have its agro-products exported to Qatar, says Mr. Darboe, just days after the administration lifted a ban on vegetable importation.

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