President Adama Barrow has urged Gambians living abroad to invest in the country, pledging his government’s support to those hoping to return and contribute to rebuilding the country.
The Gambia has been subjected to decades of political and economic isolation under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh. Many Gambian businesses left the country for other West African nations.
President Barrow made this pledge at a business forum in Banjul. The brainchild behind the forum, Mustapha Njie was a businessman that was chased out of the country by Mr. Jammeh.
Njie took his real estate business to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy rebranding his company from Taf Gambia to Taf Africa. He has returned to the country following Jammeh’s ouster.
Jammeh was defeated in the 2016 election by Mr. Barrow. A coalition of opposition parties backed him but the financial support to take on Jammeh came from the Diaspora. The Gambian community abroad embarked on decades of activism against Jammeh causing a rift between the ex-autocratic ruler and Western leaders.
Gambians abroad are as an important economically as they are politically. They contribute 22 percent of the country’s gross domestic product wiring home more than $120 million in remittances.
Several Gambians have returned to establish businesses. A lot more are hoping to return to the country but are watching the economic forecast of the country, and the governance and security situation.
Jammeh is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea, where he is stateless and restricted after Gambian authorities revoked his passport. His departure has seen more Gambians returned to the country last month for vacation, adding to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and apparent positive economic impact their return will have.