The Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce wishes to invite you to an all-new webinar on the trends and developments taking shape in the business ecosystem of The Gambia, centring on the critical role of MSMEs (Micro, small and medium sized enterprises) for the sustainable economic development of the nation and the role of the Commonwealth in fulfilling this objective.
This webinar will take place on 7 August 2023 at 7:00 pm HKT/ 11:00 am GMT online via Zoom.
About the Event
The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa, encompassing a land area of approximately 11,300 km². But that’s as far as “small” goes for The Gambia.
The Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa with a dynamic 2.25 million strong population, 60% of which is at the age of 25 or below, that has created more than 120,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and contributed 20% of the nation’s GDP. MSMEs contribute to 90% of businesses and over 60 percent of employment worldwide and in The Gambia, MSMEs make up 95% of businesses and employ over 60% of the population, contributing about 20% to the country’s GDP. The nation’s economy has traditionally focused on largely on agriculture and tourism but since the pivotal change of government in early 2017, The Gambia has many significant changes in all aspects of its national and international policies with the main overarching goal being the diversification of exports and improvement of physical and digital infrastructure. The Gambian government has been committed, through The Gambia National Development Plan (2018-2021) and The Gambia Country Strategic Plan (2019-2024), to bolster the economy by supporting the bustling private sector in diversification experts.
The government is committed to focusing dedicated resources to startups via The Gambia National Entrepreneurship Policy which, launched in 2017, aims to create an enabling ecosystem for training and sustainably scaling startups and other budding MSMEs. Such initiatives have already borne impressive results; more MSMEs in The Gambia are becoming registered and being provided with the necessary certifications and training they need which has in turn revitalized the economy in the post-COVID-19 recovery period with the GDP growth rate returning to pre-pandemic rates of 4.5% and above; the GDP is expected to grow by 5.5% this year. More importantly for digitalisation, The Gambia has seen the number of internet users quadruple since 2010 (now at 36.5%), with an estimated annual growth rate of 2.5%. Apart from the untapped potential of the consumer and entrepreneurial market, The Gambia has entire industries that are yet to be explored. The country has one of the world’s largest and richest fishing zones with a continental shelf area of an impressive 3855 km2 and is becoming an upcoming player in the rapidly developing data centre industry. Becoming more prominent in the international arena this year, The Gambia joined the African Continental Free Trade Area in January also served as the destination for the meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) just this July.
Whilst earlier studies showcased the nation to have the lowest level of international aid and investment, international organisations have doubled their efforts in dedicated projects for this decade. In 2022, the World Food Programme launched the Gambia Agriculture and Food Security Project with the Ministry of Agriculture and the African Development Bank and the United Nations, via the United Nations Capital Development Fund and Country Development Programme, is working closely with the government on infrastructure and capacity building while the International Trade Centre has been working with The Gambia Investment and Export Promotional Agency on the Youth Empowerment Project, dedicated to upskilling young techsavvy entrepreneurs.
During this webinar, the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce will sit in conversation with the Hon. Abdoulie Njai, the youngest Member of Parliament at The Gambia National Assembly, to discuss the impactful role the Commonwealth in bolstering The Gambia’s climb to becoming an advanced economy within the African region. We will discuss the role of the Commonwealth Advantage, the empirically-evidenced phenomenon of 19% cheaper costs of bilateral trade amongst Commonwealth nations, MSMEs, government participation and public-private sector synergies to provide comprehensive and valuable insights into what is in store for the dynamic nations and a discussion on the dedicated next steps needed to propel The Gambia into the spotlight of the international business arena.
About the Speaker
The Hon. Abdoulie Njai
Member of Parliament, The Gambia National Assembly
Born in the capital city of Banjul, Njai began his professional career working for The Gambia’s Bureau of Statistics in 2014 after completing his advanced diploma in Engineering from The Gambia Technical Training Institute in 2010. During his 6 year tenure at the Bureau, Njai was, as he remains so today, an active voice advocating for the rights and betterment of his community. In 2014, he became the Chair of the Board for Directors for the NGO, Unity Foundation Gambia, focussing primarily on poverty alleviation and religious coexistence. In 2017, he became the Chairperson of the Development Oriented Citizens (D.O.C) Banjul, a non-political civil society organisation aiming to promote tolerant and progressive social values and advocating for the capacity building and skills development for the community as a priority. Njai maintained his responsibilities while pursuing his Bachelors of Science in Business Management and Marketing from the International Open University of The Gambia; he also attended a 1-year programme at the Wuhan University of Technology specialising in International Trade and worked as the Head of Sales and Marketing for VR Coating Africa during his undergraduate studies.
In 2020, Njai became a Global Peace Ambassador for the Global Peace Chain, an organisation committed to building resilience and inclusivity in cultural communities; Njai’s contributions to this role centred on his vast knowledge of regional and international trade. After completing his undergraduate studies, Njai became a Regional Associate for the World Youth Alliance in 2021, acting as a mentor for aspiring youth. His undeterred commitment to the betterment of Gambian society earned him a seat at the Parliament of The Gambian National Assembly in April 2022; currently, Njai is the youngest Member of Parliament. Njai was awarded the prestigious African Icon Award by the Youth Network for Positive Change in July of the same year for his achievements. Njai also has a fierce entrepreneurial spirit, having set up his own business “Jabana Enterprise” in 2018 at the age of 23.
Chairman, Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce
Julia is the founding and managing partner of Charltons, an award winning Hong Kong corporate finance Hong Kong law firm. Julia is admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong, England and Wales and the BVI. She practises in the field of corporate finance, including M&A, private equity, securities, virtual assets and funds.
Julia is a member of the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council (CWEIC)’s Global Advisory Council. She is also a member of several Hong Kong boards and committees, most notably The Takeovers and Mergers Panel and the Takeovers Appeals Committee of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and the Listing Review Committee of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Julia is also a Senior Fellow of the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute.