Neven Mimica

(JollofNews) – The European Union, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Government of the Gambia Thursday  launched a new initiative to support job creation and entrepreneurship for Gambian youth.

The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project is a four-year project that will benefit from €11 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and will strengthen the long-term competitiveness and viability of the country’s economy.

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica said: ‘This initiative funded under the European Emergency Trust Fund for addressing root causes of instability and irregular migration in Africa will also give the opportunity to restore hope for members of the diaspora and Gambians who migrated abroad.

‘In the past years, so many young Gambians have fled their country. Today the Gambia needs all of its sons and daughters to rebuild the country. And you need them in the Gambia, not abroad. Pilot initiatives will be targeting the diaspora more specifically by addressing their needs and promoting inclusive entrepreneurship schemes along various value chains with high potential for exports,’ he said.

ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘Today’s launch of the Youth Empowerment Project marks another building block to the construction of the New Gambia. One that will have youth, job creation and trade as its core element.

‘Trade will play a crucial role in achieving this and ITC is looking forward to working with the Gambian government, businesses, trade and investment support institutions to ensure that more jobs and opportunities are created for youth and entrepreneurs – and especially companies run by women.’

Isatou Touray, minister of Trade

The Gambia’s Minister for Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Isatou Touray, said: ‘The New Gambia dedicates itself to the battle against unemployment and creates the enabling environment for youths to unleash their potentials and together we shall succeed.’

By fostering economic opportunities, the Gambia Youth Empowerment Project will help stem the flow of young people leaving the Gambia using the ‘back-way’ in search of jobs abroad. Irregular migration claims many Gambian lives and stifles the socio-economic development of the country.

Taking a market-driven approach, the Youth Empowerment Project will focus on building specific skills among youth in a number of traditional sectors such as agriculture and tourism. These will continue to provide the bulk of economic development in the Gambia and must be recognized as the main drivers of socio-economic progress and job creation. It will also help diversify the Gambian economy by supporting the strengthening of ‘new’ sectors, including the creative and digital services industries.

As part of the initiative, ITC and the EU will work with local, national and international partners to implement skills-building projects in urban and rural areas across the Gambia. Partners such as trade-support institutions, industry associations and entrepreneurship incubators will play a crucial role in achieving the inclusive and sustainability goals of the Youth Empowerment Project. Particularly important will be to strengthen existing technical and vocational skills programmes to better match the need of business and markets.

Key achievements to be expected

The four-year project will focus on achieving the following:

· Strengthen existing youth development programmes and systems, and ensure that these are more adaptable to shifting market needs;

· Encourage the return of skilled Gambian migrants by supporting the creation of jobs across the country and supporting the re-integration of these into the economy and society;

· Provide support to trade promotion organization and other institutions in the development of accessible and flexible learning models and tools;

· Provide skills-building training and support programmes to young entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness and performance;

· Promote a shift from low-productivity subsistence work, especially farming, and into more productive activities in modern manufacturing and services;

· Raise awareness about skills training and development for 100,000 youth;

· Ensure that 7,000 youths complete technical or vocational training programme or an apprenticeship;

· Provide entrepreneurship services – such as business advisory support and access to finance – for at least 8,000 youth, and;

· Support and help improve the training programmes for 10 partner institutions.