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NEWS : Photo News  

The Gambia marks 41st Independence anniversary
By Sayo Kamara
Mar 14, 2006, 15:29

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The tiny West African State of The Gambia on 18th February 2006 celebrated her 41st Independence anniversary amid pomp and fanfare.

President Yayah Jammeh flanked by his wife (all in white) as The Gambian National Anthem is sang by the Pupils of the various schools at the Parade ceremony

The occasion also witnessed the commissioning of vast number of social infrastructure as well as business houses mainly from the private sector, a segment that has played a major role in the socio-economic revitalization of the Gambias since the coming to power of the present President and Head of State, His Excellency Alhaji Dr. Yayah A.J.J.Jammeh, who first came to power in a military coup in July 1994.

The week-long celebrations which was attended by the Presidents of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira, the Head of the Military Administration in Mauritania, Colonel Mohamed Ould Val and the King of Morocco, Mohamed VIs started on Friday, 17th with thanks-giving prayers in mosques all over the country.

Gambian traditional dancers drapped in their country's national colours formed part of the several thrilling performances at the 22nd July Square

On the D-day, Saturday, 18th, thousands of Gambians from all works of life and from all over the country converged at the July 22nd Square to watch the Independence day parade of the various wings of the security forces, school children, voluntary and cultural organizations and so on.

As early as 0700 hours in the morning the proud Gambian people had almost crowded the square and as the sun burned over head, the chilling Atlantic wind blew soothingly underneath, which was an indication that what they were seemingly suffering for was worthy of it.

Sitting at the Presidential daise from left to right: President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, the Gambia's First Lady, Mrs Jammeh, President Yayah Jammeh and President of Guinea Bissau, Joao Bernado Nino Vieira

As far as the Gambian people were concerned, their country has come of age, away from her state of decadence and backwardness. In the words of President Jammeh, "The Gambia is now competing with countries around the world as equals in this 21st century."

Indeed, Gambians had something to celebrate and something to sacrifice under the sun for. It was not only a celebration of 41 years of self governance; it was a celebration of emancipation from a state of inferiority complex to one of recognition of ones dignity and respect as a citizen. I

Sitting at the Presidential and watching the Independence parade, the Gambia First Lady hang head with husband, President Jammeh

t was also a celebration of a positive discrimination in the interest of the Gambian people within the national context of human resource development and empowerment. Indeed, Gambians had cause to celebrate!

Apart from the glamorous cultural displays which conspicuously characterized the entire celebrations; it was also a moment of eating and drinking. Each day of the celebrations was marked by ostensible buffets and dinners, which also provided the hotels and restaurants much to do and profit from.

Sierra Leoneans living in the Gambia were also very visible during the Independence parade

Also as part of this remarkable celebration was the commissioning of several business concerns, put up by the thriving Gambian private sector.

One of such business concerns, the Futurelec Holdings branch was commissioned by Her Excellency the Vice President of the Gambia Dr. Ajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy. This business conglomerate, had epitomized its presence in the form of a huge five storey complex constructed conspicuously along the sea side highway, which the Honourable Vice President referred to as having "magnificently face-lifted the vicinity around this strategic highway in our national road network."

Gambian Fullah traditional dancers were also among the dancing troops that added flavour to the ceremony

The futurelec conglomerate is interested in a variety of areas covering agriculture, trading in food stuff, construction, transport, tourism, energy, housing and manufacturing. According to VP Isatou Njie-Saidy, "These areas of endeavours (by Futurelec) are imbued with opportunities that have the potential to contribute towards poverty reduction and the drive towards the realization of the mission statement of the National Vision 2020," she said.

Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy went on to indicate that the favourable investment atmosphere in the Gambia and her mutually beneficial commercial links with especially neighbouring countries, "must have influenced the decision of Futurelec to put this permanent establishment to facilitate expanded operations," she maintained.

President Nino Vieira of Guinea Bissau was accorded the honour to officially commission the new building ofQuantum Associates, Gambia's thriving ICT service provider

She also stressed the need for Futurelec to "enhance competition, provide employment opportunities and transfer of management and production skills to the Gambian people. The fulfilment of these expectations will be a welcome contribution to job creation and capacity building which will have positive impact on the PRSP, the medium term plan as well as enhance the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets."

The independence celebrations also witnessed the commissioning of yet another magnificent complex owned by another private business concern, Quantum Associates an ICT service provider as well as a training outlet for the Gambian youths. The ceremony marking the commissioning of this magnificent edifice was performed by His Excellency the President of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira.

The new Quantum Associates complex at the Kanifing Industrial Estate

In his statement, the Managing Director of Quantum Associates Company Limited, Mr. Gibril Jibi Chorr noted that keeping the Gambian people up-to-date with advancement in ICT is an absolute necessity as it requires raising the performance bar of Gambians to a very high level.

Mr. Jibi Chorr also noted that educating their Gambian compatriots and keeping them abreast with technological advancement has had positive impact on the nations socio-economic development of the country. He went on to note further that, "it is our civic and moral responsibility to move our dear country out of technological obscurity."

Vice President Hajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy performing the ceremonial tape cutting excercise marking the official commissioning of the Futurelec Complex

Quantum Associates according to Mr, Jibi Chorr, is blessed with human resources from different countries across the West African sub region, which he maintained is the basis of his companys resourcefulness, vitality and strength which is reflected in its performance.

Mr. Jibi Chorr asserted that a dynamic private sector, capable of partnering with government to provide better living standard for its people, can only be the result of patriotism, sincere effort and intelligent direction.

Vice President Hajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy making a statement during the commissioning ceremony of the Futurelec complex

He therefore encouraged the Gambia government to put in place the following steps for more investment in technology:

A) Putting in place policies and incentives that will encourage risk taking in ICT

B) Have incentives that will encourage investment in the rural areas

C) Encourage investment in ICT infrastructure and

D) Encourage investment in ICT human resources.

Quantum Associates has speciality in a variety of ICT programmes and it is on record for taking Global Industry standard training to the Gambia.

The magnificent Futurelec complex has added beauty to the Gambia's sea side highway.

President Jammeh has always recognized the critical role that ICT must play in the Gambias development, which is why the Department of State for Communications, Information and Technology was set up. He had also noted that bridging the digital divide to unleash and harness the tremendous potentials of ICTs to achieve the objectives of his governments Vision 2020 and the MDGs is a major preoccupation of his government.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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