President Adama Barrow

(JollofNews) – President Adama Barrow of the Gambia Thursday laid the foundation stone of an International Conference Center (ICC) estimated to cost US$50 Million dollar  in Bijilo, some 9 km away from Banjul.

The ICC is the first of its kind and is expected to boost tourism in the tiny West African nation.

“This event marks another significant milestone in our collective drive to transform and modernize this great nation in line with the philosophy and dictates of the New Gambia,” said the Gambians leader in his address witnessed by hundreds of Gambians.

In May this year, President Adama Barrow presided over the signing ceremony of a fifty Million Dollar grant for the construction of an International Conference Center in The Gambia. The project agreement was endorsed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Ousainou Darbo and Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia Zhang Jiming. It is the first major project since the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Barrow said the laying of the foundation stone is symbolic of a new era of potential opportunities, prosperity, greater freedom and dignity for our people.

He further stated that when the ICC complex will be fully operational, it will provide seating capacity of about 1000 conference participants. “The centre will house 4 thematic halls with 200 seating capacity, 1 VIP holding room, 4 press rooms, 14 meetings rooms, offices, banquet halls and other supporting rooms,” he revealed.

Slated to last for two years, the construction of this major project is described by Mr Barrow as part of a strategic partnership
“based on mutual respect and common interest.” He then added: “The construction of the ICC comes at the right time, to showcase the new Gambia, as a viable and peaceful destination, and as a place of democracy, good governance, rule of law, and freedom of speech.”

Barrow expressed hope that the construction of the conference centre will be completed before the hosting by Gambia of the 2019 organisation of Islamic Conference summit.

The Chinese Ambassador to Gambia Zhang Jiming said the ICC project is a good embodiment of China’s policy principles towards Africa. “The ICC project demonstrates China’s resolve to closely combine its own development with assisting the development of Gambia and Africa as a whole so as to realize win-win cooperation for common development,” he said.

Ambassador Zhang Jiming further indicated that China’s footprints on the infrastructure development in Africa are many and obvious.

“China has provided financial support to help Africa build more than 6000 kilometers of railway, more than 5000 kilometers of highway, 100 ports, airports and power stations, nearly 100 hospitals and more 200 schools and quite a few conference centers including the African Union Conference center at Addis Ababa,” he recalled.