The Gambia is milking and can continue to milk economic dividends from the global recognition arising from the historic 1st December 2016, Presidential elections that was widely hailed and described as an indication of great hope for democracy in Africa and particularly for the Gambia, which President Yahya Jammeh had ruled with an iron fist for twenty-two years, transforming the Gambia from dictatorship to democracy.
President Barrow’s election was also perhaps the most important political development in the Gambia in fifty-two years, the change of government through democratic, free and fair elections.
Now, the Gambia is being hailed as a beacon of democracy in Africa and the world. In equal measure investors and tourists have adopted a wait and see attitude until round of transition and reforms cycle is progressing. Unfortunately branding The Gambia, Gambia Tourism Authority, Gambia Investment Authority, the Ministry of Tourism and Trade are dead silent.
I am not seeing any positive sovereign branding in local and international media, promoting the image of the country as a peaceful and stable investment destination. It would be good to have adverts promoting the Gambia running on CNN, the BBC and other major outlets.
(We have on aggregate, as a country used about US$1 million on travels, per-diem payments and engaged on non-essential expenditures, etc., etc.) Such adverts can help in countering the negative perception of uncertainty of the country prevailing around the world.
The biggest losers of such negativity are sectors that heavily rely on foreign inflows like the capital markets and the hospitality sector. Unlike the Gambia, the Mauritius government takes national branding seriously. That is why the Mauritius brand ranks highly than the Gambia. Dubai’s rise as an investment and tourism destination in the middle of a desert, heavily relies on deliberate branding and promotion by the government.
As a nation, we must not subvert the transition and reforms process and program. Anybody who subverts the transition process must be hang for treason. Let the legitimate will of the people prevail. At the end, if the transition and reforms cycle executes successfully, the Gambians comes out as a favorable investment destination, a working democracy with strong institutions.
Investors love predictability, stability, rule of law and incorruptible judges, in case of commercial disputes and political stability.