The unemployment rate in the Gambia is currently at its highest in the last two decades driven by a series of events including the effects of climate change and variability on agricultural productivity as well as economic constraints related to the repressive atmosphere under the prior administration that made foreign investment and local entrepreneurship difficult.

The emergence of democratic change however, has resulted in renewed optimism that there will be an overall improvement in the employment sector. As confidence is built in the new government, we can safely predict that unemployment will fall for the first time in 22 years and that private sector employment will increase for our youths, women and the general public at large.

Employment is essential for the wellbeing of all individuals. Work improves the morale and integrity of a person. In boosting one’s self confidence, employment foresters the development of moral values such as teamwork and cooperation. It is essential for commercial institutions and businessmen as a source for skills to successfully build a business. They need to employ people that will help them achieve their primary goals.

Employed persons are an asset to any society as it generates income not only to the person working but also for the company the person is associated with. In return, that company pays taxes to the government thus generating income for the country that will be used for the benefit of the people at large in sectors such as road works and infrastructures or to support government related projects in the sectors of  housing, education and health to name a few.

Employment opportunities are important to the Gambian economy for a number of reasons.  One of the most important reasons is that jobs are by far the primary source of income for Gambian households. Unemployment is fought in all societies because the unemployed without an earning capacity, suffer from a vicious circle of problems: a case in point being the back way syndrome adopted by our youths; a problem our country as a whole is crippled with. Another very important reason that employment is important is that unemployed people who want to work are a valuable resource that go untapped. When qualified workers seek meaningful jobs and are unable to find them, we can legitimately view this as an aggregate waste.

As Politicians and policy makers the major challenges we face is not in only creating jobs, but rather in fostering an environment where meaningful jobs created are sustained for the long-run. For us to succeed in this area we must put in place an adequate tax system or create money / wealth so that one can pay workers to be engaged in meaningful employment opportunities and skill creation for our youths, women and men that add a net value to our society as a whole.

One of the initiatives launched by my administration is the Youth Employment Project in partnership with the European Union (EU) and The International Trade Center (ITC). This four year project aims to create employment opportunities for Gambian youth by promoting the competitiveness and viability of the Gambian economy.

Hon. Dr Isatou Touray Minister for Trade, Regional Integration & Employment.