PRESIDENT BARROW OPENS THE SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE

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SPEECH BY H.E. ADAMA BARROW, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

EVENT: THE INAUGURAL CEREMONY OF THE SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE,

VENUE: BIJILO

DATE: SATURDAY, 11 JANUARY, 2020

Her Excellency The Vice Presieednt

Former Vice Presidents here present

Her Excellency Lady Chileh Jawara

Madam Speaker,

Honourable Cabinet Ministers,

Secretary General and Head of Civil Service,

Honourable Members of The National Assembly,

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,

Your Excellency, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to The Gambia

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am proudly elated and singularly honoured to officially inaugurate this magnificent edifice in the heart of the beautiful Bijilo National Park. Without doubt, it is an attractive landmark on our seafront overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, which Ambassador Ma Jianchun once described as “the Pearl of the Smiling Coast.”

As a tribute to the first President of the Republic, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, we have opted to name it as Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.

The construction of this Centre was a prioritised project, as it is a pre-requisite for hosting the Organization of Islamic Conference Summit in 2022.

The facility has also come to fill a long-standing need for a tourism and development niche, as reflected in the National Development Plan (2018-2021).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre is a Fifty Million US Dollar (US$ 50 Million) Project, grant-aided by the People’s Republic of China. 

The magnitude of the project demonstrates The People’s Republic of China’s resolve to link its development plan with development support to The Gambia and Africa as a whole.

It is a new relationship rooted in a mutually beneficial cooperation formula for Africa and The People’s Republic of China.  I am pleased to observe, however, that the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre is one of its kind in the region.

Many will marvel at its uniquely appealing design and the construction techniques that make it so elegant. These aside, its specifications comply with The Gambia National Public Building and Facilities Policy (2018-2027).

In addition to various facilities, the fourteen thousand square-metre floor, with a sitting capacity conference hall of over one thousand persons, gives the Centre the edge to host major international meetings.

Government opts for an operational management and maintenance mechanism system that guarantees its optimal financial sustainability and proper upkeep. Such option is to subject it to a facility management model that best provides such safeguards.

I am hopeful that the Centre will give The Gambia the opportunity to attract and host meetings, incentive travels, conventions, conferences and exhibitions.

Besides creating avenues for important decision makers to visit our country, the Centre will surely provide opportunities for employment, open up the tourism industry market, enhance transport services and expose our diversity and culture to the world.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Against this backdrop, we are profoundly grateful to the People’s Republic of China for their support to The Gambia and, generally, for leading an unprecedented alliance to pursue “the Belt and Road” initiative aimed at establishing the longest trade route in the world.

Some of you will recall that during the 2018 FOCAC Summit, the People’s Republic of China announced eight major initiatives to collaborate with African countries, including The Gambia.

The initiative has unlocked Chinese investments in Africa. In The Gambia, in particular, examples include financing of the Twenty-Five Million US Dollar ($25 Million) National Broadband Network Project, the Eighty Million US Dollar ($80 Million) URR Road and Bridges Project and this Fifty Million US Dollar ($50 Million) International Centre Project.

Evidently, the People’s Republic of China is one of our strongest partners. With them, we will continue to explore new frontiers, ranging from cultural exchanges to trade and investment expansion through a South-South Cooperation framework.

Bilaterally, my government will continue to work with the Chinese Government, and remain supportive of the One-China Policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this historic achievement signals a new era of opportunities, potential prosperity and dignity for Gambians.

Importantly, it is part of a never-ending national effort to facilitate trade and investment, modernise our infrastructure and revive the service sectors.

I have noted that the project engaged more than five hundred workers over a two-year period.  It provided opportunity for transfer of knowledge and skills to Gambian nationals for the development of our local construction industry.

On behalf of every Gambian, I extend deep gratitude to the Contractor, Jiangsu Provincial Construction Company, and the Consultant, PMC, for the magnificent work completed ahead of schedule. We commend the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure also for the lead role they played in the project. Last but not least, we sincerely thank all the supervisors, staff and workers who took part in the works.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

With much joy and honour, I now declare the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre officially open.

God bless us all.

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