The Gambian Vice President, Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, has commissioned the country’s first ever Information, Communication Technology (ICT) Assembly Plant Complex at Serekunda near the capital Banjul over the weekend.
The factory complex has two Training Centers, an ultra-modern product Showroom, a two-line state-of-the art Production Plant capable of assembling 500 mobile phones and 200 computer laptops daily, and after-sales and repair facilities. The factory is an investment by ICT assembling company Rlg Communications Limited. Rlg Communications is a Ghanaian computer assembling company owned by businessman Roland Agambire. Rlg also produces the ‘UHURU’ brand of laptops.
The plant alone cost $500, 000 but the total investment by Rlg in the West African state since 2009 comes to $7.5 million. At the commissioning, the Gambian government announced it had granted Rlg a 5 year tax holiday as a way of stimulating investment and entrepreneurship business in the West African country.
The factory commissioning ceremony was attended by an array of dignitaries from the Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia and also watched by large number of elated ordinary Gambians.
As many as eight Gambian state ministers, many of whom with cabinet ranks were present as well as delegations from the National Communication Commission of Sierra Leone and the World Bank office in Freetown who are seeking to support Rlg to replicate the investment in Sierra Leone.
The event also saw the graduation of thirty trainees of the Youth-In–ICT training programme which is been run by Rlg Communications Gambia and The Gambia Priority Employment Programme (Gamjobs) under the Gambian Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment.
Rlg has been operating in the Gambia since 2009, implementing a project to train Gambian youth in ICT with support from the Gambian government.
Vice President Saidy told the ceremony the Gambian government has taken a decision to grant a 5-year tax moratorium to Rlg in view of the crucial social impact implications of their training and job creation interventions in the Gambia.
She said by moratorium, Rlg will have taxes on Mobile Phones and Computer parts imported waived under a special corporate tax certificate issued to the Ghanaian company.
“This facility will forever deepen Gambia-Ghana diplomatic, bilateral and economic relations, which has existed for many years and also give real meaning to the ECOWAS regional integration agenda,” she told gathering.
The commissioning of the Plant brings to two the number of such facilities in West Africa after the one in Accra and it comes few months ahead of the opening of similar facility in the Nigerian state of Oshun where Rlg is also working with the state government to empower the youth in the state through entrepreneurship and ICT training.
The Gambian Minister for Trade, industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Kebba Touray assured Gambian youths of more social interventions and schemes to address youth unemployment.
The Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure, Nana Grey-Johnson said the setting of the factory will provide Gambia with the trained manpower needed to drive our ICT agenda and also offer us choices in the world of ICT Devices.He appealed to Rlg to consider relocating its head offices from Ghana to the Gambia.The Minister for Basic and Secondary Education of the Gambia, Fatou Lamin Faye said the facility would enhance education delivery especially at technical level.
Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Communications, Victoria Hammah said the government of Ghana is strongly behind this relationship between a proudly Ghanaian firm collaborating with governments of neighboring countries to expand ICT services, accelerate the job creation agenda and revitalise the economies of the beneficiary countries.
She said “by so doing, we will also be seeking to render an unflinching commitment towards trade and economic integration among our neighbors and members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)”.
The Ghanaian Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), Rashid Pelpuo who led the government delegation commended the PPP arrangement through which the project was conceived and funded, saying “PPP lends itself as an important tool to facilitate the implementation of the nation’s critical investment programmes developing countries”.
The Chief Executive of Rlg, Roland Agambire reiterated his desire to build an African brand worthy of the ever-changing competitive global market while helping governments on the continent to solve youth unemployment challenges.
The Country Director of Rlg Gambia, Papa Yusupha Njie, said the facility will enable more Gambian youth to gain access to ICT training at a much cheaper cost.
The Company, he said had also begun a new project offering solar-powered kiosks to beneficiaries of the training to facilitate their start-up.
Rlg intends using the Gambian success as springboard to enter neighboring Sierra Leone, Senegal and Liberia.