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GIEPA CEO Identifies Land Availability As A Major Challenge

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Officials From GIEPA

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

The CEO of the Gambia Investment And Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), Ousainou Senghore, told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) that finding land for investors is a big challenge in the Gambia.

Speaking during the consideration of their Activity Report and Financial Statement on Monday, February 26, 2024, Senghore emphasized the struggle GIEPA encounters in securing land for potential investors. Drawing a comparison with the efficiency of processes in neighboring Senegal, he noted the swift provision of land by Senegal’s investment agency APIX, while in the Gambia, the process is considerably slower, often taking six months to a year.

“We don’t tend to face much of a problem in teams of registrations, where we face challenges is the availability of land. I will give you an example. If you go to Senegal now, and you say you want to operate a factory, and you walk to APIX, APIX will show you land within a few hours, but if you come to GIEPA and say you want to open a factory we don’t have the land to show you. The best thing we can do is to write a correspondence to the ministry that may take six months to one year and then what we realize is by the time that investor is frustrated they will move to somewhere,” he said. 

Recognizing the critical importance of land availability in attracting and retaining investors, Senghore revealed GIEPA’s intention to adopt land banking strategies. He stressed that designated industrial zones are essential for sustainable economic development, citing instances where industrial areas in the Gambia have been encroached upon by residential developments, leading to conflicts over noise and pollution.

“ I always give the examples in Lamin, if you go to Lamin ‘Daranka’ there is a soap factory. I heard it was done during Sankung Sillah’s time, but now is flooded by the residential areas, so what will happen is, is a long investment if the government does not give land and secure that area purely for industrial when people move into that area then you have a conflict in term of noise and pollution and other things, but land is our key challenge in term of attracting investment to the destination,” he told the members. 

Echoing Senghore’s concerns, Abdou Touray, Chairman of the GIEPA Board, also underscored the challenges related to energy availability and affordability. He emphasized that high energy costs could deter potential investors, prompting them to seek alternative investment destinations. Saying “ So that is an issue we have to work on.”

Touray further highlighted the issues of access to financing and complex taxation systems, noting that the multiplicity of taxes imposed by both central and local governments complicates the investment landscape and discourages potential investors.

“To some extent, taxation issues is another area which we need to look at is not at the volume of taxes, but the segmentation of taxation from the central government you pay several taxes. You go to the local government, you pay other taxes. These are issues that hamper investment in the country,” he said.

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