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The Covid 19 pandemic and its resultant total shutdown of the tourism industry in The Gambia like other destinations worldwide continues to compound the menace of unemployment in The Gambia and the Tourism Industry is hardest hit as employees and small scale enterprise owners risked loss of jobs, income and livelihoods.

Given the grave negative impact highlighted in a Rapid Response Assessment conducted by Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) in collaboration with Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) through United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)’s support, UNDP agreed to support government to extend assistance in the form of a one off cash transfer to all those who participated as respondents in the said Rapid Response Assessment. The Participants were divided into 2 groups; the first comprised individuals working in the informal sector of the tourism industry and the second, employees laid off from tourism institutions.

Realizing the urgent need to provide assistance to the hard-hit tourism industry workers it was agreed, after protracted discussions that a one-off cash transfer of $50 will be made to all the identified beneficiaries who could be reached within the prescribed time and who could come up with valid Africell mobile numbers. Although the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) upon verification of the list of identified beneficiaries in the Rapid Response Assessment Report held the view that a good number of Tourism industry workers were left out in the assessment that should be considered. But further discussions between UNDP and GBoS did not change the situation.

Africell, the agency identified by UNDP to make the cash transfers through AfriMoney was to do so for beneficiaries with phone numbers initially totaling 6572 beneficiaries, but according to an Africell number verification process only 6427 numbers were useable when they were ready to kick start the transfer exercise. Upon the Hon Ministers entreaty, a few extra days were granted to try and get individual/correct telephone numbers for the beneficiaries whose numbers had been identified as problematic. Five working days were allowed for this process, thereafter, a final list of 6455 beneficiaries was submitted and forwarded to Africell for disbursement of a one-off cash transfer through Afri-Money. The efforts of the staff of GTBoard, Gambia Hotel Association(GHA) and GBOS to reach out to all those who participated in the assessment must be mentioned and acknowledged. Unfortunately, it was not possible to reach some of the participants to get their phone numbers within the prescribed timelines and they will therefore not be able to benefit from the one-off cash transfer.

The sum of D16,837,867.50 (sixteen million eight hundred and thirty seven thousand, eight hundred and sixty seven dalasis and fifty bututs) was remitted by UNDP directly to Africell’s account on the 28th August 2020 and the list of beneficiaries sent to the latter for necessary action. The cash transfer will commence within the next few days and the beneficiaries referred to above will receive the one-off payment of $50.This operation is a Gambia Government owned endeavour and the Government of The Gambia is extremely grateful to UNDP for providing this support through an MOU with Africell.
• Africell will call all the listed beneficiaries for the necessary details concerning their payment.
• Those without Africell numbers will be provided with an Africell sim card to enable them to receive the transfer through Afri-Money.
• A minimum fee(not exceeding one hundred dalasi) will be deducted as a service charge from each beneficiary when receiving the cash from the agent.

There is no condition attached to the use of the funds. It belongs to the beneficiary and can be used to address any personal needs.

Mrs. Cordu L. Jabang- Senghore

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