Draft Report of the Retreat of the Gambian National Assembly 17-19 November 2017, Banjul, The Gambia

Draft Report of the Retreat of the Gambian National Assembly
17-19 November 2017, Banjul, The Gambia
1.0 Background
1. The leadership of the National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia held a retreat at the Coral Beach Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia from 17-19 November 2017. The Retreat was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
2. The Retreat was held as a follow up to the Retreat of the Cabinet, which was held, at the same venue, from 5-7 May 2017. The Cabinet requested the facilitators to conduct retreats for the National Assembly and Permanent Secretaries and other government and parastatal officials with a view to strengthen and make efficient the delivery of services at all arms of government following the removal of President Yahya Jammeh. The authoritarian rule of President Jammeh was characterized by poor governance, weak economic management, shrunken civil society space, heavy controls over media and public expression, human rights violations, brain drain, hazardous illegal migration, and economic challenges all of which contributed to volatility and massive human insecurity. Hence the Coalition Government of the Gambia started its work with poorly functioning state institutions, a polarized security force, and weak public services all of which are in need of significant upgrades and reforms. The Gambia is also seeking to achieve transitional justice, national reconciliation and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. 3. The dawn of a new government of The Gambia brought with it heightened expectation of the people for good governance, employment, immediate relief of infrastructure bottlenecks and sustainable growth. It is therefore important the Government manages the high and perhaps unachievable expectations in a manner that does not dash the hopes of the people for a new and better Gambia. The people are yearning for a government that will preserve their democratic rights and freedoms, address years of injustice by the Jammeh Government, mismanagement of the public purse, ethno-political differences, and governing with impunity. The new Gambia needs to strengthen trust for the advancement of social cohesion among all fabrics of the Gambian societies.
4. The Retreat, which followed that of President Adama and his cabinet, focussed on developing capacity and establishing structures for collaborative leadership with the
view to managing tensions and conflicts within the coalition government. It also aimed at how the government achieves stability, justice, rule of law, accountability and prosperity for the “new Gambia.”
5. The objectives of the Retreat were:
a) To position Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue as a core value among Gambian Leaders;
b) To create a platform where relationships of trust and communication between key leadership is strengthened to help restore social harmony;
c) To stimulate discussion and analysis of ways to achieve more effective and holistic strategies for inclusive processes that advance governance in the country;
d) To provide opportunity for participants to build a joint commitment to concrete actions that will enhance collaboration;
e) To lay the foundation for an Infrastructure for Peace and Social Cohesion; and
f) To collectively agree on key priorities of the government and refocus on ways forward.
2.0 Agenda of the Retreat
6. The Agenda of the Retreat was:
1. Official Opening of the Retreat.
2. The need for Structural transformation in the context of Agendas 2030 and 2063.
3. Transformational Governance for Optimizing the Democratic Dividend in The Gambia.
4. The National Development Plan.
5. Addressing the problems of the Youth through the Youth Connekt Initiative, for Economic Transformation, Social Cohesion and Stability
6. Community and Skills Building: How do you build enough trust and connection to work together for the new Gambia? What skills do you as Gambian leaders need to strengthen to build the future you want?
7. Nation Building: What concrete innovations do you want to co-create to build the country that you envision?
8. Closing ceremony
3.0 Opening Ceremony
7. Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, welcomed the members of the National Assembly to the retreat. She informed the participants that the retreat was being held at the recommendation of the Cabinet of the Government of The Gambia, at the end of their Collaborative Leadership Retreat in May 2017, which was also facilitated by the UN family. She encouraged participants to be frank and open in their deliberations so as to achieve the goals of the retreat. She urged the legislators to support the Government in tackling the challenges confronting the country so as to attain prosperity for all Gambians.
8. Honourable Mr. James F. Gomez, Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters also addressed the Retreat. He noted the National Assembly has an important duty in assisting the Executive branch of government with its quest of transforming The Gambia with sound and appropriate legislation. He observed that The Gambia has had poor governance and mismanagement of the economy under the past Jammeh administration. He encouraged the participants to enact laws that will support the vision and priorities of The Gambia without fear or favour and within the guiding principles of transparency, accountability and inclusive participatory processes. He ended by calling for deeper dialogue among all political parties in The Gambia to strengthen the democratic principles enshrined in transparent and accountable governance.
9. Honourable Mrs Mariam Jack-Denton, Speaker of the National Assembly gave the opening statement. She reminded the legislators of their responsibilities and that the National Assembly is an institution created to hear the views of all Gambians, through their representatives. She urged legislators to work together for the greater good of The Gambia. She encouraged the legislators to be modest and role models, interacting among themselves with the utmost civility so as to strengthen social cohesion of The Gambia. She indicated that the legislators and the government have a common and shared vision of ensuring that peace and security prevails in the country. He called on the legislators to think globally but act locally for the interest of the nation. She exulted participants to take the meeting seriously so as to achieve goals and objectives of the Retreat as well as serving all Gambians better. She concluded by thanking the legislators for their participation and proceeded to declare the Retreat opened.
4.0 The need for Structural transformation in the context of Agendas 2030 and 2063.
10. Dr. Joseph Atta-Mensah, Principal Policy Adviser, UNECA shared with the participants the economic outlook of Africa. He indicated that Africa is unquestionably on a major ascendancy path, and has seen unprecedented growth despite the global downturn of recent years. Growth in Africa has been fairly stable throughout the economic crisis, hovering around about 5%, more than double the growth rate of the global economy. This has raised hopes of Africa’s renaissance and brought economic opportunities for many Africans. However, economic growth in Africa declined from 3.7% in 2015 to 1.7% in 2016: due to weak global economic conditions, persistent low oil prices and adverse weather conditions. Positive growth
continued to be underpinned by growth in private consumption and investment. Dr. Atta-Mensah also informed the Retreat that Africa’s overall fiscal deficit in 2016 remained unchanged at 5.9 percent of GDP, same as in 2015. While fiscal deficit widened in oil-exporting countries, it slightly improved in oil-importing countries due to low oil prices that asymmetrically affected government revenue in both groups. Current account deficit remained stable in 2016, at 7.0 per cent of GDP. It increased among oil exporting countries due to low oil export earnings, decreased among oil importers and mineral-rich countries benefiting from low global commodity prices.
11. Dr. Atta-Mensah indicated that progress in combating poverty and addressing inequality remains slow. The high level of initial inequality, rapid population growth and delayed demographic transition, and the sectoral composition of growth are some factors responsible for the limited impact of economic growth on poverty reduction. The decline in poverty headcount ratio in Africa from 54.3 per cent in 1990 to 41 per cent in 2013 has been much slower than in other regions. While inequality declined since 1990s, Africa is the second most unequal continent (with Gini coefficient of 0.44) after Latin America (with Gini coefficient of 0.5). Future outlook indicates that Africa’s real GDP growth is expected to increase to 3.2% in 2017 and 3.8% in 2018 led by strong domestic demand, particularly in investment in infrastructure. Economic deceleration in China, subdued performance of the euro area and low commodity prices pose risks for African growth. The effects of Brexit may slow the global economy, with spill over effects into Africa mainly through trade and financial channels.
12. Dr. Atta-Mensah advised that African countries, including the Gambia, to embark on economic transformation. He defined structural transformation as the process of economic development, characterized by a period of rapid per capita growth combined with structural change. In other words, through the implementation of interventionist-policies, economic transformation can be attributed to the process in which a poor, rural-based country becomes a middle-income country with a rising share of industry and services in gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. The transformation is generally characterised by the following patterns. First, during the transformation period, there are significant changes to economic structures. This is because industrialization ignites accelerated increases in the share of manufacturing in the economy and a consequent decline in that of agriculture. Second, the share of the total labour force employed in the agricultural sector falls, while that in other economic sectors rises. Third, agricultural productivity rises as a result of the use of modern agricultural technology. Fourth, the main driver of the country’s economy shifts from rural areas to cities, and therefore degree of urbanization significantly increases. What these patterns mean is that economic transformation leads to the rise in the overall productivity and income per capita of the country as well as the rapid creation of new and higher-paid jobs. Furthermore, with the transformation, the country moves away from the production of primary products and into value-added products. Consequently, the economy becomes integrated in the global supply chains and as a result of its trade with the rest of the world there is continuous learning by doing and up-grading of new technologies and skills sets as well as the expansion of manufacturing capacities. He shared with the participants the experiences of China. China began its transformation
process with agricultural reforms, particularly the land tenure system. It focused on changing the land arrangements for rural household so as to offer them enhanced incentives for increased production of food and consequently higher incomes. It started with a village-based experiment, whose success was quickly replicated around the country. The state also contributed its part by increasing its investments in infrastructure and technology in the rural regions which helped to accelerate food production. The resulting rural surpluses generated by small farms became the foundation for the whole system of national economic development. Consequently, the country witnessed the movement of capital and labour to towns and cities from an increasingly diversified and productive agricultural sector.
13. Dr. Atta-Mensah indicated that Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent. The Agenda seeks to strengthen productive capacities, ensure diversification, pursue value addition and enhance competitiveness with the effect of building resilience to internal and external shocks and of accelerating inclusive growth. The Agenda is based on the Constitutive Act of African Union, Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty, various high level declarations, including the solemn declaration of May 2013, existing and on-going developmental frameworks and programmes (such as Programme of Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA), Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA), Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), etc.). He presented the seven aspirations of the Agenda 2063 as:
i. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
ii. An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and Africa’s renaissance;
iii. An Africa of good governance, with respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;
iv. A peaceful and secure Africa;
v. An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics;
vi. An Africa whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and young people;
vii. Africa as a strong, resilient and influential global player and partner.
14. On the issue of ensuring synchrony between the SDGs and Agenda 2063, Dr. Atta-Mensah emphasized that the Agenda 2030 and its SDGs are focused on the 3 pillars of economic, social and sustainable development. Whereas Agenda 2063 is broader as it also addresses, in addition to the three pillars, political, security, cultural and other considerations of keen interest to African stakeholders. Thus, the Agenda 2063 encapsulates SDGs fully. He also informed the Retreat of an integrated and coherent implementation of Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda in Africa. He highlighted that the integration exercise was needed to ensure a coherent implementation of the two agendas, minimize duplication of efforts, reduce implementation burden on member states and avoid unnecessary competition for resources between the two agendas.
15. Dr. Atta-Mensah concluded with the following recommendations:
i. African countries need to leverage the progress made and continue building robust institutions that improve the business environment, economic governance and macroeconomic management;
ii. A social development strategy must be anchored on long-term planning; on strengthened productive capacities through high-quality, equity-based education and health policies; and complemented by investments in R&D focused on driving industrialization and high-end services;
iii. Countries need to mainstream trade policy into their development strategies and ensure coherence among all national policies, but especially between trade and industrial strategies;
iv. Each country or region should first analyse its best route to structural transformation, with a gradual approach to industrialization and upgrading along value chains is recommended; and
v. Africa needs to develop its own transformation agenda. The process needs to be owned by Africans and not be driven by donors. Going forward it is within the grasp of Africa to transform itself into a middle-income continent within a generation. This will require a development agenda whose implementation is inclusive and is aimed at uplifting majority of the citizenry from poverty as well as grows the middle class.
16. In concluding Dr. Atta-Mensah remarked that it is very important for all Africans to note that Africa has to be developed by Africans. “Handouts,” glorified as aid/grants, alone will not change the lives of the many poor citizens of the continent. Ultimately, Africans are totally responsible for the development of the continent and therefore should shoulder the burden of financing its development, no matter how long it takes and how painful it may be.
5.0 Transformational Governance for Optimizing the Democratic Dividend in The Gambia
17. Dr. Lamin Momodou Manneh, Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre, informed the Retreat that for the Gambia to build an inclusive and sustainable economy it has to fully embrace good governance. This is because governance is a key factor in the sustainable Development and Stability of Countries. Moreover, in the Post-2015 and AU vision 2063 era, transformational modes/approaches to development are imperative for African countries, if the continent is to achieve the seven aspirations set out in the continental agenda 2063: “a prosperous and integrated Africa based on good governance inclusive growth and sustainable development and an influential global player and partner. He therefore noted that sustaining Transformation and Democratic Governance will be key to optimizing the Democratic Dividend in the post- 2016 Election Era in the Gambia.
18. Dr. Manneh explained that beyond the basic definition of democratic Governance, its actual practice differs from one context to another, sometimes in apparent radical ways. Democracies come in various shades depending on the historic, political ideological, cultural, economic or social contexts and experiences that shape the ways in which the rule of people and by people “is organized.” He reminded the Retreat that despite the different definitions and practices of democracy, certain key strands remain the same in genuine democracies in different contexts: (i) participation of the majority of people in electing their leaders through transparent and fair electoral processes; (ii) responsive and accountable leaderships; (iii) well-functioning parliaments; (iv) effective separation of powers; (v) existence of civil liberties, freedom of expression and association; (vi) maintenance of rule of law; (vii) well-functioning and accountable public administration systems; (viii) responsive and efficient local administration systems; (ix) guaranteeing of national and personal security; effective institutions and mechanisms for controlling corruption; maintenance of high levels of service delivery; and nurturing institutions for peaceful change of power.
19. Dr. Manneh called on the legislators to imbue the principles of democratic governance in their work as it fosters peace and stability of a nation and enable peaceful change of Power. The Gambia needs to nurture responsive leadership and allows for the emergence of well-functioning parliaments as well as effective separation of powers and curb the emergence of dictatorships. He emphasized that democratic governance also ensures broad-based and sustainable development programmes as well as well-functioning public and local administration systems.
20. Dr. Manneh recommended that The Gambia embark on transformational governance. He defined transformational governance as process of profound and radical change that orients organizations in a new direction. The heart of all transformational changes depend on leaders who are visionary, inspiring, daring, risk-Takers and thoughtful. Furthermore, transformational leadership can be found at all levels of organizations, communities and societies and countries. It has to be emphasized that transformational governance entails all the attributes of normal democratic governance processes. However, it is broader and aims at triggering fundamental changes in the different sections of societies and communities. Given the momentous transition from dictatorship and incompetent rule of President Jammeh, Dr. Manneh indicated that The Gambia is better positioned to embark on transformational governance so as to attain long-term sustainable development. He concluded with the call for the exercising of transformational leadership at all levels of the Gambian society, including the parliament, civil services and non-state actors.
21. The two presentations by Dr. Atta-Mensah and Dr. Manneh were followed by the discussions among participants. The discussions centred around the following:
i. What economic lessons and experiences can be learnt by The Gambia from other countries and how can The Gambia reap the demographic dividends.
ii. The Gambian economy needs to fully diversify away from exports of groundnut and tourism. Sound infrastructure, including energy, telecommunication, and ICTs, are needed to power the transformation.
iii. Parliament has responsibility in ensuring that the “New Gambia” succeeds. This means that parliament, through the passage of appropriate bills, should fully support the Government with its programmes of socio-economic development.
iv. The youth must be sensitized and mobilized to participate in the economy, particularly agro-business. In this regard, access to finance for all must be improved and strengthened to support the advancement of the economy
v. Attitudes and mentality needs to change and parliament has a very important role to play.
vi. It is very important that women’s empowerment be at the heart of any economic transformation.
vii. Need to strengthen the institutions, particularly the civil service, to provide the appropriate support to all arms of government
viii. Adequate resources must be made available for the training of new parliamentarians.
ix. African democracy is not working because African leaders are intolerant and most often don’t want to accept results of elections.
x. The need for clear and effective separation of powers in The Gambia so as to achieve good governance and true democracy
xi. Change in The Gambia begins with the National Assembly. Members of the Assembly need to be exemplary in the performance of their duties.
xii. More women must be encouraged to become parliamentarians. In this regards, there is a need for the Assembly to have targets for women participation in the National Assembly.
6.0 Presentation of the Draft National Development Plan 2018 – 2021
22. Mr. Lamin Camara, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, gave introductory remarks prior to the presentation of the National Development Plan. He indicated that a review of the previous strategy, Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), showed that the level of poverty reduction, increase in employment and raising per capita income of Gambians planned were not attained by 2015. He attributed the reasons of the poor performance to: (i) drought in 2011 that held back better performance during the PAGE period; and, (ii) overoptimistic projections of annual rates under PAGE. There were also serious slippages emanating from widening budget and current account deficits as well as inadequate investments in improving and modernizing infrastructure, particularly road
transport, energy (rural electrification) and information and communications technology.
23. Mr. Camara reported the findings of the review that shows that access and quality social services under Pillar 3 of PAGE, consisting of education, health, water, and sanitation has improved significantly. Universal access to primary education and gender parity (1:1) in primary and secondary schools under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are likely to have been achieved. Secondary education, seen as a basis for employment under PAGE, is making satisfactory progress. However, quality must be improved by ensuring that teachers are qualified, a text book to pupil ratio of 1:1 is reached, among others. Access to health services and doctors have also improved, registering significant gains in reducing child and maternal mortality.
24. Mr. Camara noted that the institutional arrangements proposed by PAGE were hardly implemented and planning units which are instrumental at the sector level barely have the human and material resources to perform. In addition, there was no effective communication strategy. Overall, he indicated that PAGE was found to be highly relevant to stakeholders despite that effectiveness in achieving development results and consolidating macroeconomic management was low. He concluded by informing the Retreat that new the National Development Plan (NDP) was prepared based on extensive consultations across districts and constituencies. Twelve Technical Working Groups were established, consisting of Government officials, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Development Partners. The NDP also took account of the momentous changes the country had gone through, the vision of the new government and the expectations of the country’s citizens. The NDP was also informed by the policy orientation of the Compact of the Cabinet Retreat held 5 – 7 May, 2017 as well as the Coalition manifesto and other key documents. He concluded that the NDP is near finalization and adoption by the Government. The Ministry is planning to prepare a popular version of the NDP as well as a resource mobilization strategy. The Ministry also plan to embark on a sensitization campaign.
25. Dr. Tijan Jallow, a consultant of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, made a presentation on the NDP. He noted that the preparation of the NDP was influenced by exogenous and endogenous factors. The endogenous factors included political developments in The Gambia such as the 22 years of dictatorship and ushering in a new democratic dispensation and the very high expectations of rapid and tangible change by the population, especially the youth. The economic factors in The Gambia, which were considered as part of the endogenous factors, included: (i) an urgent balance of payments need arising from several shocks generating losses equivalent to 3% of GDP; (ii) economic mismanagement by the previous regime causing losses estimated at 4% of GDP annually from 2014; (iii) an elevated public debt estimated at 120% of GDP and therefore a debt servicing crowding out government investments in health, education, agriculture, etc.; and (iv) integrated Household Survey of The Gambia (2015/16) shows that poverty has remained flat at 48% between 2010 and 2015 – 60% of Gambia’s poor reside in the rural areas which hold only 45% of the
population. The exogenous factors considered in preparing the NDP included the global political, economic and security situation as well as the internationally and regionally agreed commitments, including the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
26. Dr. Jallow indicated that the guiding vision of the NDP is to transform the Gambia into a country where:
i. All citizens enjoy the benefits of the highest standards of governance, are equal before the law, and freedom of expression is fully guaranteed;
ii. The government is fully accountable to its citizens and the constitutional provision on separation of powers is fully respected;
iii. There is social cohesion and harmony among communities;
iv. Citizens enjoy a high standard of living and access to health, education, food, quality basic services and housing is guaranteed to allow citizens to lead decent and dignified lives;
v. Women and youth realize their full potential;
vi. A caring and nurturing environment exists for children, persons with disability and the elderly;
vii. An enabling environment is in place for the private sector to thrive and create decent jobs, especially for the young;
viii. Our natural endowments and their resilience create lasting solutions to poverty;
ix. Modern science, innovation and technology are harnessed to spur people-oriented development; and
x. There is good neighbourliness with all countries based on our cherished values of democracy and mutual tolerance.
27. Dr. Jallow observed that the policy implication of the current economic outlook of The Gambia are that:
a. A rapidly urbanizing country requiring an integrated approach to urban planning and management.
b. An agriculture-led rural development agenda has become an urgent necessity to address rural poverty – complimented by development of rural towns as “growth poles” with adequate investment in infrastructure and incentives to attract the private sector, combined with skills building for rural youths.
c. A growing gap in access to basic services between urban and rural Gambia is reflective of failures in local governance and accountability – regional approach to development.
d. The importance of evidence and data to inform development policy and planning
28. Based on the vision and the policy implications of outlook of The Gambia, Dr, Jallow told the Retreat that the NDP focuses on eight Strategic Priorities:
1. Restoring good governance, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and empowering citizens through decentralization and local governance
2. Stabilizing our economy, stimulating growth, and transforming the economy
3. Modernizing our agriculture and fisheries for sustained economic growth, food and nutritional security and poverty reduction
4. Investing in our people through improved education and health services, and building a caring society
5. Building our infrastructure and restoring energy services to power our economy
6. Promoting an inclusive and culture-centered tourism for sustainable growth
7. Reaping the demographic dividend through an empowered youth
8. Making the private sector the engine of growth, transformation, and job creation
29. It has to be mentioned that accompanying each of the priorities are goals, expected results, targets and indicators. For the success of the NDP, it is important for the creation of an enabling environment characterized by these factors:
i. A public sector that is efficient and responsive to the citizenry.
ii. Empowering the Gambian Woman to realize her full potential.
iii. Promoting environmental sustainability, climate resilient communities and appropriate land use.
iv. Making The Gambia a Digital Nation and creating a modern information society.
v. A civil society that is engaged and is a valued partner in national development.
vi. Strengthening evidence-based policy, planning and decision-making.
30. The NDP also has accountability framework for implementation, which calls for prioritization and sequencing of actions. The framework of the NDP also have provisions for addressing regional disparities and strengthening urban planning. The framework aims at the following:
a. A regionalized approach to development to close the gap between rural and urban Gambia.
b. Develop rural towns as growth poles with forward and backward linkages to agriculture.
c. Private sector development, light manufacturing and value addition activities will be promoted with the appropriate incentives through tax breaks.
d. Capacities of the LGAs for spatial planning, programme design and management, as well as finance and administration will be significantly strengthened.
e. All sector plans will henceforth be required to undertake situational analysis using a regional lens.
f. A new agenda on integrated urban planning and development to address rapid urbanization, fragmentation in service delivery, and the lack thereof, and ensure that urbanization is an asset for economic transformation.
31. Dr. Jallow emphasized that policy and oversight and coordination for the NDP will be done at various levels including; the National Assembly, Cabinet, Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee, Multi-Stakeholder National Coordinating Committee, Regional Governor’s Forum and A Government-Development Partners Forum. Dr. Jallow called for the strengthening of links between the NDP and the various sector plans ensuring a tighter alignment between existing or new sector plans with the NDP. He emphasized that there is a need for The Gambia to strengthen regional integration and develop good relation with its neighbours, through investments in transport, energy, fisheries, trade and security cooperation so ensure prosperity and stability.
32. Dr. Jallow concluded by noting that the NDP has a monitoring and evaluation framework for the cabinet, government and all stakeholders to measure progress made in the implementation and achievements of the goals of the NDP. It also calls for Government and Citizens engagement based on the following guidelines:
i. All public institutions will be required to develop and publish Service Charters.
ii. Public campaigns on key policy issues and messages to mobilize public action.
iii. Forums for citizens’ engagements will be set up to create opportunities for citizens to interphase with public officials at all levels – town and village hall meetings, dialogue forums, panel discussions, focus group discussions and other mechanisms such as meet the people tours;
iv. Digital platforms to strengthen engagement – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.).
v. “Feedback Unit” whose purpose would be to ensure a more active and engaged public.
vi. A robust social media policy will be developed based on international best practices and benchmarking; and
vii. Create a new mind-set among public officials such that they have citizen-centric mind-set and are ready and willing to respond positively to public concerns.
viii. The Ministry of Communication and Information will play a crucial and central role to establish citizen-government engagement platforms.
33. The discussions following the presentations centred around:
i. Strong need for the NDP to address endemic poverty and inequality in the Gambia. Sound economic policies must be put in place to support measures geared towards eradication of poverty and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
ii. Parliament should have been part of the consultative processes leading to the preparation of the NDP. Some participants appreciated the briefing on the NDP at the Retreat but noted it was first time they are hearing of it.
iii. The new government must not be over reliant on donor support for the implementation of the NDP. The Gambia must mobilize domestic resources to support its developmental objectives. The Gambia should develop and deepen its capital markets to support the implementation of the NDP.
iv. Increased investments must be geared towards agriculture with a view to making The Gambia food secure. Modernization of agricultural practices must be undertaken as well value addition to agricultural products so as to eradicate poverty, guarantee food security and boost employment. Furthermore, the private sector must be encouraged to participate in modernized agriculture.
v. The government needs to increase its investments in the promotion of sound infrastructure, particularly road transport networks, energy and the development of waterway and the construction of inland ports. Such efforts will support trade facilitation and reduce the cost of doing business in The Gambia,
vi. The Gambia should mainstream the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 into the NDP.
vii. The government should put more resources into Gender equality and women empowerment. The government should increase its efforts and investments in improving women’s and girls’ access to education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition, an enabling environment is needed for the promotion of women-entrepreneurship in The Gambia.
7.0 Addressing the problems of the Youth through the Youth Connekt Initiative, for Economic Transformation, Social Cohesion and Stability
34. Dr. Lamin Momodou Lamin made a presentation on an initiative to address youth employment. He noted that there is broad consensus that the challenges of adequate productive job creation especially for the rapidly increasing youth labour force in most parts of the world has emerged as a major complex development policy of our times. Furthermore, over the past couple of decades, the unemployment and underemployment complexities have not been unique to only the developing parts of the world, particularly Africa. At the height of the financial crisis, the unemployment rates in the US, increased sharply to close to 10% from some of their lowest rates of 4 % at the peak of President Bill Clinton’s regime. The average jobless rates exceeded 10% in the EU countries as well as in emerging Asian countries during the same period. He indicated that in countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece, jobless rates among the youth reached 30% and have persisted over prolonged periods of time. He urged governments to tackle the high and persistent levels of unemployment as they constitute significant threats to social and political stability in all countries. For the developing countries, the more predominant manifestation of unemployment is underemployment, which ranges between 70-80% in several African countries with the bulk being the youth.
35. Dr. Manneh noted that the four hypothesis for the persistent unemployment are: (i) the prolonged dominance of neo-classical (laissez-faire) paradigm, which suggest that labour markets are efficient if left on their own. However, there are market failures that impede the efficiency of markets; (ii) policy measures and programmes deployed have not matched the multidimensional nature and complexities of the problems of unemployment in modern world; (iii) the disruptive impact of rapid technological changes on labour absorption have not been well managed; and (iv) persistence of jobless growth. To address the persistent unemployment in The Gambia he called for more ambitious and proactive programmes for productive and decent employment generation with a particular on the youth. In addition, there should a more holistic and innovative solutions, given that unemployment and underemployment have transformed into more multifaceted problems than before. Better management of disruptive effects of technological changes on labour absorption must be adhered to as well as the promotion of more job-rich growth patterns and continuous evaluation of policies and their impacts.
36. Dr. Manneh shared the experience of Rwanda in addressing youth employment, which has been branded as YouthConnekt. The YouthConnekt is an initiative of the Government of Rwanda to create meaningful jobs with focus on ICT and innovation.
It also focuses on a youth and job-friendly regulatory and policy environment, fostering youth leadership and entrepreneurial mind-set as well as comprehensively addressing the knowledge, skills-gaps and barriers preventing youth from successfully entering the labour market. The five key goals of the initiative are: (i) create 10 million jobs; (ii) empower 25 million young leaders; (iii) nurture 1 million young leaders; (iv) connect 100 million young Africans and (iv) close the gender gap.
37. Dr. Manneh mentioned that UNDP recruited an experienced international consultancy firm to lead the conceptualization and development of the YouthConnekt Africa Hub (including a flagship Programme) and YouthConnekt Africa Fund; With the support and guidance of the Government of Rwanda and UNDP, the firm will recommend a sustainable and scalable organizational YouthConnekt Africa Hub and Fund setup as well as design a flagship YouthConnekt Africa Programme with the aim to launch the Hub and Fund by early 2018. The firm will recruit 3 dedicated YouthConnekt Africa hub staff to ensure that when the YouthConnekt Africa Hub and Fund are launched (end 2017), implementation of the flagship programme begins immediately. UNDP is also developing a Regional Strategic Framework for Youth Social and Economic Empowerment in Africa that will embed the YouthConnekt Africa flagship programme. UNDP country offices have also been asked to fill a survey to support the mapping of existing initiatives on Youth economic and social empowerment across Africa.
38. Dr. Manneh concluded with suggestions on how YouthConnekt could address economic transformation and youth empowerment in The Gambia. He called for the following measures to be taken by the government:
i. Mapping the political and regulatory framework to act on the structural barriers.
ii. Invest in small agribusiness and manufacturing facilitating the introduction of ICT and new technologies.
iii. Promote jobs creation and small enterprises development by introducing tailored training and mentorship schemes.
iv. Invest in women literacy, numeracy and business development skills to close the gender gap.
v. Boost social cohesion to prevent migratory flows.
vi. Mapping of key-stakeholders in the private sector and bringing them on board.
39. The participants commended Dr. Manneh for the sharing of the Rwandan experience and called on the Government of The Gambia to study the Rwandan experience with a view to undertake a similar initiative for The Gambia.
8.0 Community and Skills Building: How do you build enough trust and connection to work together for the new Gambia? What skills do you as Gambian leaders need to strengthen to build the future you want?
40. Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo, Director, UNDP regional cluster for Governance and Peace Building in Africa and Ms. Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) of the UNDP Office in the Gambia were the facilitators of this session. They stressed that the purpose of the session was to support political, social and government leaders in The Gambia who understand and practice collaborative leadership through dialogue for improved governance and building sustained peace and justice for The Gambia. They outlined the objectives of Collaborative Leadership are:
i. To position Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue as a core value among Gambian leaders
ii. To create a platform where relationships of trust and communication between the leadership is strengthened to help restore social harmony
iii. To stimulate discussion and analysis of ways to achieve more effective and holistic strategies for inclusive processes that advance governance in the country
iv. To provide opportunity for participants to build a joint commitment to concrete actions that will enhance collaboration
v. To lay the foundations for an infrastructure for peace
vi. To collectively agree on key priorities of the government and refocus on the ways forward
41. Dr. Ojielo and Ms. Adda-Dontoh noted their expectations are that at the end of the Retreat participants will model a collaborative approach in the manner they deal with national and institutional issues. This collaborative approach will be the style of choice of leaders in The Gambia especially at the national level. As a result of trust and relationships built during the workshops, The Gambia will see a cadre of leaders who rise above partisan politics in the pursuit of growth and prosperity in the Nation. It also expected that spaces for dialogue and national conversations on contested issues will flourish as well as strong bond among members of Parliament with increased commitment to a united country. They emphasized that the essence of collaborative leadership is for the participants to embrace a process in which people with different views and perspectives come together to explore positions, interests and needs, and discuss issues openly and supportively in an attempt to find ways of helping each other solve a larger problem or achieve broader goals. They then invited the participants to connect to their inner motivations, directions and values as well as reflect on shared human values. Participants were encouraged to discover and re-affirm a common sense of purpose as well as begin the process of sharing the deeper issues among themselves.
42. The facilitators invited the Parliamentarians to have an open and frank discussion on the type of leadership they would like to see in The Gambia. A summary of the interventions are:
a. Parliamentarians must strive for the best for The Gambia. Hence they must place the interest of The Gambia above their own. In this regard, the Parliamentarians should have a good command of the rule of law so as to ensure good governance in The Gambia.
b. Gambian members of Parliament should put differences aside and work for the greater good of The Gambia.
c. Need for greater collaboration among arms of government while ensuring clear separation of power.
d. Parliament should be a parliament of the people and not parliament of parties and therefore the need for collaborative engagement among members of the National Assembly.
e. Parliament should find the “Mandela” in themselves for the greater good of the nation.
f. Gambians must find solutions to their challenges and not over rely on external assistance.
g. Need for clarity on how long the Coalition Government of The Gambia will be in power. This clarity is being sought because the coalition agreement was for 3 years while the constitution stipulates that the term for a government is 5 years.
h. Need for parliamentarians to have trust among themselves so that they can earn the trust of the Gambian people.
i. Important to educate the public that there is honour, sacrifice and integrity in politics.
j. Important that the Coalition Agreement and the draft memorandum of agreement among political parties are made public so that Gambians will have full knowledge.
k. Strong need for the voice of the people in decision making. Hence the freedom of the press is of utmost importance for the preservation of the democracy and rights in The Gambia.
l. The National Assembly should promote the empowerment of women and girls.
m. Issues in parliament must be debated in an open and frank manner and must not be based on ethnic-based politics.
n. Probity and accountability must be upheld at all levels of leadership in The Gambia. In this regard, the National Assembly should set high standards and work hard to achieve them.
o. Youth employment must be promoted in parliament.
9.0 Nation Building: What concrete innovations do you want to co-create to build the country that you envision
43. Dr. Ojielo and Ms. Adda-Dontoh began this session by asking the participants to familiarise themselves with the following pledge made by cabinet in their May retreat and to commit to a better leadership to The Gambia:
i. Accelerate the socio-economic development of The Gambia by prioritizing the following:
ii. Accelerate economic revival and transformation underpinned by:
a. strong economic management;
b. robust institutional development;
c. reinforce the enabling environment for the private sector, and domestic and foreign investment;
d. expanding the industrial sector, trade and regional integration;
e. redynamize the tourism and fisheries sectors; and
f. ensure effective land use planning and management.
g. Promote investments in infrastructure and energy;
h. Modernize and revitalize the agricultural sector and agribusiness, with the aim of achieving food security and rural development;
i. Promote youth development and employment;
j. Ensure the safety and security of all Gambians;
k. Provide health care and education systems.
l. Mobilize domestic and external resources to support development efforts.
m. Strengthen citizens’ engagement in governance and development, with attention to gender equality and empowerment of women and youth;
n. Enhance rule of law and justice, and establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to promote social cohesion and durable peace; and
o. End The Gambia’s isolation and strengthen its relationships with other countries in the sub-region, the continent and the rest of the world.
44. The facilitators also encouraged the participants to pursue effective and sustainable management of conflicts. This will require the Gambia to embark on a successful path towards democratization. The constitution of the nation might have to be revised and must be supported by an effective bargaining power and effective conflict resolution capacities and mechanisms. The Gambia needs to have the ability and capacity to
anticipate problems and an institutional or political framework for addressing conflicts, as well as the ability to mobilize finances and personnel and the capacity to coordinate among domestic and external actors. They called on the participants to have an open mind, be willing to welcome new ideas without cynicism and to see things with fresh eyes. They should also have an open heart so as to avoid being judgmental. It is very important they conquer their fears, be willing to take risk, let go of the old, and embrace the future.
45. Ms Adda-Dontoh and Dr Ojielo encouraged them to be open to effective dialogue. They defined dialogue as a voluntary and safe process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn. This change happens because people develop joint understanding, shift their relationships and commit to taking joint action. This can happen with or without the help of a third-party facilitator. To buttress their point by sharing with the Retreat a quote from William Isaac who suggest that “Dialogue….is a conversation with a centre, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channelling it toward something that has never been created before.” The facilitators impressed on the Retreat that dialogue is not only about the physical act of talking. It is about minds and relationships unfolding so that people can find real freedom through collaboration.
46. After they exchanged views, the participants were divided into two groups with each group asked to come out with what they thought were the key priorities for The Gambia. The priorities of the groups:
The priorities of Group1
1. Revise Constitution to address the gaps in governance
2. United Front to tackle the challenges of The Gambia
3. Effective Communication
4. Industrialization
5. Modernized agriculture
6. Improved Infrastructure
7. Promote local investors
8. Promote Energy Supply
9. Reduce taxes to support business
10. Address governance and strengthen institutions
11. Strengthen collaboration among political leaders
12. Strengthen the Private
The priorities of Group2
1. Respect for justice, human rights and rule of law
2. Accountability and transparency
3. Political awareness
4. Eradicating ethnic bias
5. Promote gender parity
6. Sensitization, cooperation and collaboration to foster unity
7. Need for constitutional reforms
8. Empowerment of women
9. Empowerment of traditional leaders
10. Promote open and fair press freedom
47. At the end the Parliamentarians agreed to capture their priorities in a “Social Compact with Gambians” which read was out at the end of the Retreat.
9.0 Closing Ceremony
48. At the end of the Retreat the Parliamentarians agreed and adopted a “Compact on an Effective and Efficient National Assembly in the Service of the people of the New Gambia.” The full text is attached as Annex 1.
49. In her closing remarks of the Retreat, Ms. Ade Lekoetje, UN Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for The Gambia thanked the leadership of the National Assembly for their effective participation in the Retreat. She urged the National Assembly to implement the Compact and encouraged them to work together for the greater good of The Gambia. She concluded that the UN family remains committed in supporting The Gambia to achieve its goals.
50. On behalf of the Speaker of the National Assembly, a Member of the National Assembly expressed the Assembly’s appreciation to the UNDP, UNOWAS and UNECA for facilitating the Retreat. He pledged that the Assembly is fully committed to the implementation of the Compact as well as work hard for the betterment of all Gambians. He then brought the retreat to a close.
Annex 1
1. We the Leaders of the National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia held a retreat at the Coral Beach Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia from 17-19 November 2017. The objectives of the retreat were:
g) To position Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue as a core value among Gambian Legislators;
h) To create a platform where relationships of trust and communication among members of the National Assembly is strengthened for the service of Gambians;
i) To stimulate discussion and analysis of ways to achieve more effective and holistic strategies for inclusive processes that advance the provision of sound and just laws for The Gambia as well as preserve good governance;
j) To provide opportunity for participants to build a joint commitment to concrete actions that will enhance collaboration; and
k) To collectively agree on key priorities of the National Assembly and refocus on ways forward.
2. Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, welcomed and commended us for our participation in the retreat. She informed us that the retreat was being held at the recommendation of the Cabinet of the Government of The Gambia at the end of their Collaborative Leadership Retreat in May 2017, which was also facilitated by the UN family. She encouraged us to be frank and open in our deliberations so as to achieve the goals of the retreat.
3. We were addressed by Honourable Mr. James F. Gomez, Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters who noted the importance of the legislative
arm of Government, the National Assembly, in the transformation of The Gambia. He encouraged us to enact laws that will support the vision and priorities of The Gambia without fear or favour and within the guiding principles of transparency, accountability and inclusive participatory processes.
4. We were also addressed by Honourable Mrs Mariam Jack-Denton, Speaker of the National Assembly, who reminded us of our responsibilities and that the National Assembly is an institution created to hear the views of all Gambians, through their representatives. She urged us to work together for the greater good of The Gambia.
5. We received presentations from experts on various economic issues including: The need for Structural transformation in the context of Agendas 2030 and 2063; Transformational Governance for Optimizing the Democratic Dividend in The Gambia; The National Development Plan; and addressing the problems of the Youth through the Youth Connekt Initiative, for Economic Transformation, Social Cohesion and Stability. These afforded us the opportunity to have greater insights into the economy of The Gambia and the urgency for our government to pursue sound policies that will advance our economy, adding value to our raw materials and providing employment to our youth.
6. We also undertook a number of leadership and team-building exercises, which allowed us to share experiences, identify the priorities of the people of The Gambia and how we can serve them better. Through these exercises, we renewed our determination and commitment to place the good of The Gambia above our individual parochial interests with a view to achieving the shared vision of the people, while preserving the cardinal tenets of democracy and the rule of law.
7. We are individually and collectively committed that the work of the National Assembly will be guided strictly by the Constitution and the laws of The Gambia.
8. We pledge to perform our duties guided by the following principles:
i. Promotion of harmonious relations between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial arms of Government while preserving the separation of powers;
ii. Guarantee the freedom of the Press;
iii. Promotion of Democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
iv. Promotion of the rights of minorities, including the persons with disability;
v. Promotion of the rights of women and girls, as well as their economic empowerment;
vi. Respect and tolerance for all voices, regardless of religion and ethnicity;
vii. Work for the interest of all Gambians, regardless of party affiliation;
viii. Honesty, Integrity, Frankness and Trust in the discharge of duties;
ix. Respect for international laws to which The Gambia is a signatory; and
x. Provide support to all Political Parties
9. We pledge to accelerate the work of the National Assembly by undertaking the following:
a. Assist the Executive arm of Government in its vision of accelerating the socio-economic development of The Gambia by passing bills to support the transformation of the economy through:
i. Approval of the National Development Plan;
ii. Promotion of industrialization and tapping into the global value chains through trade and regional integration;
iii. Investments in Agriculture
iv. Reform of the land tenure systems, effective land use, planning and management;
v. Promotion of sound infrastructure development, with emphasis on rural infrastructure;
vi. Promotion of and deepening the participation of the domestic private sector in economic development as well as foreign investment;
vii. Strengthening tourism and fisheries sectors;
viii. Deepening access to finance to support the productive sectors of the economy;
ix. Economic empowerment of women; and
x. Sound management of the economy.
b. Strengthen Collaborative leadership and political dialogue among political leaders in the National Assembly with the view to ensuring that bills passed, are to the benefit of all Gambians;
c. Promote social cohesion;
d. Push for laws that establish Gender Parity Targets in all government institutions;
e. Encourage the Government to embark on the reform of the Constitution so as to address issues of governance and ensure autonomy of institutions;
f. Engage traditional leaders and civil society to ensure that all Gambians, including the diaspora are involved in the political processes;
g. Embark on sensitization of the people to educate them about their civic rights and responsibilities;
h. Promote structural reforms of the institutions including law, economic and sectoral reforms;
i. Promote equity and the allocation of resources;
j. Engage political leaders on the strengthening and deepening of the Coalition Government.
10. We identified the following as risks to the implementation of the Compact:
i. Lack of trust among politicians;
ii. Deadlock, fragmentation among National Assembly Members (NAMs);
iii. Slowdown of implementation of government projects leading to disillusionment;
iv. Increasing levels of corruption;
11. We commit to the implementation of this Compact, and will establish a monitoring and evaluation framework to track its progress.
12. We thank the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for sponsoring this Collaborative Leadership Retreat.
Done in Banjul, The Gambia, on 19th November, 2017
Annex II
List of Participants
The Gambia National Assembly
Hon. Mariam Jack Denton
Hon. Momodou L.K. Sanneh
Deputy Speaker
Hon. Sidia S Jatta
Hon. Alhaji Sankung Jammeh
Hon. Madi M.K. Ceesay
Hon. Mahtar M Jeng
Hon. Kaddy Camara
Hon. Ya Kumba Jaiteh
Hon. Billay G. Tunkara
Hon. Ndey Yassin Secka
Hon. Suwaibou Touray
Hon Ousman Touray
Hon. Saikouba Jarjue
Hon. Yaya Gassama
Hon. Sulayman Saho
Hon. Alhaji Drammeh
Daniel Cardos
Deputy Clerk
Isatou S Conteh
PA to the Speaker
Sainey Conteh
Jainaba Trawally
Fatou Sallah
Binta Daffeh
Isatou Sonko
Mam Boye
United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS) 1. Ms. Blanche Muna Hyde, Political Affairs Officer
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
1. Mr. Lamin Manneh, Director, Regional Service Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
2. Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, Resident Co-ordinator and Resident Representative for The Gambia
3. Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo, Director, UNDP Regional Custer for Governance and Peace Building in Africa
4. Ms. Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, Peace and Development Advisor, The Gambia
5. Mr.Thomas Njuiri Kimaru, Office of the Resident Coordinator, The Gambia
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) 1. Dr. Joseph Atta-Mensah, Principal Policy Adviser

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