Right now, Europe is in economic crisis and the US is also struggling on that side. The Arab world, on the other hand, is not stable politically. Therefore, all signs show that Africa could be the next destination for investment. What is your opinion about this situation and how do you see Gambia within the region?
The Gambia is one of the most stable countries within the region; it is peaceful and at the same time the environment is friendly. There is lot of opportunities here. The only thing hindering the development which we are working on is electricity. If the electricity is stable, there will be a lot of investors coming in. Presently there are many people who would come in and after few months of investment would wrap up and go because they could not rely on generator to run their business.
Secondly, the other thing hindering our development is the port. The seaport is a major problem. Some years ago, there used to be a lot of transshipment of cargo going to Cassamance (southern Senegal) and some parts of Mali (a landlocked country) through the Gambia port because it is shorter to access these places through The Gambia than through Senegal. Because of the congestion at the port, due to increase in volumes, whenever cargoes arrive, traders would encounter so much delay in moving their containers out and would also incur a lot of difficulties and cost like port rent, demurrage from shipping lines etc… which is driving traders.
We know the port is right now going through tremendous changes in order to improve its competitiveness in the sub-region. How do you think these changes will affect your operations?
We are partners with the port because in many countries that is our speciality, especially in Africa. So far I can tell you we have port concession in more than 19 countries. We are looking into opportunities to partner with the port to have a state-of-the-art facility, with a reasonable tariff to make the port the cheapest in the sub-region which can attract more people to invest in the country.
Apart from the port authority, do you have other partners in the country or another country?
Yes, we are partnering with Brussels Airlines and we have sent a proposal to the Gambia International Airlines to partner with them, because we know through sea and air freight that develop countries.
Are you looking for more partners?
What does your partnership with Brussels airlines entail?
With effect from today, we will be handling their cargo and ground sales. We are their GSA, the Ground Sales Agency.
How long does the contract last?
It can be forever; it is a long-term contract renewable annually.
Who are your main clients?
For Brussels Airlines, our main client is Radville farms, because they are the biggest air freighter in the country.
And how do you reach out to new customers and partners?
Through our dynamic sales department. We have just established a sales taskforce which goes to different people and knock at different doors.
You mentioned that among the countries in which you are operating The Gambia is the smallest market, and that is obvious because it is a small country, Can you tell us within The Gambia your position in the Gambia market
In The Gambia, I can tell you we are the leader in logistics. We have been here for more than 25 years now, we have been handling the operation of all heavyweight lift coming in or going out of the country.
Can you give us some key figures as regards number of employees and your annual turnover?
We have about 30 employees with an annual turnover of about D80 to 90 million. Our main activities are shipping; clearing and forwarding, warehousing, express service and freight forwarding.
You mentioned that you grow up in the company, what have you learnt throughout your career that you are implementing in your current position?
I have been with the company for about 20 years; initially I was in the finance section. If you are in finance you have to be involved in all operations.
Do you think it is the responsibility of the private sector to promote The Gambia on a global scale?
Yes it is, because the government cannot do all. The private sector should be the key partner of the government.
As a final remark, the Guide is going to be a special edition in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of The Gambia. Is there anything you would like to share with our readers as potential investors?
To be honest, it is not because I am a Gambian, but I know that in the period of your short stay you have already learnt that The Gambia is peaceful and the people are friendly.
Communication and infrastructural facilities are good as we have one of the best internet services in the sub-region. Our road network is being improved constantly. I think it is a good opportunity to invest in The Gambia.