By Abdoulie John
In the wake of a decision taken by the International Trade Center (ITC) to drop one of the major components of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) that deals with Creative Industries, Gambian filmmaker Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu has taken to Facebook to decry such a move. He expressed his disappointment towards the €11 million YEP, deploring the fact that the sector will not benefit from the European Union-funded project.
“Well am not surprised as the creative sectors have their own rules and cannot be controlled like most “tamed” sectors,” Sankanu said in a June 29 Facebook post in which he took off the gloves and went straight to the point.
Over these past years, the cinematographic sector was struggling to survive in the face of mounting challenges. Since his return to Gambia, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu was able to bring a new synergy to film production in the country, creating opportunities for young artists.
Sankanu further stated that youths with creative skills are being left to struggle on their own.
“We have no strong lobby in Government yet as I stand to be corrected but I cannot see technocrats or advisers who can passionately help the Barrow Government understand the huge benefits of the creative economy for The Gambia and thus give it due attention within the National Development Plan 2018-2021,” he said.
He said if Nigeria film and art scenes are shining on the world map it is because of the support of the Federal Government, which provides “crucial funding when banks and donor agencies failed to support their artists and filmmakers.”
However, Sankanu conceded that the Tourism and Culture Minister Hamat Bah acknowledged that the country’s creative sectors has a huge potential to boost employment and even create more jobs than the tourism industry.
“Are we getting the right support to take off and make The Gambia proud?” he quizzed while venting his frustration over the present state of affairs in Gambian Creative Industries.
YEP Project Manager Raimund Moser, who spoke to this reporter, said there is a misunderstanding.
ITC has been contracted by the European Union to implement YEP, an initiative geared towards revamping the employment sector. Statistics released by the EU indicate that 242 Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises have been supported by the YEP project, 38000 youths have been reached since the launch of the project.
Raimund Moser then added they are working with the Creative Industries, citing the Kankurang Festival in Jangjangbureh.
“We are working with fashion designers and we want also to do more in multimedia (photography, radio production etc),” he remarked
In an attempt to shed light on the ‘controversy’ behind Sankanu’s reaction, he said there was an open tender directed to various companies working in this areas to provide proposals.
“We’ve received a number of proposals, and our procurement department is looking at them,” he said. But he was quick that some of the bidders put the bar too high.
“For the number of people to be trained in the sector, we will have to invest more money than in any other sector. That is why we decided to put on hold the tender regarding Creative Industries and do other initiatives,” he emphasized. “They all applied as a privately owned service provider.”
He said some people are frustrated because they haven’t received the contract, making it very clear this doesn’t mean in any way that ITC is not working in the Creative Industries.
Weighing in on the very specific procurement they’ve put on hold, he said they did not get the expected results in order to justify investments.
“We are looking at doing it differently,” he said.