The Chief Executive Officer for the Secretariat of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference Gambia (OIC), Lamin Sanneh, on Tuesday said preparations for the hosting of the Summit have reached an advanced stage.
Lamin Sanneh was speaking to journalists at the OIC Secretariat headquartered at Petroleum House, located at Brusubi Junction, some 11km away from Banjul.
The West African nation will be the epicenter of the Islamic Ummah in November 2019 as it is scheduled to welcome more than 57 heads of State. Major plans have been unveiled by the Secretariat geared towards making the event a success.
In what appeared to be his maiden exchange with the media, OIC’s Lamin Sanneh expressed his readiness to answer questions. He then urged reporters to avoid relying on rumours, saying they have an open-door policy.
When asked whether it is conceivable to launch the OIC Summit within one year, he made it clear that they are planning ahead.
“We are not thinking about 2019. Our objective is to build The Gambia, create jobs for the youths, which might go beyond the Summit,” he told reporters in an attempt to show that his team is exerting great efforts to not only meet the deadline, but also to avoid experiencing post-event disappointment.
Sanneh announced that works at he airport have reached their final stage. He disclosed that the Secretariat is teaming up with Civil Aviation to make sure that everything is done come 2019.
Giving approximation of the cost of the OIC Summit, he clearly stated that their extimated budget is $250 million, funded mainly by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely Saudia Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Expectations are high for the 2019 OIC Summit to boost public infrastructures that would result to an increase in investment and jobs creation.
He subsequently added that they budgeted $80 million for the hotel; $100 million for the 100 km long road; and between $15 to $25 million for the airport and VIP lounge etc.
“The conference center is funded by the Chinese through a $50 million grant,” he said.
Sanneh further stated that hosting the OIC Summit provides the country with an opportunity to launch a project to rebranding Gambia as an “international conference hub.”
“This asset we are creating, we are going to manage it on a commercial basis in order to generate revenues that would be used by government to fund projects,” he said.
As the conference poses major security concerns for the Secretariat, he assured that they are working with the country’s top security officials to address these issues.
Sanneh confided to reporters that a Turkish team is already in the country. He said they came on a need-assessment basis and are working with their Gambian counterparts.
“Today, we can confidently tell you that Gambia is prepared to host the OIC Summit,” he emphasized.