Gambians are bracing up for the first ever consultation on the transparent management of extractives industry and natural resources. Organised by the International Republican Institute (IRI), the two-day event will bring together policy makers, community leaders, government officials, civil society groups and representatives of the extractives industry.
“The conference is going to discuss how the extractives industry can impact the Gambian economy and people’s livelihood,” IRI Resident Program Director, Robina Namusisi, told reporters during a news conference held Tuesday at their head office in Fajara, some 9 km away from Banjul.
Over these past three years, communities have begun to stand up against mining and fishing activities that have negatively affected the environment, and destroyed their livelihood. The Faraba Banta unrest that led to the killings of three protesters, and actions taken by environmentalists in Gunjur to unearth Golden Lead company’s pipes are illustrative of the new challenges Gambia is confronted with.
She disclosed that the conference is going to introduce to major stakeholders to regular standards of governance of oil, gas and other natural resources.
IRI Resident Program Director further stated that the opening ceremony will be followed by six panels discussion that would be centred on thematic areas intended to improve the transparent management of extractives industry and natural resources.
She also told reporters that the objective of the conference is not to resolve all these issues, but to create awareness about destructive mining or fishing operations.
“We might not resolve everything, but this is a conversation we are going to start,” she remarked.
IRI Senior Advisor Mvemba Dizolele seized the opportunity to remind reporters about the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that caused the death of many people in India, adding that transparency management of natural resources will help prevent such catastrophe.
He went on to say that these issues are not Gambian problems, but a global challenge countries are facing in different parts of the world.
The conference is going to take place at Djembe hotel in Kololi, some 11 km away from Banjul.
Written by Abdoulie John