Barrow inaugurates 2022 OIC summit conference center

EYAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: President Adama Barrow today presided over the opening of an International Conference Center building, which will host the 2022 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) head of state summit in Banjul.

Located in the Serrekunda suburb of Bijilo, some 20 km from the capital, Banjul, the conference center is named as The Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, in memory of the country’s founding president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. It was constructed through a $50 million Chinese government grant.

President Barrow said bilaterally his government will continue to work with the Chinese government and remain supportive to the one China policy. “We opted to name this conference center after Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara as a tribute to him.”

He said the construction of the conference center was a prioritise project as it is a prerequisite for hosting the 2022 OIC heads of state summit and as a tourist attraction center as enshrined in his government’s National Development Plan (NDP).

The conference center is a state-of-the-art facility consisting of a plenary hall with seating capacity of 1,031, four adjoining conference halls, VIP rooms, bilateral rooms, press room, meeting rooms, offices, banquet halls and entertainment spaces with beautiful fauna and sea view.

The idea for Gambia to host the world’s second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations last year was first proposed by former President Yahya Jammeh which failed to materialise under President Adama Barrow.

With a membership of 57 states spread over four continents, the Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.

The Gambian leader said the magnitude of the project demonstrates China’s development designs and a new relationship between Africa and China, saying the center is one of its kind in the Africa region.

“I am hopeful that the center will give Gambians the opportunity to host meetings and host international conferences, provide employment and expose our diversity of culture to the world. We are profoundly grateful to China for its commitment to support The Gambia.

The OIC Gambia Secretariat was established as a charitable organization under the Companies Act of The Gambia 2013. It is under the president’s office to coordinate preparations for Gambia’s hosting of the 2019 OIC summit this November, which failed.

The first OIC Charter was adopted by the 3rd ICFM Session held in 1972. The Charter laid down the objectives and principles of the organization and fundamental purposes to strengthen the solidarity and cooperation among the Member States.

Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia, Ma Jianchun said China formally believes that the new edifice will further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Beijing, saying its completion demonstrates the full competence of China’s latest infrastructural designs.

“I believe that the ICC will become the must ideal place for Gambia to host conferences and others activities. Soon after the reconnection of the China-Gambia cooperation, ICC becomes one of the largest projects. Next year, road and bridge projects will be completed,” he said.

Over the last 40 years, OIC membership has grown from its founding members of 30 to 57 states. The Charter was amended to keep pace with the developments that have unraveled across the world. The present Charter of the OIC was adopted by the Eleventh Islamic Summit held in Dakar on 13-14 March 2008 to become the pillar of the OIC future Islamic action in line with the requirements of the 21st century.

Ambassador Jianchun said as part of its goals of building a closer and stronger China-Africa cooperation as announced at the Beijing-Africa summit, China always adheres to the principle of sincerity and attaches great importance to sustainable cooperation.

“China supports the efforts of The Gambia government through the NDP and we are willing to strengthen relations with Gambia through relevant projects.

He encouraged Gambians to follow the footsteps of first President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and develop the country, assuring that bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Beijing will continue to strengthen even further. “I have the fervent believe that Gambia will witness more such projects.”

Minister of transport, works and infrastructure, Bai Lamin Joof said the construction of the center stems from the diplomatic ties between China and The Gambia.

He said the center will enable The Gambia to host international conferences and further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Banjul and Beijing.

About Sir Dawda Jawara

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, (born May 16, 1924, in Barajally, died August 27, 2019, Fajara), is a politician and veterinarian who was The Gambia’s prime minister from 1962 to 1970 and its president from 1970 until he was overthrown in 1994.

The son of a Mande trader, Jawara was educated at a Methodist boys’ school, studied veterinary medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1953. Returning to The Gambia, he became principal veterinary officer of that British colony in 1957.

Jawara had become interested in politics, and in 1959 he joined the Protectorate People’s Party. He changed its name to the People’s Progressive Party and became its leader. In the elections of 1960 he won a seat in the Gambian legislature and was appointed minister of education in the government. He resigned his ministerial post in 1961 when the British government picked a rival Gambian leader to serve as the country’s interim prime minister preparatory to new elections.

The People’s Progressive Party won the general elections of 1962, and Jawara became The Gambia’s prime minister. He led his country into independence from Great Britain three years later. Under his leadership, the tiny nation of The Gambia became one of Africa’s few successful parliamentary democracies; Jawara’s ruling People’s Progressive Party won six successive elections (1966, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992) under completely free conditions after independence in 1965.

He was knighted in 1966. Jawara served as president from 1970, when a republican constitution was adopted to replace the former monarchy under the British sovereign. Jawara survived an attempted coup in 1981 with help from neighbouring Senegal, with which Gambia joined in a confederation called Senegambia from 1981 to 1989.

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