By: Fatou Dahaba
In championing youth employment and leadership, on Wednesday, 27th December, TAF Africa Global Conference and Networking graduated over 300 fellows in the sixth edition of TAFCON 2023 at the Sir Dawda Jawara International Conference Center.
This year’s Conference and Networking is under the theme “Rising Strong – Resilience and Preparedness to Navigate the Challenges of an Emerging New Global Architecture,” specifically focusing on youth empowerment and entrepreneurship amid a challenging economic climate.
The program brought together significant stakeholder groups from The Gambia, including government ministers, diplomats, business owners, entrepreneurs, young people, the private sector, civil society, and people with disabilities, to discuss time-critical issues affecting the nation and the continent.
The participants went through a one-year fellowship program to build their leadership skills and entrepreneurial ideas to become entrepreneurs, with every monthly session with a resource person.
TAFCON 2023’s primary goals are to provide a platform for different stakeholders to discuss and provide solutions for priority national development issues, to encourage young people, especially those with physical disabilities and other marginalized groups, and to give them a forum for participation and involvement in the Gambia.
Additionally, it addressed the youth on the socio-economic challenges the country is facing to come up with recommendations and partnerships that will provide viable solutions at both the policy and implementation levels.
Dilating on empowering youth, Mustapha Njie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TAF Global, said the event’s primary goal is to empower the youth by providing them with practical skills, insights, and resources to thrive in the face of economic challenges.
“Through interactive sessions and panels, we aim to equip young individuals with the resilience to navigate uncertainties and emerge stronger in their personal and professional pursuits.”
He added: ‘In an era where trust is paramount, upholding integrity is crucial, and one needs ethics and morality in today’s world to excel and achieve your dreams.’
The President of The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Omar A. Touray, informed the fellows that, as they step out of the academy, they must have a clear vision about where they want to be and what they will do to get their vision will become their mission.
“As graduate students, you have already acquired a lot of knowledge in your various areas of specialization and technical skills, but the attitude of knowing it all will only retard your personal development, so you should not leave the academy with that attitude. Remember, your vision should be accompanied by competency and character, which will determine your career path, confidence in getting the job, and character will keep you in the job”.
The Minister of Trade Regional Integration and Employment, Babucarr Joof, advised the fellows to build networks, share best practices, and collaborate with the government to implement the necessary reforms for a more conducive business environment.
He added that the gathering will also create a national platform for youth entrepreneurs to access coaches, mentors, and advisers and information about the distribution system, supply chain connection, and other opportunities.
“The government of the Gambia developed the first-ever entrepreneurship policy to build a national entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Gambia. The policy’s objective is to improve the general condition of enterprise creation and enterprise rule considering the Gambia’s social and environmental challenges that address the legal, social, and regulatory barriers for equitable, effective economic participation focusing on women and children.”
Bakary Badgie, the Minister of Youth and Sports, said his ministry is ready to accept recommendations from the discussions from TAFCON to see how they collaborate to address pertinent issues affecting young people.
“The government is cognizant of the challenges faced by Gambian youth, and they’re ready to provide policy environment in terms of funding and build their capacity and prepare them to manage the formal and informal sector of the economy and the general development of the Gambia. I implore you to discuss possible business ideas to change economic realities.”
As part of its social corporate responsibility strategy, TAF Africa Global hosts an annual networking event in The Gambia — the TAF Africa Global Conference and Networking Event (TAFCON).