The Gambia government, through the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, recently launched the Decent Work Country Program (DWCP), 2015-2017. The objective of the program is to reduce poverty through the promotion of equitable, inclusive and sustainable development in The Gambia. It was developed in collaboration with International Labor Organization (ILO) and one of its key objectives is to promote employment creation and achieve decent work imperatives.
In his statement on the occasion, held at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa, the Trade and Employment Minister, Abdoulie Jobe, said the launching of the three-year program reaffirmed the government’s commitment to create opportunities through a favorable business environment. He said the program will enable women and men in The Gambia to obtain productive and decent working conditions in freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
Minister Jobe explained that employment provides a significant linkage between economic growth and poverty reduction, by allowing the poor to generate income. He said the DWCP is developed to mainstream employment in national development policies and strategies. It would pave the way towards a more beneficial and inclusive growth for all.
The program would promote youth employment, enhance national ownership of labor standards and encourage investment in skills and sustainable enterprises to achieve women’s economic and social empowerment and gender equality.
Minister Jobe stated the government is making efforts to establish the necessary regulatory framework, such as regularizing the minimum wage bill through the joint industrial council, and publishing in the national gazette the occupational health and safety regulation.
He said in collaboration with the ILO, capacities would be built to further strengthen the implementing institutions of programs and strategies related to the decent work program boosts efforts to reduce poverty and increase livelihood.
“The government would continue to strive in bringing all the necessary elements to fight the menace of employment,” the minister said.
The United Nations Systems Coordinator and UNDP resident representative, Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, said the decent work program is central to people’s well-being, globally. By providing income, decent work paves the way for broader social and economic advancement and empowers individuals, their families and communities, she explained.
The UNDP official said according to the Labor Force Survey (LFS) done in The Gambia, the unemployment rate stood at 29.2 per cent nationally. Youth unemployment rate stood at 38 per cent. Mrs Lekoetje added the UN Systems in The Gambia acknowledges the significance The Gambia government has attached to decent work and employment creation.
The ILO director country office and liaison office for ECOWAS, Dennis Zulu, said sub-Saharan Africa has the highest labour force participation rate of all regions, estimated at 70.9 per cent compared with a global average of 63.5 per cent in 2014, according to a report titled ‘ILO Employment Trends for Youth 2015’. He said unemployment, at a rate just under 8 per cent in 2014, is expected to remain stable through to 2016.
According to Mr Zulu, youth-to-adult employment ratio is 1:9, the lowest of all regions worldwide which sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of working poverty and vulnerable employment across all regions.