By Gambia Correspondent – The Gambia government and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) yesterday signed a loan agreement for the financing of the University of The Gambia (UTG) campus at Faraba-Bantang.
The US$7 million loan to be paid over a period of 30 years, including 10 years grace period and 1% annual interest rate, is earmarked for the UTG project, which is estimated at US$52 million.
Said to be the 12th loan agreement between BADEA and the Gambia government from 1975 to date, the facility, in addition to the loans signed with IDA, OFID, Kuwaiti Fund and the Government counterpart funding, totals US$35.8 million.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held at State House in Banjul, President Yahya Jammeh who is the Chancellor of the University said the UTG was at the initial stage seen as a far-fetched dream by many people, but today it has become a reality.
According to the Gambian leader, the UTG is a university to be reckoned with in international academia. He noted that education is indispensable, and that no political ideology without the help of education can eradicate ignorance in any part of the world.
“When we talked about the University of The Gambia way back in 1994, nobody took it seriously,” he said, while commending BADEA for their support, noting that each time the government needed them, BADE wasted no time to respond.
Also speaking at the signing ceremony was Mambury Njie, minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, who said the construction of the new University campus in Faraba-Bantang is to make available an additional space to meet the increased demand for academic education, and avail the required cadres in different fields.
According to him, the project’s longterm objective is to develop and raise academic education standards in the country through the construction of modern building facilities. This, he added, will address the interlinked problems of transportation, affecting both teaching staff and students, and also reduce operating costs.
Noting that the Gambia is now waiting to finalize a loan facility with the Saudi Fund for US$10 million to complete the financing envelope, Finance minister Njie commended BADEA for providing the Gambia government with the facility.
For his part, Abdul Aziz Khelef, ,Director General of BADEA stated that the signing of the loan agreement is a new step in BADEA’s contribution to the socio-economic development of The Gambia, noting that it also signifies the amicable relations that bind the Gambia on one hand and the Arab world on the other.
According to him, BADEA finds the underlying justification for the project firmly sound and unquestionable. “University education, which is a public good, has numerous quantifiable and non-quantifiable returns with great socio-economic benefits to the country. It is an important pillar of human capital development, contributing to skills formation and knowledge building,” he added.
Khelef revealed that this project adds to a list of projects supported by BADEA in The Gambia since 1976, totaling 26 operations with overall commitments of about 92 million dollars, including 12 development projects, 9 technical assistance operations, and 2 trade finance operations.
He also reiterated BADEA’s commitment to assist The Gambia alleviate poverty, and promote development.