Since I left the OIC Secretariat I refused to speak or meddle in the preparations of the summit as it would have given a negative connotation on a national effort that needed all the efforts and support of the citizenry.

The curtains have been drawn and the OIC summit has come to past and there are few deliverables expected from hosting such a mega event. 

The first critical delivery before embarking on the infrastructure works was the enactment of a LOCAL CONTENT LEGISLATION. 

This law would have empowered indigenous contractors to partner with international firms thereby building capacity for future public infrastructure works. 

The second deliverable was to establish a SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND to manage the assets (hotel, conference centre and lounge) realised for hoisting the summit. 

The third deliverable was to partner with a big name hotel chain such as Radisson, Marriott or Hilton to sell destination Gambia as a MICE (Meeting, International Conference and Entertainment) using the conference centre, hotel, airport and cars and our hospitable weather as leverage. 

I am not sure if this will be realised going forward because the hotel is not realised. Talks were ongoing to have a hotel called Bin Salman Hotel named after the Saudi King whereby Gambia will provide the land and the Royal family through the assistance of the Saudi Development Fund and Saudi Investment fund [will build it]. 

Water treatment facility was also promised to serve hotels and residence from Sheraton to Cape Point and a new borehole field in Sanyang. 

[About] 110 vehicles were also solicited from the Saudis to assist in the movement of the delegates as it was the responsibility of the host nation to provide a minimum of 3 cars per delegation and all of the cars needed were not necessarily high-end vehicles. 
I will not say that all is lost but we have a missed opportunity as most of the funds were mobilised in the early days of the project. TRT of Turkey also pledged to assist GRTS through TICAD but these pledges needed aggressive follow-ups to see fruition. 

Gambians in all sectors should have registered economic dividends in us hosting the summit but sadly some of these dividends went to foreign nationals who in turn subcontracted local expertise to execute the assigned tasks. 

A web portal was to be built to offer a two way service. The first service was to allow delegates to register before coming to Gambia and receive their badges, seat numbers and credentials upon arrival at the airport. 

Hotels and apartments were to be posted on the webpage to facilitate bookings thereby eliminating the middleman in the transaction. At no point did we factor the renting of villas because the hotel complex that was to be built would have catered for the accommodation of the VVIPs. 

Fast forward to today and most of these things were just a plan because the blueprint wasn’t rigorously followed and executed. 

God bless the Gambia!

By Nyang Njie

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