Henry Gomez, minister of Youth and Sports, said The Gambia government recognises the role of young people in the rapid development of the country.
The minister made this remark at the graduation ceremony of 52 youths from Gambia Songhai Initiative agricultural training centre in Chamen, North Bank Region. He said the rapidly rising population of young people in the country poses development challenges but could also be transformed into an opportunity for effective contribution to national development. “Our most important resource as a country is our young people. With the right investments in this resource, we will realise our development aspirations.” He said.
“Without the relevant investments in youth to realise their full potentials, young people can easily be exposed to vices such as forced migration, radicalisation and violent extremism,” he warned.
The Gambia has witnessed massive migration of young people from the country to Europe using perilous routes. Many young lives have been lost in the process of trying to reach Europe.
“The Gambia can, however, reap the benefits of a bulging young population by investing in youth empowerment programmes,” the youth minister disclosed.
He added that harnessing the demographic dividend of Gambia’s youthful population would require effective investments in health, empowerment, education and employment of youth through public and private sector involvement. “Investing in young people living in rural areas is key to enhancing agricultural productivity and food security, boosting rural economies, and reducing rural-to-urban migration,” Mr Gomez said.