The tourism industry in Africa is one of the most lucrative economic sectors on the continent, even in a small West African country like The Gambia tourism accounts for 20.4 percent of its GDP and constitutes the third-largest source of income towards the country’s GDP. Such a sector needs to be closely monitored by the authorities of every State for the stability and sustainability of its economy.
However, recently in The Gambian foreign investors in the Tourism Sector have taken a step that caused outrage in the country. In their quest to dominate the tourism industry, European and the Lebanese investor in the restaurant and nightlife industries purportedly formed a “national hospitality association” in which Gambian stakeholders in the said sectors were deliberately excluded.
One of the excluded Gambian investors, Hatib Janneh, owns multiple luxury hotels and night clubs. The only Gambian invited to be part of the association was assigned the position of a spoke person.
In an interview with a local online TV, The Fatu Network, just a few days ago, Mr. Janneh, one of the most notable names in the restaurant business and nightlife, expressed his disappointment on the foreign investors’ attempt to exclude Gambians in the formation of the association.
“I was called upon by an anonymous person [angered by this conduct by the foreign investors] who asked me to use my influence to ask the government not to recommend the association.” Mr. Janneh said. One local, one Mr. Lamin Thiossan, was the only Gambian in the association who owns a small restaurant in the Senegambia area.
The domination of foreign investors in Africa and their local counterparts’ marginalization have recently faced intense criticisms.
As a significant player in the industry, Mr. Janneh argued that foreign investors are seeking to monopolized and dominate the industry.
Undoubtedly, the support for local industries is instrumental for the economic independence and progress of Africa. Therefore, it is by all accounts unjustifiable for the matters of the economics of a State to empower foreign and profit-oriented machinery over the native investors. Anything contrary to this system will serve as an ancillary to neo-colonialism.
The leadership of the continent has continuously demonstrated a lack of regard for African investors. The Republic of Benin, for example, has shown preference in buying cement from China instead of Dangote from Nigeria.
Foreign investors like Chinese and European firms continue to engage in severe environmental effluence in Africa, particularly in The Gambia. Recent reports on the destruction of the maritime industry by the Chinese, such as in The Gambia, are continuously greeted by ominous silence from the government’s side amidst ceaseless corruption allegations.
With the continuous rise of populism and nationalistic leaders worldwide, it will be ungratifying for Africans not to preserve its natural resources and its business space for its use.