Gambia’s Sixty Years Affection For Russia – OpEd


Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia Mamadou Tangara, on January 30 had an official interactive working meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov where both comprehensively reviewed their 60 year-old bilateral relations.

Late January, the bilateral encounter was based on the latest historical facts that the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, attended the first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in October 2019, and in July 2023, Mamadou Tangara represented the Gambia at the second summit in St Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

Appreciating highly the importance of the positive interaction between both foreign ministries, and in addition to interparliamentary political contacts have created the basis for further productive political dialogue, for enhancing trade and economic links, and for expanding mutual cooperation in humanitarian and education spheres.

In 2025, Russia and Gambia will mark their historical 60th year of establishing relations. Over these years little noticeable success has been recorded, but the time has now arrived to step up bilateral trade and economic cooperation. During their discussions, both Lavrov and Tangara have identified promising areas such as construction, infrastructure modernization, transport, agriculture and tourism. 

In the upcoming 2024/25 academic year, Moscow will double the number of scholarships allocated for the training of Gambian students at universities in the Russian Federation. There are prospects regarding the training of Gambian law enforcement personnel in Russia.

Lavrov and Tangara also reviewed other African issues, particularly the developments in the Sahara-Sahel region, with a specific focus on the situation in the four Republics of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger – and expressed concerns about the increasing terrorist threat posed by jihadist organizations which extends to West Africa.

The ministers shared the view that crises and conflicts on the African continent should be resolved based on the principle of “African problems, African solutions” and suggested the regional bloc ECOWAS and the African Union play a principle major roles in stabilizing the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region.

On his part, Lavrov informed about Russia’s readiness and assistance to countries in the region bilaterally, including to increase the defence capability and combat effectiveness of their national armed forces, training military personnel and law enforcement officers, in accordance with the decision made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he announced at the second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg in July 2023.

Considerable attention was devoted to advancing the entire range of mutually beneficial Russia-Africa ties in the context of implementing decisions adopted following the Second Russia-Africa Summit held in St Petersburg in July 2023.

The foreign ministers signed the Memorandum on Consultations between the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of Gambia.

West African country, The Gambia currently holds the presidency of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The 15th summit of the organization, which is scheduled to take place in Banjul in May, 2024. 

The Gambia’s economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and especially tourism. Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labour force. 

The United Kingdom and many EU countries constituted its major domestic export markets. However, in recent years, the United States, China and Japan have become significant trade partners of The Gambia. And increasingly, more Turkish, Indian and Chinese companies are showing interest and investing in The Gambia.

For instance, China has since 2017 invested in Gambia as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. A major focus of Chinese activity in Gambia has been processing of locally caught fish for the production of fish meal for export. 

In 2023, Gambia’s 48.6% of the estimated 2.6 million population lived in abject poverty. Geographically, it is the smallest country in continental Africa., and it is considered as the unique location known as the “smiling coast of Africa” and foreign tourists go enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Gambia is surrounded by Senegal, except for its western coast on the Atlantic Ocean.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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