Tens of thousands of Gambians left the country during former President Jammeh's regime, and many helped in removing the regime to a democratic government. During Jammeh’s years of authoritarian rule and corruption, more than 100,000 of Gambia's 2 million citizens left the country, establishing communities from New York to Oslo.
Gambia House believes that the Gambian community located within the Diaspora, needs to play an active role in promoting national reconstruction and cohesion. More than 100,000 Gambians are estimated to be living abroad. These numbers alone underline the scale of the contribution that they can make towards the national project. The Nordic Countries has a large number of Gambians living outside their country (just over eight thousand) with a distribution by country, Sweden, as of 2016, Gambia (5,055), Norway as of 2010, (1,606 Finland,897 (2017), Denmark, 934 (2018).
Many Gambians in the Diaspora understand that their role extends far beyond sending remittances for household upkeep. Supporting national development includes investing in business, making social remittances in the knowledge economy, influencing policies that support economic recovery as well as engaging in various forms of human capacity development for fellow Gambians.
For the reason the Gambia House is starting the engagement of the Gambian Diaspora through The Nordic Gambian Diaspora Investment Forum a product of Gambia House, this Forum is unlike any other event or convening. What makes it special is that we are building a community that cares about uplifting the lives of Gambians in Gambian as well as the communities in which they live. This Forum will bring together our compatriots within the Nordic Countries to start a conversation about how Gambians abroad could be mobilised to aid in the country’s economic and social development. This gathering will be the first in a series of forums that will systematically consider ways in which those living outside Gambia, and key players within the country, can work together. This initiative will facilitate a more inclusive discussion on national reconstruction that incorporates the contributions of individuals, government, the private sector and civil society.
The Forum aims to:
Facilitate the formation of an institutional framework that will support effective contributions to and participation in economic recovery by Gambians living abroad.
Provide a platform for opinion leaders and implementers to discuss the role of the Diaspora.
Define mechanisms, processes and policies that will allow government, business, civil society and other sectors to make optimal use of the vast number of Gambians living abroad to contribute to national recovery and long-term development.
Exchange experiences facilitate networking and the sharing of good practices from the Nordic region in the field of remittances, transnational entrepreneurship and diaspora investments.
Assess barriers for catalysing diaspora investments and highlight opportunities for the Nordic region
Harness the information and lessons learnt to prepare the ground for a Link Up.
Gambia House believes that an economic recovery strategy that emphasises the return of skills must have a clear agenda. The call for Gambians to return home must be accompanied by appropriate policies to absorb these skills through a range of government programmes, alongside creative solutions developed by those in the Diaspora. It is vital to underscore the point that in an age of technological advancement ‘returning home’ can take various forms beyond the physical movement of persons. ‘Returning home’ can be through the Diaspora deploying their financial investments in the home market
For this reason, The Nordic Gambian Diaspora Investment Forum will look at how diaspora direct investments could be leveraged in a way to benefit the Gambia’s economic development. The NORGDIF will showcase successful diaspora initiatives, provide an opportunity to learn from regional experiences and stimulated critical reflections on diaspora engagement and their link to business creation and expansion. The NORGDIF is poised to become a place for Diaspora investment. Together, we can work toward a future in which Gambians have access to foundational needs, including food, health care, housing, income, and education.