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The Gambia’s Pathway to Prosperity

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Good Morning, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to express my appreciation to Minister Njie for the kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here today in Banjul to speak to such a distinguished audience at this moment of new possibilities for The Gambia.

You represent a true cross-section of this society—reflecting many different interests but sharing the hopes of all Gambians. These hopes found expression in the peaceful political transition of 2017. In just two days here, I am struck with admiration by the energy, determination, and patience of this nation. You have embraced your country’s challenges and opportunities, and your efforts are beginning to bear fruit. What I have sensed is a road to hope and a bright future. Or, in other words, a pathway to prosperity. This is what I would like to address in the time I have this morning.

Let me first set the stage by offering a quick overview of the economic setting in sub-Saharan Africa and The Gambia. As you know, the region has benefited from solid growth over the past two decades. But the past four years have proven more challenging. We have witnessed a divergence of economic fortunes—with diversified, well managed economies continuing to grow and many resource-dependent countries encountering difficulties.

While this pattern has continued recently, we are seeing regional growth regain some momentum. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that growth in sub-Saharan Africa should accelerate this year to 3.5 percent from 3 percent in 2018. We expect it to expand at close to 4 percent over the medium term. This is good news.

We are very pleased to see that the Gambian economy has rebounded strongly. Growth in 2018 reached 6.6 percent and prospects for sustained growth are positive over the medium term. Inflation has dropped to just above 6 percent, and gross official reserves have increased to about 3 months of imports. This remarkable progress has been achieved through your government’s efforts to stabilize the economy with support from Gambians living abroad, the private sector, and international partners.

There also has been progress in developing infrastructure, which is crucial to ensuring sustained growth. The recently opened Senegambia Bridge, which I am going to visit later today, is a prime example of this progress. It is a symbol of The Gambia’s efforts to deepen economic ties to the rest of the region.

The bridge is also a good segue to the theme of my speech: The Gambia’s pathway to prosperity. As a road, it is a pathway in the literal sense. But it is also a pathway in figurative sense, symbolizing the role of enhanced trade and connectivity in building prosperity. At the same time, domestic policy efforts will be needed to build this pathway.

Enhanced trade is one pillar of the pathway to prosperity. Africa is now moving ahead with creating the Continental Free Trade Area, which The Gambia recently endorsed. This initiative has the potential to boost intra-African trade and growth across many dimensions. It can add jobs, foster competition, help increase investment, and spur the spread of knowledge and technology.[1] All of which could provide significant benefits to The Gambia.

The agreement itself, however, is but one step. To fully benefit from it, the significant nontariff bottlenecks to trade that exist across the region will also need to be tackled. These include infrastructure shortcomings, logistical costs, and other hurdles that hinder cross-border trade.

If these issues are addressed, regional trade integration can help maximize the returns on important public investment, such as the Senegambia bridge, and consolidate the recent pick-up in private sector activity and lending that is integral to sustainable development in The Gambia. On this point, it is important to note that this private sector-led growth needs to be supported through responsible lending by financial institutions to Gambian businesses large and small. Vigilant supervision of banks and other credit institutions will help to ensure financial stability in the face of growing private capital inflows.

Trade integration will also help frame the reforms of this country’s state-owned enterprises. In many cases, the long-term viability of those companies will depend on increasing their regional orientation.

Take the example of the energy sector. The stabilization of electricity output has contributed to your country’s stronger growth. So, the ongoing investment in the electricity transmission not only will link the Eastern and Northern parts of the country, it will also open doors to West Africa’s power networks by enabling cross-border energy trading, including under the flagship OMVG project uniting The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau with the aim of harnessing the water resources of The Gambia River Basin to produce low-cost renewable energy for the member countries.

In the same vein, investment to upgrade the port of Banjul could create a new trans-shipment hub for the region. Seen in this context, the Senegambia Bridge could be just one step in the development of the Trans-Gambia corridor within Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Regional integration and cooperation are particularly important for improving the structure of the economy and enhancing competitiveness. Let me offer two examples:

First, agriculture could be an important contributor to The Gambia’s pathway to prosperity. Regional trade integration and improved infrastructure will be key to growing this important sector of the economy.

On Sunday, I visited Radville Farms, outside Banjul and their processing plant and transit facility near Yundum airport. It was great to see how automation and advanced irrigation techniques are helping to produce high-value and high-yielding crops, boosting exports, and providing high-value employment for many skilled workers, especially women.

In the future, weather tracking, satellite imaging and other sophisticated technological solutions (including artificial intelligence) will be needed to modernize agriculture. They will help to create a farming sector that is more environmentally attuned and resilient to climatic shocks. This is especially important for small and fragile ecosystems like The Gambia’s. Agriculture will then be better able to meet national goals of food self-sufficiency and creation of new export markets.

Second, tourism and other services also remain essential to your future. Regarding tourism, it is great to see The Gambiaattracting record numbers of visitors. New hotels, roads, and other amenities will attract more tourists and will help rebrand your country’s tourism offerings, including by branching out into eco-tourism and water sports. The ongoing expansion of transport infrastructure will facilitate tourism, including better connections to the region. These connections, importantly, will also allow goods to move around the region and help develop trade-related services, including re-exports.

Regional economic integration and cooperation will also strengthen The Gambia’s external position. Exports, private capital inflows, and remittances from Gambians working abroad are rebounding and are likely to increase further with regional integration. This will help build foreign exchange reserves and strengthen confidence in the Dalasi.

So, there are grounds for optimism about the economic outlook. The gains we are witnessing will support your efforts to improve the quality of life for all Gambians. We are already seeing progress in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates, and so much more is envisaged under the National Development Plan.

This highlights that, beyond regional integration, there are other important areas of reform to move The Gambia along the pathway to prosperity, which are also key for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to highlight three areas:

First, unlocking financial support from donors is one critical challenge. This can be addressed by resolving The Gambia’sunsustainable public debt situation. In this regard, I am pleased to report that at a recent roundtable meeting in Washington, D.C., most creditors indicated support for debt relief. Your government and its advisors are following up on this development.

Second, fostering inclusive growth and addressing social needs is another priority. This means attacking poverty through programs aimed at aiding vulnerable households and creating jobs for unemployed youth. By lowering debt service costs, debt relief can also create budget room to address these needs as well as other budget priorities, including the reform of state-owned enterprises.

Third, strengthening the rule of law and increasing accountability and transparency will also be crucial steps toward sustainable growth. The Janneh Commission revealed the extent of financial mismanagement and misappropriation during the previous regime. More focused efforts will be needed to recover stolen domestic and foreign assets.

The IMF joins the rest of the international community in applauding the governments’ commitment to transitional justice reform through the work of the Commission of Enquiry and the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, and the recently established National Human Rights Commission. We also note the plans to establish an Anti-Corruption Commission.

We also join the international community in support of the security sector reforms, which are essential for modernizing the state and strengthening the rule of law.

To conclude, I would like to discuss the role of the IMF.

The Fund provided emergency support in 2017 and is continuing our engagement through a Staff-Monitored Program. In the future we may be able to move to a medium-term program with concessional financing.

In addition, along with international partners and supporting countries, the IMF is strongly committed to helping The Gambia strengthen key institutions, including by providing our technical expertise and training.

It is essential that the assistance of the international community, including the IMF, is closely linked to your country’s development priorities. Please be assured that we stand ready to listen to your ideas and proposals—and to provide all the help we can.

We look forward to working with you as you proceed along your pathway to prosperity.

Thank you for your time and attention. I am happy now, together with IMF colleagues, to answer any questions you may have.

SOURCE International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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Synopsys and Kudan Collaborate to Accelerate Development of Intelligent Computer Vision Processing SoCs

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Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS) and Kudan, a leading simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) software algorithms licensor, today announced a collaboration to optimize Kudan’s SLAM computer software algorithms for Synopsys’ DesignWare® ARC® EV6x Embedded Vision Processor IP. Kudan’s KudanSLAM software algorithms create and expand a map of an environment while simultaneously keeping track of the camera’s location within it. SLAM is used in autonomous vehicles, drones, robots, and augmented reality applications for concurrent scene mapping and device localization.

Kudan is optimizing its software to offload and accelerate algorithms by taking advantage of the Synopsys DesignWare ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processors’ scalable hardware architecture, which includes up to four 512-bit vector DSPs and a fully programmable convolutional neural network (CNN) engine. The combined hardware-software solution enables designers to accelerate the SLAM tasks of tracking and mapping that take input from LiDAR, Time of Flight (TOF) cameras, inertial measurement units (IMUs), or odometry data while consuming significantly less power and memory resources than alternative implementations.

“Solutions that increase the efficiency and accuracy of computer vision devices will form the foundation of mass-market SLAM applications,” said Tomo Ohno, founder and managing director at Kudan. “The combination of the ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processor and KudanSLAM will deliver the best performance and power efficiencies in the market and provide the software infrastructures by which product builders can develop revolutionary applications for automotive ADAS, robotics, and AR/VR.”

The fully programmable and configurable DesignWare ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processor IP cores are optimized for embedded vision applications, combining the flexibility of software solutions with the low cost and low power consumption of hardware. The ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processor family is supported by Synopsys’ MetaWare EV Development Toolkit, a comprehensive software programming environment based on common embedded vision standards including OpenCV, OpenVX™, and OpenCL™ C.

“Performance, power consumption, and high accuracy are critical requirements for computer vision applications,” said John Koeter, vice president of marketing for IP at Synopsys. “By collaborating with Kudan to optimize their software for Synopsys’ ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processor, we are providing designers with a highly efficient and accurate hardware-software solution to accelerate the development of SoCs implementing SLAM functionality.”

 

SOURCE Synopsys, Inc.

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RSM’s Industry Eminence Program Announces Class of 2019

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RSM US LLP (“RSM”) – the nation’s leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market – is pleased to announce the second class of the firm’s Industry Eminence Program. The new eminence class joined the 10 members of the firm’s inaugural class in New York City this month to kick off their participation in the three-year program.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see how the Industry Eminence Program has flourished in just one year,” said Joe Adams, managing partner and chief executive officer with RSM US LLP. “We now have 22 bright, highly accomplished people in the program who will be developing and sharing valuable information that will help drive thoughtful client conversations and further advance RSM’s vision to be the first-choice advisor to middle market leaders globally. We predicted this program would be a game changer for the firm – we were right.”

Created and led by Joe Brusuelas, RSM US LLP chief economist, and Kevin Depew, RSM US LLP deputy chief economist, the cutting-edge program will position this new class of senior analysts during their first year to understand, forecast and communicate business, economic and technology trends shaping the industries RSM serves.

Senior analysts will focus 50 percent of their time on the eminence program and 50 percent on continuing to serve clients. Over the three years of the program, participants will concentrate on learning the foundations of industry analysis and thought leadership development, and they will bring that knowledge to current and prospective clients, the marketplace and their peers within the firm.

The program is an intensive immersion into data analytics, trend analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning designed for experienced managers through partners. Senior analysts will leave the program with the ability to analyze and interpret economic and industry trends and data, and will serve as internal and external thought leaders for clients. They will also become regular contributors to The Real Economy, RSM’s monthly publication focused on economic issues impacting the middle market, and will produce other thought leadership for their industries.

“In this rapidly evolving economy, it’s imperative that we stay attuned to economic indicators so that we can forecast the potential impact on our clients and the industries in which they operate,” said Brusuelas. “Through this program, our senior analysts are trained to anticipate trends and provide actionable insights to help RSM advise clients on the conditions impacting middle market leaders and beyond. We’re excited to expand the program and look forward to the added value that the new class will bring to our clients, our industry teams and the marketplace.”

“The first year of the program has exceeded our expectations due to the commitment of our inaugural class of senior analysts,” said Depew. “We are confident that this impressive new class will apply the knowledge they gain through this intensive curriculum to better serve our clients and our people. I have no doubt that we are in for another great year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

The 2019 class of RSM Industry Eminence Program senior analysts includes:

Name

Focus Industry

Peter Cadigan

Consumer Products

Kennedy Chinyamutangira

Financial Services

Karen Galivan

Consumer Products

Jessika Garis

Health Care

Michael Gerlach

Business and Professional Services

Shruti Gupta

Industrial Products

Scott Helberg

Real Estate

Megan Hicks

Industrial Products

Brandon Koeser

Financial Services

Adam Lohr

Technology

David Mamane

Financial Services

Davis Nordell

Technology

“These 12 talented individuals are passionate about how industry expertise takes client experience to the next level,” said Don Lipari, national industry leader with RSM US LLP. “Each one brings an innovative mindset that will contribute to the continued success of the program. The overall enthusiasm for the program has been rewarding to see, and we are thrilled with how quickly our inaugural class has been able to translate insights into opportunities for our clients. We are sure this class will do the same.”

The second class of industry senior analysts was selected in January 2019. Applications for the next class will be accepted this fall.

 

SOURCE RSM US LLP

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Blue Prism Enables Easier Access and Greater Collaboration to Advance Intelligent Automation Capabilities

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Looking to provide greater flexibility and access to its digital workforce, Blue Prism (AIM: PRSM) today launched its new online user community while also adding ecommerce capabilities to its Digital Exchange (DX), making it easier for organizations to deploy and scale their intelligent automation solutions. These advances build on Blue Prism’s connected-RPA vision of collaborative innovation, by creating a growing community that shares best practices and provides greater access to the latest artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, intelligent document processing and cloud capabilities.

“Our motto of automating together, better and more, is definitely highlighted with these new capabilities,” says Dave Moss, Co-Founder and CTO for Blue Prism. “We are listening and responding by supporting a self-service model, which makes it easier for our customers to share, innovate and deploy intelligent automation solutions. These new capabilities help unify customer experiences and best practices for sharing, while providing the necessary community support to make automation the cornerstone of any digital transformation.”

Enhancements to DX
By way of the ecommerce capabilities, Blue Prism’s Digital Exchange, an intelligent automation marketplace comprising of customers, technology and channel partners, now enables customers or prospects to quickly buy and download software licenses directly from the exchange. This introductory package, which consists of a single software license along with one-year standard support, makes it easy for people to get started, learn more and explore what’s possible with an intelligent digital workforce. In the next 90 days, the ecommerce functionality will also allow other Blue Prism partners to offer their assets and integrations for sale via the DX.

Anyone can now purchase and download this introductory Blue Prism v6.5 package, which includes work queue trends and analytics, full Japanese and simplified Chinese language capabilities, IPv6 support, and data gateways, offering more data control while reducing the amount of storage being used.

Private Assets is another new key feature on the DX. Users control who can view assets outside of a customer or partner’s organization. They can only be seen by the employees of said company and then only after they are logged in. This feature gives enterprise customers more security and control over the assets used by their employees, only those that they approve, license and test are made available.

Since being launched back in November 2018, DX adoption continues to skyrocket with more than 4,120 registered users from nearly 714 registered companies who can download over 110 assets to accelerate the time to market for their intelligent automation projects. It provides business leaders drag and drop access to AI, machine learning, cognitive and disruptive technologies from companies they know and trust. Other new key enhancements to DX include integration with Google Analytics to provide more visibility into how assets are being downloaded and used. Support for open sourced Blue Prism assets being shared via GitHub as well as the ability for partners and customers to securely share proprietary assets has also been added.

According to Forrester Research, the partner of the future will likely not be a pure transacting one. “It doesn’t make sense to the new generation of tech buyers who make two-thirds of all new tech decisions today. As mentioned above, 73 percent of business buyers find the web more convenient to make purchases, and we forecast that 17 percent of all B2B transactions will happen through ecommerce by 2023″.¹

Blue Prism Community Now Live 
The Blue Prism Community is a new online experience where users can share, learn and create. The Blue Prism Community provides a new and exciting platform where users can engage with others who share common interests, goals and objectives. The Blue Prism Community provides:

  • An online space open to everyone that is easy to navigate, and where users can get up to speed on important announcements and industry news.
  • Participation in a growing ecosystem of digital entrepreneurs and innovative companies redefining the nature of work.
  • Access to an innovation corner for new Blue Prism product ideas and features, including DX.
  • A home for regional and industry-specific user groups.
  • Discussion communities and in-person meet-ups for practitioners, professionals and innovators.
  • Latest content and information on upcoming events, learning tools, demos, etc.

 

SOURCE Blue Prism

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