When it comes to accepting funds, African leaders can stoop to any level and accept any terms - no matter the implications on the long or short run.
When the news first broke that France will be giving Gambia a 30 million euros ($34 million) loan to “consolidate democracy and stability in the country”, international lenders - prominent among whom was the International Monetary Fund (IMF) advised the country against accepting such an offer saying it will be detrimental for the West African country to borrow money to 'ease the burden on debt stock'; but the country had shunned all warnings and accepted the loan with open arms.
There is no gain saying that a large chunk of the loan may end up in personal bank accounts thus the eagerness to accept the funds despite the foreseeable dangers. Why else will a country go ahead to sign an agreement that is not in its best interest?
The financial aid came after the recent visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to the Gambia. In a report made available to Reuters, the country hopes to spend 5 million euros for budgetary support, 20 million for drinking water projects and 5 million for agricultural projects.
A point in defense of Gambia however is why the IMF or World Bank didn't provide the funds for the country which claims to be in dire need of financial aid following the ousting of former leader Yahya Jammeh whom the current administration claims emptied the country's entire treasure before leaving for exile in Guinea where he is currently engaged in farming.
Yahya Jammeh ruled the country for 22 years and in 2011 told the BBC during an interview that he "will deliver to the Gambian people and if I have to rule this country for one billion years, I will, if Allah says so." He is currently facing charges for cases involving summary executions, disappearances, torture, rape and other crimes during his 22-year rule.
Adama Barrow approved the swearing in of an 11-member truth, reconciliation and reparations commission to look into the accusations of abuses perpetrated by the former leader.
France interest in Gambia is nothing new as they have been knocking on the door for a long time. What is surprising however is that Gambia is an English colony which gained independence in 1965, but France has used the excuse of its closeness to Senegal (a French colony) to seek ties with the country.
Despite being Africa's top producer of groundnut, the country's debt stock reached a record high of 130 percent of gross domestic product as at 2017.
Only time will reveal the outcome of this new partnership as reports have it that French company are already having a strong presence in the country and bidding for government contracts.
Could this loan be a ploy by the French to gain advantage in Gambia? What are your thoughts?
Photo Credit: VOA