In America, President Trump has only just backed down from a protracted government shutdown over building a wall. In his tweet on the decision, Trump flatly dashed all hopes that this could be how he concedes and moves on to better priorities. Instead, he said, "This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!" The biggest power in the world is haggling over closing borders but thankfully, Africa is not taking a cue from America. While America burns bridges, Africa is building them!
The recent commissioning of the SeneGambia Bridge, otherwise known as the TransGambia is a victory for African integration in more ways than one. For starters, the bridge was primarily funded by a grant from the African Development Bank, whose shareholders are predominantly African countries. Only 26 of 80 member countries are non-African. Secondly, the bridge not only connects northern and southern Gambia but it also helps Senegalese access to the Southern province of Casamance. Further, the bridge should have been built in the 1970s but the countries were not on good terms. That the bridge was finally built is an indication of the thawed relations and commitment to integration. According to Senegal's President Macky Sall, the bridge is wholly owned by The Gambia and this should come as great news for Gambians worried about control.
The opening of the bridge comes less than a year after the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area in Rwanda. Hopefully, it will benefit the smaller country as much as it benefits Senegal as there have been allegations of Senegalese economic sabotage. In 2018, Senegal decided to stop the transportation of cashew sourced in the Casamance region through Gambia's Banjul and this came after another inhibitive decision in timber trade. There were also allegations of Senegalese efforts to disrupt The Gambia's transit trade by levying unnecessary fees in 2016. It seems like a case of economic bullying which will hopefully have no place in the future of the two countries.
Header Image: AFP