After weeks of utter reticence, The Gambia government has finally confirmed that it was deferring its hosting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit from later this year to 2022.Banjul, one of Africa’s smallest capitals, was picked to host the 2019 event during the 13th summit in Turkey in 2016.
Tuesday’s announcement puts to rest weeks of speculation about Gambia’s level of preparedness ahead of hosting the flagship summit of heads of state of mainly Muslim countries around the world.
By virtue of the deferral, hosting the summit falls on Saudi Arabia, the seat of the OIC.
According to a statement from State House, Banjul’s decision to defer its hosting of the summit followed a series of consultations with other African countries over the lack of adequate time to build the required infrastructure imperative to successfully hosting this year’s summit.
The government had conceded that the proposed five-star hotel, a conference centre to host the summit and a dual carriageway will not be ready in time for the occasion.
There is a perceived deficit in quality accommodation for the 1000 delegates envisaged for the OIC summit.
With a view to preparing for the summit, the government established a national O.I.C. Secretariat last year tasked with overseeing its successful hosting, including mobilizing resources to that effect.
“Given these huge tasks against the limited time factor, it became apparent that the country’s ability to host the summit this year seems distant” a statement by State House said.
This is the not the first time hosting the OIC summit had been deferred to allow host countries to adequately prepare for it.
Countries that have deferred the summit in the past include Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
The OIC, the second largest intergovernmental organization with a membership of 57 countries, hold such summits once every three years, reputed as the biggest collection of leaders from the Islamic Ummah.