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THE BIG READ: Introducing Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, Gambia‘s New Information Minister

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay is the new Minister of Information for the Republic of The Gambia. Until his appointment, he was a Senior Lecturer and the head of Political Science department at the University of The Gambia (UTG), where he taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses since 2010. He is the founder and former director of the MSc program in International Relations and Diplomacy at University of The Gambia. He has taught many courses in this program and supervised the Masters dissertation of many students.

In 2013, he carried out extensive ethnographic research in The Gambia on youth, migration and livelihoods. He was an Erasmus+ visiting Professor at VUB University in Brussels, Belgium and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2023, he was appointed visiting professor in foreign languages at the Zhejiang Normal University China.

Dr. Ceesay’s research interests include African politics, information and communications technology and the intersection of security and youth issues. He has authored numerous articles on these topics in peer reviewed journals and other esteemed publications such as ‘African Renaissance’, ‘African Foreign Affairs’ and the ‘African Election Series’ of the London School of Economics. Dr. Ceesay has led many international research projects as a consultant. In 2019 he was engaged as lead consultant for the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa’ project (EUTF for Africa) by Altai Consulting. He was also engaged as Consultant by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) as a researcher within the research project “The Impact of Security Force Assistance on State Fragility (SFAssist)”. In 2018, he co-led the Round 8 Afrobarometer perception survey in The Gambia.

Dr. Ceesay is also serving as a Country Expert for The Gambia for Varieties of Democracy (V- Dem). He has earlier worked with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science to implement the Scottish Funding Council funded project ‘Environmental activism and political transition in The Gambia’. He is also working with The Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel to implement the EU Funded H2020 project on migration participating as a member of the scientific board in the project proposal entitled “Bridges to assess the production and impact of migration narratives” (BRIDGES).

From 2006 to 2008, he was President of the Organisation of Gambians in Stockholm (OGIS) and President of the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA) from 2017-2019. Dr. Ceesay is also the initiator and founding member of the Citizens Alliance (CA), a new political party in The Gambia. In 2017, he was awarded Outstanding Lecturer of the Year by the UTG Students’ Union and in 2019 he was awarded Most Influential Young Persons in West Africa by the Confederation of West African Youths in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Ceesay was previously awarded the prestigious “Pan-African Humanitarian Award for Excellence in Social Leadership and Community Impact” by the Pan African Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (PALEDEC) in partnership in 2018 as well. In 2020, Dr. Ceesay was nominated for the Award of Eminent Peace Ambassador by the International Association of World Peace Advocates, (IAWPA), a global non-governmental organisation affiliated to the United Nations Global Compact.

Dr. Ceesay holds an MSc and a PhD in African Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a BSc from Stockholms University, Sweden. Born and raised in Kombo Brikama, he did his basic education at Brikama Primary School and secondary education at Albert Academy Secondary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He speaks diverse languages such as English, Swedish, Mandinka, Wolof & Aku.

Reforms at the Ministry of Information:

Since his appointment as Information Minister in March this year, Dr. Ceesay has taken new intiatives in addition to the already existing development policy, agenda and approach to bridge the communication gap between the government of President Barrow and the general public. He is engaging media houses and has an open door policy to clarify information as well as give accurate information to the public regarding development projects embarked upon by the government and other issues of national concern.

His latest initiative is the introduction of the Ministerial Townhall dubbed Mansa Kunda. This is a new programme designed to create interactive sessions between cabinet ministers and the general public,where issues of national development will be discussed.

Sports:

Just like the famous proverb:“all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy“, Dr. Ceesay also creates time for sports. He plays good football and is a football fan as well.

Below is a summary of his educational background, achievements and employment career.

Education

✓ (2011 – 2016) University of Edinburgh,

Scotland PhD. African Studies

✓ (2008 – 2009) University of Edinburgh,

Scotland MSc. African Studies

✓ (2003 – 2007) Stockholm University

Sweden BSc. Political Science

Professional Training

5 th February – 17th February 2024– Underwent Migration Management Course at The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Accra, Ghana.

19th May – 1 st June 2023- Attended and participated in a seminar on “Chinese

Modernization and African Development” at Zhejiang Normal University (Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province, the People’s Republic of China).

23rd January -27th January, 2023- Underwent a teacher training course on

‘INNOVATIVE TEACHING METHODS’ at the Plus Project European Academy in Malaga, Spain.

19th December-23rd December, 2022- Underwent a training on ‘EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR INNOVATIVE RESEARCH, TEACHING AND LEARNING’ at the Pan-African Doctoral Academy, University of Ghana, Legon.

12th December-16th December, 2022– Underwent a training on ‘PRESENTATION SKILLS (INCLUDING ORAL AND POSTER CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS)’ at the Pan-African Doctoral Academy, University of Ghana, Legon.

30th May – 3rd June, 2022- UNDERWENT A TRAINING ON ‘QUALITATIVE

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND USE OF NVIVO FOR ANALYSIS’ at the PanAfrican Doctoral Academy, University of Ghana, Legon.

6th June – 10th June 2022- Underwent a training on ‘GRANT WRITING AND

RESEARCH PROJECT MANAGEMENT’ at the Pan-African Doctoral Academy, University of Ghana, Legon.

Work Experience

June 2023 -Ongoing: Appointed Part Time Professor by the College of Foreign Languages at the  Zhejiang Normal University, China.

February 2022-Ongoing: Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GloCal Consulting Gambia LTD, a consultancy and advisory agency established to support development, projects and public policies in Africa, amongst other things. Their main partners include international organizations, cooperation agencies, NGOs and National authorities. They conduct research, studies, evaluations, project implementation and capacity building on migration, conflict prevention and resolution, democratic institutions, elections and democratic processes.

January 2010- Ongoing: Senior Lecturer of Political Science and Head of the Political Science Department, University of The Gambia. As senior Lecturer, Dr Ceesay does research and mostly teaches undergraduate Political Science and Social Research Methods courses.

September 2018- Ongoing: Director of the MSc Program in International Relations and Diplomacy where he also convenes the following courses:

✓ Advanced International Relations Theories

✓ International Organizations

✓ Contemporary Security Studies

✓ Diplomatic Protocol and International Negotiations

November 2019- 2020: Appointed as Acting Director of Student Affairs. His role was to help evaluate programs to enhance student experience and to plan and arrange social, cultural, and recreational activities for the students according to university policies and regulations.

February 2020: Served as Erasmus+ visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.

November 2019: Served as Erasmus+ visiting Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brusse (VUB), Brussels, Belgium.

June 2012 to November 2018: Freelance Translator/ Interpreter and Consultant for Global Language Services, Edinburgh, Scotland. He provided Translation and Interpreting services in the following Languages:

✓ English

✓ Swedish

✓ Mandinka

✓ Wollof

✓ Aku

Research/Project Experience

11th May 2023-11th June 2023: Dr. Ceesay carried out CONSULTANCY CONTRACT Service as Field researcher/enumerator on behalf of Ravenstone Consult Ltd. The research was aimed at collecting evidence that allows for a better understanding of the relationship between climate change, adaptation and mobility in selected areas and specific groups of people in The Gambia.

10-11th November 2022: He organised a workshop on ‘Return Migration and Gender: Assessing the Gender Responsiveness of Return and Reintegration Programmes of Migrants in West Africa’. This was done in Partnership with University of the Gambia and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and Supported by The Heinrich Boll Foundation at the African Princess Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia.

June 2022 to July 2022: Conducted research as lead consultant on behalf of Altai Consulting on skills development and job creation mapping in the Gambia. The research focused on the existing mechanisms that could contribute to the reintegration of migrants (who voluntarily returned to The Gambia from other parts of the sub-region). More specifically, the mapping focused on the relevant stakeholders in the private and public sector at the national and international level as well as active employment, TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) and entrepreneurship programs. The objective of the research was to identify referral opportunities and/or partnerships that could be established by the EU for future programs supporting the reintegration of migrants to their countries of origin.

June 2021: Worked as lead consultant for ALTAI Consulting where he carried an assessment to highlight key gaps and areas of opportunity for future migration governance support that could be provided by the EU to The Gambia.

January 2021: Engaged by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science in implementing the Scottish Funding Council funded project ‘Environmental activism and political transition in The Gambia’.

February 2021 to Ongoing: Engaged by The Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel as a consultant and a member of the scientific board in the project entitled “Bridges to assess the production and impact of migration narratives” (BRIDGES) and to support the research of BRIDGES entitled “The impact of narratives in potential migrants’ decisions in Africa.

June 2020 to September 2020: Engaged by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) to conduct research to document the impact of COVID-19 on the operations of CSOs in The Gambia and strengthen their technological capacities to become more resilient and responsive.

November 2020 to December 2020: Engaged as lead consultant for the third cycle of the project: ‘The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa’ (EUTF for Africa) by Altai Consulting.

March 2020 to April 2020: Engaged as lead consultant for the second cycle of the project: ‘The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa’ (EUTF for Africa) by Altai Consulting.

October 2019 to February 2020: Worked as a consultant researcher for the United Nations Development Programme through the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies (CepRass) and conducted a national survey on the tropic “Never Again: A Population based study on knowledge and attitudes about justice, peace and social healing in The Gambia”

September to October 2019: Engaged as lead consultant for the first cycle of the project: ‘The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced Persons in Africa’ (EUTF for Africa) by Altai Consulting.

August to November 2019: Engaged as Consultant for the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) within the research project “The Impact of Security Force Assistance on State Fragility (SFAssist)”

July to November 2018: Engaged as Co-Lead investigator for the Round 8 Afrobarometer perception survey in the Gambia.

September 2013-December 2014: Carried out extensive ethnographic PhD research in the Gambia on youth, migration and livelihoods.

Publications

Ceesay, I and Njie. E (2023). The Gambia: A Recent History. In Africa South of The

Sahara. London, Routledge.

Ceesay, I. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Civil Society Organizations In The Gambia. Resaerch Commissioned by: West Africa Civil Society Institute:

https://wacsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Impact-of-COVID-19-on-CSOs-in-TheGambia.pdf

Dwyer, M. and Ceesay I (2019). The Gambia’s President Said he’d Step Down After Three Years. Will he? In Africanarguments, December 12, 2019.

https://africanarguments.org/2019/12/12/the-gambia-president-barrow-three-years-jotna

Ceesay, I (2018). Dismantling Dictatorship: Gambia’s Transition to Democracy. In West African Insights. Vol. 6, No. 4. https://cddelibrary.org/content/uploads/2018/10/New Leaders-New-Direction-Vol-6.-No-4_2018.pdf.

Ceesay, I. (2017). “Youth Candidacy in the 2017 National Assembly Elections in The Gambia‟. YIAGA Report.

Ceesay, I. (2017). The “Love‟ and “Deception‟ Methods: The Strategies of Chanters. Journal of African Foreign Affairs (JoAFA) Volume 3, Numbers 1 & 2, pp 45-67.

Ceesay, I (2017). “Gambia Continues to Defy Existing Political Norms on the African continent. “African Election Series, London School of Economics. Accessed:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2016/12/06/gambia-continues-to-defy-existing-politicalnorms-on-the-african-continent/

Ceesay, I. (2016). The Gambia: Issues and Choices. Guest Editor. African Renaissance. Vol.13, NOS. 1&2), March/June 2016.

Ceesay, I. (2016). “We align and rhythm the toubabs”: The Strategies of Beach Hustlers. African Renaissance. Volume 13, Numbers 1 & 2. Pp 45-73.

Ceesay, I. (2016). Public Access to ICTs in The Gambia: The Case of Cybercafés. African Renaissance. Volume 13, Numbers 1 & 2. pp 75 – 99.Graduate CV template by reed.co.uk

Book Reviews

Gomez, P. (2017). The Long Road to Democracy in The Gambia (2017). Book Review. Conference/Seminar/Workshop Papers

February-March 2024: Participated in a Forum Under the theme of “China-Africa Practice: Building a Community with a Shared Future”, In Dares Salaam, Tanzania.

May-June 2022: Participated in a training on Qualitative Research Analysis using NVivo and Proposal Writing and Project Management at the University of Ghana, Legon.

December 2019: Attended and participated in the 19th Doha International Forum in Qatar, Doha. The theme of the forum was ‘Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World’.

November 2019: Attended and Participated in the 2nd Nordic Gambian Investment Forum in Oslo, Norway and Delivered a talk on the topic ‘The Importance of Political Stability on Diaspora Investment’.

November 2019: Attended and participated in the 8th Annual Conference of the Inter-African Committee in Oslo, Norway and delivered a paper on ‘The Role of Education in the Elimination of Toxic Masculinity’.

November 2019: Attended and participated in the Third OIC Member States Mediation Conference in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme of the conference was: Exploring Approaches to Effective Mediation: The Role of Culturally Sensitive Mediation.

October 2019: Attended and participated in the 4th Istanbul Mediation Conference in Istanbul, Turkey under the theme: International Peace Mediation: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead (with the participation of the UNSG and his high-level advisory board on mediation).

October 2019: Participated in the ERASMUS+ Staff Mobility for Teaching and Training. Dr. Ceesay was hosted at Vrije University Brussels (VUB) in Belgium and taught a one-week course on ‘Research Methodology: Doing Research in Africa’ and delivered a seminar paper on the topic: ‘Migration Aspirations: Strategies of Young Africans in a State of ‘Involuntary Immobility’.

September 2019: Attended and Participated in the 7th International Consortium Conference themed ‘Harnessing Africa’s Potentials in Science Technology and Humanities for Sustainable Development’ Held at the University of Calabar, Nigeria.

August 2019: Served as subject matter expert in the National Consultation Workshop on the Security Sector Reform Strategy in The Gambia organized by the Office of the President.

March 2019: Attended the project preparatory workshop on Citizens Control of Public Security Action in the Senegalese Region held in Dakar.

March 2018: Attended and Participated in a Workshop on Diagnosis of Security Challenges Common to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal in Dakar organized by WANEP –Senegal in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Peace and Security Centre of Competence.

March 2018: Participated as country expert panellist in a workshop on „Sustaining Peace in Practice: Evidence, Measurement, and Indicators‟ at the International Peace Institute in New York, USA.

October 29 to November 1, 2017: Attended the International u6 Conference at Kwara State University, Nigeria. He presented a paper on: Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in The Gambia.

October 29- November 1. 2017: Represented the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia at the U6 Vice Chancellors meeting in Nigeria.

October 27, 2017: Dr Ceesay organized and participated in a Public Symposium on Transitional Justice in The Gambia. He presented a paper on: Transitional Justice in The Gambia: Lessons from Outside.

October 9, 2017: Organized and held a workshop on research design for the University of The Gambia Students Union.

October 5, 2017: Presented a paper for Education Students Association of the University of The Gambia on world teacher’s day. Title of paper: Empowering Teachers.

September 2017: Selected to volunteer as a Leadership Clinician for a Youth

Leadership Clinic for young people in The Gambia. The Leadership Clinic is a global centre for leadership problem diagnostic and treatment. This group helped to identify leaders, support leaders who are in crisis and not performing to their norm, help leaders with their personal strategic development, coach and train leaders in effective leadership behaviour and help advocacy organizations realize their objectives.

May 2017: The Role of the University of The Gambia in the Advancement of Education for a Better Gambia’. Paper presented at the Education Symposium organized by the University of The Gambia Education Students Association (EDUSA) at The Gambia College Main Hall.

May 2017: The Role of Youth in Nation Building’. Invited as Chief Speaker to give a Speech on the above caption by the Assembly of Youths Development Association in Tallinding Kunjang, KMC, The Gambia.

April 2017: Leadership: Models, Theories and Exercises’. A paper delivered at a workshop organized by the University of The Gambia (UTG) Leadership Fellowship at the UTG Faculty of Law.

February 2017: Young People and Political Participation in The Gambia’. Paper Presented for the Social Science Club, Kotu Senior Secondary School on Political Participation at the Kotu Senior Secondary School.

October 2016: Preventing the Prospect of Electoral Violence: The Role of Young People in Championing a Peaceful Election (2016). Paper Presentation for „THE LEGACY‟ Organization on Preventing Electoral Violence at the American Corner, Bundung

September 2016: Deconstructing the Process of Academic Writing: Ideas and Tools for Writing Essays, Preparing Research Designs and Avoiding Plagiarism’. A paper presented at the School of Arts and Sciences seminar series, The University of The Gambia at the Brikama College Auditorium.

January 2016: The ‘Hustler’-Cum-Ethnographer: Experiences of Doing Field Research ‘At Home’. Paper Presented at the Centre of African Studies (CAS), University of Edinburgh.

March 2015: Took part at the 16th Annual Researching Africa Day Workshop and presented a paper titled: „Youths in the Cybercafés as Welfare Providers’ at St Antony’s College, Oxford University. Oxford.

May 2011: ‘The Forgotten Vanguards of African Liberation’. A paper Delivered on the Closing Workshop on African-Venezuelan Dance and African Culture Marking African Liberation Celebrations, University of The Gambia.

June 2011: ‘The Role of UTG in Instilling Values of Community Service and Responsible Citizenship’. Paper Presented at the Fifth Anniversary of Francis Degaulle Njie Foundation at the Father Farrell Memorial Hall, Serrekunda.

Supervision

Previous Students:

Manyima Bojang: ‘Responsibility to Protect vis-à-vis Resolution 1973 in Libya: Was it a Legal or Illegal Undertaking?’

Aisata Bojang: TBA

Andrew Silver: ‘The European Union (EU)’s intervention strategy on tackling of irregular migration in the Gambia: 2017-2019’

Mariama Krubally: ‘An impact assessment of the Dragon in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Selected African Countries: Sudan and Liberia’.

Felix Omotosho: ‘An assessment of the Role of International Governmental Organizations/Agencies (IGOS) in Fostering Social Protection in The Gambia: 2014-2018’

Ratri Buda Nugrahanti: ‘Evaluation of Student Information System and Decision Making at The University of The Gambia’.

Extra-Curricular Activities

January 2017 to Date: Serves as Country Expert for The Gambia for Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem).

November 2019: Participated and facilitated the Civil Society Retreat on the Review Of Draft Constitution of The Gambia.

March 2019: Participated in an international conference as a panellist on the theme:

“TransitionalJustice in The Gambia: Experiences, Design and Processes “at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul, organised by Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in the UK, in collaboration with The Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations(Victims Centre) and funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund.

March 2019: Short term election observer in Nigeria Gubernatorial Elections for the International Republican Institute (IRI)

November 2018: Participated in the visitor’s program of the Federal Republic of Germany on Capacity Development and Good Governance in Developing Societies.

October 2018: Attended IFIT’s Global Retreat in Barcelona, Spain

April and June 2018: Short term election observer and monitoring in The Gambia: observed polling process including opening, voting, closing and counting.

June 2018: Attended the Institute for Integrated Transitions‟ (IFIT) Global Strategy Meeting in Barcelona.

October 2017: Invited to serve as an inaugural member of The “Gambia Transition Brain Trust”, an initiative designed to contribute to the country’s successful democratic transition.

November 2017: Founder and Coordinator for the Young Citizens for Development Youth Organization in The Gambia.

March 2017: Participated as a special guest at the University of The Gambia UNESCO CLUB PEACE RUN.

December 2016: Participated and Coordinated the UTG Cohort of Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism (P2P in Collaboration with the US State Department, EDventure and Facebook.

2015 – date: Coordinates the UTG-SAS weekly seminar series.

Honours & Awards

March 2019: Awarded Most Influential Young Person of the Year 2019.

Award conferred in Freetown, Sierra Leone by the Confederation of West African Youths.

November 2018: Won the Pan-African Humanitarian Award for Excellence in Social Leadership and Community Impact.

Award conferred in Rabat, Morocco by the Pan African Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (PALEDEC) in partnership with the International Centre for Diplomacy.

October 2018: Won a Special Recognition Award.

Award conferred by the ‘People’s Choice Awards for Excellence’ in appreciation for significant impact on the socio-political life of the nation as well as courageous advocacy for good governance and the rule of law in The Gambia.

August 2018: Listed amongst the 100 Most Influential Young Persons in West Africa by the Confederation of West African Youths.

August 2017: Awarded Outstanding Lecturer of the Year by the University of The Gambia Students Union.

Leadership Experiences

(2016 – 2019) President of the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA)

(2016 – 2019) President of The Gambian Organization in Stockholm (OGIS), Sweden

Skills

• A Team player with excellent interpersonal, communication, organizational skills.

• An excellent communicator in dealing with People from all backgrounds

• Leadership and motivation

• Good working knowledge of the Media, Public Relations and Marketing.

• The ability to see things from critical points of views and this enhances my analytical and problem-solving skills.

• Significant Research Skills

• Comprehensive understanding and awareness of national and international Politics and Current Affairs.

• Highly adaptable and familiar with adjusting to new environments and working abroad.

Speaks diverse languages such as English, Swedish, Mandinka, Wolof & Aku

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