The Gambia is the smallest country on the African mainland. It stretches 450 km along the Gambia River. Its 11,285 sq. km area is surrounded by Senegal, except for a 60 km Atlantic Ocean front. Although small in size, The Gambia harbors a wealth of land, coastal, marine and wetland habitats and species of local, national, regional and global significance, making it an attractive tourist destination. Due to its unique geographic location it is also a hub for trade in the region.
The country has a population of 1.8 million with a fairly high rate of 2.8% per year over the last decade. Most of the population (57%) is concentrated around urban and peri-urban centers. The main languages are English, Mandinka, Wolof, Jola and Fula, and 90% of Gambians are Muslim. The Gambia has maintained a reputation of relative stability and peace, although its sub-region has been marked by recurring instability and conflict.
The Gambia is a presidential republic with a unicameral legislature. The incumbent President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, who originally took office in a bloodless coup in 1994, was re-elected for a fourth term, with 72% of the vote, on November 24, 2011. Parliamentary elections took place on March 29, 2012, with the President’s party (the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, or APRC) maintaining its sizeable majority. The Gambia has maintained a reputation of relative stability and peace, although its sub-region has been marked by recurring instability and conflict.
The Gambia is facing serious challenges in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to the World Development Indicators database, the poverty reduction goal at the poverty line of $1.25 has been achieved. In terms of human development, the country has achieved the MDGs related to gender parity in primary and secondary education, and to improved access to water sources. Progress towards all other MDGs is off-target. The MDGs related to primary school completion rates (even though considerable progress has been made), infant and child mortality, measles vaccination and births not attended by skilled staff are seriously off-target, and will not be reached any time soon if current policies are continued and donor support is maintained at current levels.
The country has had strong economic performance in recent years with average annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6-7% during 2008-2010. But it has since dropped to 5.3% in 2012 and is projected to accelerate to 6.4%. The Gambia benefitted from considerable multilateral debt relief after reaching the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Completion Point in December 2007, with total debt outstanding as a ratio to GDP declining from 143.2% in 2006 (pre-HIPC) to 55.1% in 2008; although it increased again to 68.4 percent in 2011 . Effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 were tempered by good agricultural outputs in the same period, and by increased tourism receipts. Overall poverty rates declined from 58% in 2003 to 48.4% in 2010, and education coverage and quality improved. Progress was made in the areas of public sector, economic and fiscal management, civil service and justice reform, anti-corruption and public procurement reform. Recent data show modest developments in health, notably on HIV/AIDS prevalence (which remains stable) and maternal mortality (which declined considerably). The government is committed to consolidating these achievements while creating space for continued funding of poverty reduction programs.
As a small, open economy, however, the country remains highly vulnerable to external shocks given its relatively undiversified economic base.It faces three main challenges:
Restoring growth and macroeconomic stability. This will require diversification of the economy and an improved private sector investment climate.
Improving service delivery, through effective civil service reform including improved management capacity for strategic planning, performance measurement, and institutional coordination, collaboration and dialogue.
Improving transparency and accountability in public financial management and public procurement. In particular, improving the demand side of public financial management by disseminating information to the public and creating a culture of accountability and citizen participation.
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013
Historical Perspective on Collaboration of The Gambia with The World Bank:
The Gambia joined the World Bank in October 1967, two years after independence. The first loan financed the rehabilitation of the Bathurst (Now: Banjul) port. Since then, the International Development Association (IDA) has approved 42 projects for The Gambia amounting to about $377 million. IDA-16 allocation, covering fiscal years 2012 to 2014, is SDR 26.4 million (about $42.5 million equivalent, is more than double the amount for IDA-15), in addition to debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Current World Bank Assistance to The Gambia:
The new second AfDB/WB Joint Partnership Strategy (JPS-2) for FY13-FY16 was discussed by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on April 4, 2013 - in support of the government’s 2012-15 Program for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and proposes to respond to the challenges of the country by concentrating on two main pillars:
Pillar 1: Enhancing Productive Capacity and Competitiveness in order to strengthen resilience to External Shocks.This pillar isaligned with elements of PAGE pillars I (Economic Growth), II (Infrastructure) and IV (Governance).
Pillar 2: Strengthening the Institutional Capacity for Economic Governance and Public Service Delivery is aligned with elements of PAGE pillars III (Human Capital, Social Services), IV (Governance) and V (Social Cohesion, Cross-cutting interventions).
The new Joint Strategy will be implemented jointly by the AfDB and the WBG to better harmonize the two institutions’ assistance to The Gambia in line with the 2011 Busan Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. It will build on the achievements of the first Joint Assistance Strategy (JAS-1) for 2008-11.
The current IDA portfolio comprises five active operations (including two regional projects), representing a total commitment of $72.75 million. The IDA portfolio is complemented by trust fund resources totaling about $7 million.The areas of engagement include agriculture, education, public financial management, private sector development for growth and competitiveness, regional communications and infrastructure. In addition,several trust fund grants cover operations to increase agricultural production, strengthen basic education, and provide support towards improving the nutrition of, specifically, disadvantaged women and children, environmental protection and civil service reform. The World Bank is also providing technical assistance on good governance with the strengthening of the Gambia’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) rating as the entry point for dialogue in this area.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC)
The IFC strategy in The Gambia is selectiveand is focused on
enhancing the capacity of local financial institutions (through advisory services and financing) to improve access to finance of potential Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) clients, and
Selectively supporting committed and experienced sponsors in priority sectors (tourism, agriculture). IFC’s outstanding committed amount as of June 30, 2012 is $8.5 million.
The Multilateral Investment GuaranteeMIGA:
MIGA has not yet issued coverage for any investments in The Gambia.
Last Updated: Oct 01, 2013
The Integrated Financial Management Information System Project (IFMIS) is a showcase for other countries in the region. It builds on the initial introduction of the integrated financial management system under the country’s preceding Capacity Building for Economic Management Project (CBEMP). The IFMIS is an enterprise resource planning software application that bundles budget preparation, budget execution, accounting, payroll, financial management and reporting activities. In the first phase supported by the CBEMP, there was the set-up of the system which was accompanied by organizational restructuring, re-engineering of operational procedures and extensive training of staff. The system is now processing all central government transactions and producing the annual accounts and monthly fiscal reports in a timely manner. IFMIS has also helped reduce the substantial backlog of annual audits dating back to the early 1990s.
In this second phase, IFMIS has been rolled out to 39 additional government ministries and agencies, and is expected to be rolled out to the Central Bank later this year, which will enable sectoral resources to be better managed. The project also aims at ensuring that the government will be able to operate and maintain on its own the IFMIS beyond the duration of the project.
Under the Third Education Sector Project, the World Bank Group has supported The Gambian government in making exemplary progress on increasing the coverage of basic education. As part of a broader program financed by the government, donor partners (specifically DFID and Japan), and by the Education for All-Fast Track Initiative, the project has delivered strong results:
Unqualified teachers are being offered opportunities to become qualified, managers across the system (at central, regional and cluster/school levels) and are being offered training opportunities to improve their performance
Performance management systems and service level contracts are now in place to recognize good work and increase accountability, and
Learning assessments are enabling the education system to accurately measure the gains across multiple years
Teaching materials continue to be made available in all core subjects to all students in lower basic education, and teachers are receiving visits from cluster monitors at least twice (and sometimes four times) a month. Increasingly, these visits are providing pedagogic support to teachers and school heads.
Overall, combined donor support has contributed to an increase in the primary gross enrollment rate from 65% in 2000 to 92% in 2009, including madrassa enrollment. The success at the primary level has however increased pressures to extend opportunities at the secondary and tertiary levels for primary and secondary school graduates, as well as the need to upgrade the quality of teaching at these levels. The government is endeavoring to meet these demands and has turned to the Bank for support via additional financing to the on-going Third Education Sector Project, which would focus on higher education.
Last Updated: Oct 01, 2013
The government has been working with several development partners over the years. Apart from IDA, the country's largest development partners are the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Kingdom (DFID), and agencies of the United Nations family. Efforts are being made to harmonize development assistance in The Gambia. In this perspective, the World Bank prepared a Joint Assistance Strategy (JAS) together with the African Development Bank in 2008, with an estimated envelope of $18 million (IDA) and about $10 million (AfDB).