Overview

  • The Gambia is a small and fragile country in West Africa. It stretches 450 km along the Gambia River. Its 10, 689 sq. km area is surrounded by Senegal, except for a 60 km Atlantic Ocean front. The country has a population of 1.9 million. With 176 people per square kilometer, it is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Most of the population (57%) is concentrated around urban and peri-urban centers.

    Political Context

    Presidential elections on December 1, 2016 resulted in a political transition after the incumbent President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, who had led the country for 22 years, was defeated by Adama Barrow, who garnered 43.3% of the vote.

    The Parliamentary elections in April 2017 led to an absolute majority for Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) with 31 seats (not including the five MPs appointed directly by the President) in the 53-seat National Assembly. The former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party was reduced to five seats. In the recent local elections, 62 of the 120 seats went to the UDP and 18 to the APRC.

    Economic Overview

    The Gambia has a small economy that relies primarily on tourism, rain-dependent agriculture, and remittances, and is vulnerable to external shocks. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to be above 3.5% in 2017, propelled by lower interest rates and a rebound in the service sector. The fiscal situation, which deteriorated during the political crisis, has improved due to strengthen fiscal discipline and external support. Expenditure ceilings have helped control expenditures, and domestic revenues have recovered in 2017.

    The macroeconomic framework continues to be characterized by high debt levels, estimated at 123.6% of GDP in 2017, creating significant risks of debt distress. About 40% of the domestic debt is held by domestic banks, which poses risks for the stability of the banking sector.

    The key long-term development challenges facing The Gambia are related to its undiversified economy, small internal market, limited access to resources, lack of skills necessary to build effective institutions, high population growth, lack of private sector job creation, and high rate of outmigration.

    Social Context

    Poverty is widespread and remained stagnant at 48.6% in 2015, compared to 48.1%in 2010. In rural areas, a higher proportion of the population (almost 70%) are poor. International migrants represent 9% of the population, and their remittances provide a safety net for the poor.

    Development Challenges

    A legacy of authoritarianism, weak public institutions, political instability, and the limited capacity of the public administration are the most salient causes of state fragility in the country

    The Gambia’s growing debt and leaves little fiscal space to reinvigorate the economy and ensure inclusive growth, particularly by investing in energy, modernizing agriculture, and providing resources for the poor. Heavy dependence on agriculture, tourism, and a small service sector, coupled with a legacy of unsustainable macro-fiscal management has increased the economy’s sensitivity to external shocks.

    A combination of slow economic growth, limited employment prospects, political instability and food insecurity has driven a dramatic increase in emigration. Gambians are now Europe’s second-largest diaspora as a share of the home-country population. The implications are mixed for fragility and resilience. While the loss of skilled labor has long slowed the country’s economic development, remittance income is an increasingly crucial component of household consumption. 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • World Bank Group Engagement in The Gambia

    Recent World Bank Group engagement with The Gambia was guided by the FY14-17 Second Joint Partnership Strategy (JPS-2), designed and implemented jointly with the African Development Bank (AfDB). The JPS-2 supported two pillars: 1) Enhance productive capacity and competitiveness; and 2) Strengthen institutional capacity for economic governance and public service delivery.

    The new Country Engagement Note for FY18-20 is under preparation and will be presented to Board of Directors in May 2018.

    As of February 2018, The Gambia’s portfolio is composed of five national and three regional projects. The national International Development Association (IDA) portfolio amounts to $85.24 million and includes:

    The Gambia portfolio of regional projects amounts to $51.5 million and consists of:

    In addition, trust funds in amount of $23 million support implementation of the lending operations. The World Bank also conducts analytical work in several sectors, including governance, macroeconomics and fiscal management, social protection, agriculture, information communications technology (ICT) and banking.

    The International Finance Corporation (IFC):

    The IFC strategy in The Gambia is selective and 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. It is also selectively supporting committed and experienced sponsors in priority sectors (tourism, agriculture). As of September 2016, IFC commitments in the Gambia total $5.7 million.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • The World Bank Group continues to contribute to Gambia’s development performance in the following sectors:

    • Emergency budget support to strengthen the government’s fiscal position while restoring the provision of essential public services. The operation provided critical financial resources needed to restore macro-fiscal sustainability while shielding poor and vulnerable households from the impact of the economic crisis.
    • Support to the electricity and energy sector to rehabilitate generation assets, reduce technical and commercial losses in distribution, and improve NAWEC’s operational performance. In addition, assistance was provided to the Government to develop Energy Sector Roadmap that outlines a national plan for recovery in the power sector.
    • Interventions under the ongoing Results for Education Achievement and Development project, funded jointly with the Global Partnership for Education focus on: (i) increasing enrollment in primary and ECD in the poorest areas; (ii) improving the quality of teaching through the reform of teacher training and teacher management; and (iii) improving learning through a phased curriculum overhaul, and high-quality learning materials, with an emphasis on early grade reading.
    • To support the country’s health program, the World Bank Group is working closely with the National Nutrition Agency and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to reprioritize health expenditures, strengthen primary health care, and increase the use of community nutrition and primary maternal and child health services in selected regions of the country. It also helps finance costs associated with social safety net activities.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • The World Bank is collaborating closely with UN, EU and IMF to assist the government with elaboration of the National Development Plan FY2018-2021. In the energy sector, the World Bank is working together with Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Arab Fund for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), EBID (ECOWAS BANK for Investment and Development), European Union (EU), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to support implementation of The Gambia Energy Sector Roadmap.

    The World Bank is also coordinating with UNICEF, EU, UNFPA, WFP and GFATM in the health and nutrition sectors. In the education sector, the Bank collaborates closely with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF. The World Bank is also a leading partner on social protection, together with UNICEF, UNDP and EU. 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

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LENDING

Gambia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
+221-33-859-41-00
For general information and inquiries
Mademba Ndiaye
Senior Communications Officer
Dakar, Senegal
+221-33-859-41-00
mademba@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
gambiaalert@worldbank.org