The Gambia is a small, fragile country in West Africa. Stretching 450 km along the Gambia River, the country (10,689 square kilometers) is surrounded by Senegal, except for a 60-km Atlantic Ocean front. The country has a population of 2.5 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.
The Gambia is a multiparty republic. Under the 1997 constitution, the President is the head of state and government, and is elected by universal suffrage to a five-year term. The 2016 Presidential Election led to the end of the autocratic rule of former President Yahya Jammeh, who was in power from 1994 to 2017.
In 2018 the government established the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to lay the ground for reconciliation in the country, restore trust and overcome the trauma of human rights violations. The TRRC final was disclosed in December 2021, with the government expected to present a white paper recommendation to the National Assembly within six months.
The recent presidential elections took place on December 4, 2021. The incumbent President Adama Barrow was declared the winner by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) with 53.2 % of the vote and was inaugurated for a second term on January 19, 2022.
Growth was robust at 6.2 % in 2019, supported by improving confidence and record tourist arrivals, with sound macroeconomic management helping to reduce the fiscal deficit, exit from debt distress, and increased international reserves closer to prudential levels.
The COVID-19 crisis resulted in a deceleration of growth to 0.6 % in 2020 (a contraction of income per capita by 2.3 %), reversing gains in poverty reduction. The economy, driven by strong activity in tourism and construction, which boosted services and industry, and favorable weather, which fostered agriculture, rebounded to 4.3 % (1.3% in per capita terms) in 2021. As a result of economic recovery, the share of Gambians living below the international poverty line of $2.15 (in 2017 PPPs) declined from 11.7 percent in 2020 to 11.1 percent in 2021, equivalent to more than 8,000 people lifted out of extreme poverty. The fiscal deficit more than doubled in 2021 to 4.6 percent of GDP (a primary deficit of 1.6 percent of GDP) from 2.2 percent of GDP in 2020 by lower grant financing as development partners unwound the financial support provided in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public debt to GDP maintained its downward trend, estimated at 83.8 percent of GDP in 2021—2.1 percentage points below its 2020 level. Still, the risk of overall and external debt distress remains high as per the latest joint WB/IMF Debt Sustainability Analysis (June 2022). The average inflation reached 7.4 percent in 2021 driven by food inflation, up from 5.9 percent in 2020, and above the Central Bank’s medium target of 5 percent.
The Gambian’s economy is set to decelerate in 2022 due to high commodity and fertilizer prices, and supply disruptions due to the war in Ukraine, and ongoing floods. Inflation reached 12.3 percent (year-on-year) in July 2022 – its highest level in the last three decades.
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2022