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Overview

  • The Gambia is a small, fragile country in West Africa. Stretching 450 km along the Gambia River, the country  (all 10,689 square kilometers of it) is surrounded by Senegal, except for a 60-km Atlantic Ocean front. The country has a population of 2.1 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 

    The December 2016 presidential election 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, the presidential candidate of a political coalition. 

    Parliamentary elections in April 2017 led to an absolute majority for the United Democratic Party (UDP) with 31 seats in the 58-seat National Assembly. The former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party was reduced to five seats. Local elections in May 2018 resulted in 62 of 120 seats going to the UDP and 18 to the APRC. 

    In December 2019, President Adama Barrow formed a new political party, the National People’s Party, which would allow him to seek a second term in the 2021 elections. A new draft Constitution, which introduces a two-term limit for the presidency, was delivered in November 2019 and is pending approval by the National Assembly and endorsement by the Gambian people through a referendum.  

    Economic Overview 

    Following strong performance under the 2019 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff-Monitored Program , with a sharp reduction in the fiscal deficit, and debt relief from key plurilateral and bilateral creditors, The Gambia has been able to exit from debt distress. This has paved the way for an Enhanced Credit Facility approved by the IMF Board on March 23, 2020. The fiscal deficit has been reduced from 6.2% of GDP in 2018 to 2.6% of GDP in 2019, supported by increased tax revenues and strong donor inflows. Growth has remained robust at around 6% despite the fiscal adjustment and external shocks, including in the tourism sector. International reserves have been brought closer to prudential levels, interest rates have eased, and inflation has remained stable. 

    The global COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have severe socioeconomic consequences. GDP growth is projected to decline to between 2.5 and -2.4% in 2020. Heavily dependent on tourism, The Gambia is mainly impacted by a reduction in tourists, particularly from key markets in Europe, but also from trade disruption and lower commodity prices. Limited fiscal, monetary, and financial buffers and high risk of debt distress limit room to maneuver. Health sector capacity is weak and social safety nets do not exist.  

    The government has taken some steps to protect lives and livelihoods during the relief period with support from development partners. The World Bank is providing support through its $10 million COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, and the IMF through its US$21.2 million Rapid Credit Facility. Moreover, the IMF has approved the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust debt relief ($2.9 million). The European Union has disbursed a $9.7 million budget support grant, while the World Bank Social Safety Net Project has been front loaded with an additional $6 million.  

    The Gambia also seeks debt service deferral under the G20 initiative that could provide between $2.19 million from the creditors already endorsing the initiative to close to $6.68 million if the plurilateral and private creditors endorse the initiative. 

    Last Updated: Jul 14, 2020

  • The Gambia Country Engagement Note covers the period FY18–21 and focuses on two goals: 

    1. Restoring macroeconomic stability and stimulating inclusive growth 

    2. Investing in human capital and building assets and resilience for the poor

    The active portfolio of operations financed by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) comprises seven national projects amounting to $234.24 million, and three regional operations for $125 million in commitments. International Finance Corporation (IFC) commitments total $5 million. The Gambia Systematic Country Diagnostics was presented to the World Bank Board of Directors in May 2020 and will underpin the upcoming Country Partnership Framework for FY21–25. 

    National Projects

    Regional Projects

    COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    Emergency assistance provided through the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project  finances medical equipment, laboratory supplies, personal protective equipment, and ambulances necessary to enhance case detection, tracing, and reporting; upgrade isolation and treatment centers; and improve disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity. Restructuring of the Social Safety Net Project widens the scope of the cash transfers program to help about 60,000 poor households cope with the negative economic effects caused by the pandemic. The Emergency Education COVID-19 Response Project funded by the Global Partnership for Education supports implementation of the country’s Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan, ensures continued access to educational services, and supports safe and resilient learning environments for students returning to schools.

    Last Updated: Jul 14, 2020

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

    Energy 

    Investments under both national and regional energy projects have contributed to increased generation capacity in the Greater Banjul Area, from 25 megawatts (MW) in October 2017 to 80 MW in November 2019, and steady increase in electricity sales at an average rate of 8–10% from 2012 to 2020. The power sector was able to shift from an acute crisis in 2017 to a provider of reliable electricity as system-wide blackouts dropped from 15 to 20 per day to two to three per day. Improved operational performance of NAWEC, the national water and electricity company, led to a reduction in transmission and distribution losses from 28% in 2015 to 19% in 2019. 

    Public Finance, Governance and State-Owned Enterprises

    The Integrated Financial Management Information System project supports improvements in public resource management. The central government budget for fiscal year 2020 was prepared using a Comprehensive Budget Module System introduced through the project. The operation also helps advance reforms for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), with  technical assistance in drafting the SOE Bill and performing a special audit of major SOEs. The project has helped pave the way for the design of an action plan to improve SOEs’ performance and governance and reduce fiscal risk. 

    Health and Nutrition

    The Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project has contributed to better use of health services and quality of care thanks to results-based financing activities. As of September 30, 2019, more than 115,800 childbirth deliveries were attended by skilled health personnel. In addition, over 59,800 pregnant women received their first antenatal care in the first trimester, 25 times more women than at the beginning of the intervention.  

    Last Updated: Jul 14, 2020

  • In addition to the World Bank, The Gambia’s largest development partners include the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and United Nations agencies. Bilateral assistance from China and Turkey is significant. The Islamic Development Bank is also a major player, providing short-term revolving funds and other financial support along with the Arab Fund for Economic Development in Africa. The International Fund for Agricultural Development  supports the agriculture sector. 

    In the health and nutrition sectors, the World Bank coordinates with UNICEF, the European Union, the UN Population Fund, the World Food Program, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In the education sector, the World Bank collaborates closely with the Global Partnership for Education and UNICEF. In the energy sector, the World Bank is working together with European Commission, and European Investment Bank. The World Bank is also a leading partner on social protection, together with UNICEF, the UNDP, and the European Union.

    Last Updated: Jul 14, 2020

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
+220-44-980-89
For general information and inquiries
Haddija Jawara
External Affairs Consultant
Banjul, Gambia
hjawara1@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
gambiaalert@worldbank.org