Country Focus-the 2020 Gambia Budget The World Bank In The Gambia


Momodou Camara (Acca)

The Gambia is a small country in West Africa. Stretching 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 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
Presidential elections in December 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, the presidential candidate of a political coalition. The Parliamentary elections in April 2017 led to an absolute majority for United Democratic Party (UDP) with 31 seats in the 53-seat National Assembly. The former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party was reduced to five seats. In the local elections of May 2018, 62 of the 120 seats went to the UDP and 18 to the APRC. The cabinet was reshuffled in March 2019, as the vice president was removed, along with two other prominent members of the UDP.


Economic Overview
The Gambia’s small economy relies primarily on tourism, rain-dependent agriculture and remittances, and is vulnerable to external shocks. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth was estimated at 6.5% in 2018 (from 4.8% in 2017), driven by strong recovery in tourism, trade and construction, as well as improvements in electricity provision. The agriculture sector witnessed a slight revival in 2018 and grew by 0.9% compared to the sharp contraction of 4.4% in 2017. The number of tourists touched a record high and increased by 26% in 2018 compared to 2017. In the same spell, credit to private sector rebounded strongly – a growth of 32% in 2018 (from 3% in 2017). However, the fiscal situation deteriorated as the fiscal deficit increased to 6.0% in 2018 from 5.3% in 2017, mainly due to lower grant revenues spending overruns on goods and services, and unbudgeted transfers to state-owned enterprises. (Tax revenues, marred by weak tax administration and high discretionary tax exemptions, remained relatively stable at 10.4% of GDP. The macroeconomic framework continues to be characterized by high debt levels. Public debt is estimated to decline by one percentage point, down to 87% of GDP in 2018. Although Interest payments were less than last year, they still accounted for 25% of domestic revenues in 2018, leaving limited fiscal space for public investment and improved service delivery. The key long-term development challenges facing The Gambia are related to its undiversified economy, poor governance framework, small internal market, limited access to resources, lack of skills necessary to build effective institutions, high population growth, and lack of private sector job creation. The Gambia Country Engagement Note FY18-21, focuses on the following objectives: (i) Restoring Macroeconomic Stability and Stimulate Inclusive Growth and; (ii) Investing in Human Capital and Build Assets and Resilience for the Poor. The active portfolio for The Gambia comprises seven national International Development Association (IDA) investment operations for $166.84 million, and three regional IDA operations for $116 million in commitments. International Finance Corporation commitments are $5 million. The details are provided below:
National Projects
Ø Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernization Project
Ø Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project
Ø Commercial Agriculture and Value Chain Management Project
Ø Education Sector Support Project
Ø Integrated Financial Management Information System Project
Ø The Gambia Social Safety Net Project

Regional Projects
Ø ECOWAS – Regional Access Electricity Project
Ø OMVG Interconnection Project
Ø Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project
The World Bank Group continues to contribute to The Gambia’s development performance in the following sectors:
The Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernization Project (GERMP) supports in the energy sector by focusing on: (i) on-grid solar PV; (ii) reduction of technical and commercial losses; and (iii) institutional support. This project is co-financed by the European Union and the European Investment Bank.

The Education Sector Support Program jointly funded by the International Development Association and the Global Partnership for Education focuses on: (i) enhancing access to early childhood development and basic education; (ii) improving quality of teaching and learning and; (iii) technical and institutional support.

To support the country’s health program, the World Bank Group is working closely with the National Nutrition Agency and the Ministry of Health 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. WB is financing a Social Safety Net project which aims (i) to improve coordination in the sector, through the establishment of a Social Protection Secretariat and a Social Registry, with support from other UN agencies; and (ii) to increase coverage of social assistance through the Nafa Program of Cash Transfers and Behavioral Change communications. The International donors pledged $1.5 billion (151% of gross domestic product) to The Gambian government in Brussels conference in May 2018 to support the implementation of The Gambia’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2021. About 55.4% of the commitments came in the form of grants. Besides the World Bank, The Gambia’s largest development partners include the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the Africa Development Bank, and agencies of the United Nations system. Bilateral assistance from China and Turkey are significant. The Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) is also a major player providing short-term revolving funds and other financial support, along with Arab Fund for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA). The World Bank is coordinating with UNICEF, the European Union, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Food Programme and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the health and nutrition sectors. In the education sector, the Bank collaborates closely with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF. In the energy sector, the World Bank is working together with European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB). The World Bank is also a leading partner on social protection, together with UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union.

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2019
*** These are indicative figures as per the 2nd. December, 2019.

*** Market prices are as at 02nd. December, 2019

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