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Monday, June 14, 2021

The Gambia in the eyes of the World Bank group in The Gambia

Momodou Camara (Acca)

The Gambia is a small fragile 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 an opposition coalition. The Parliamentary elections in April 2017 led to a 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:
Ø National Projects
Ø Gambia Electricity Support Project
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
· ECOWAS – Regional Access Electricity Project
· OMVG Interconnection Project
· 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.

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2019
*** These are indicative figures as per the 6th. October, 2019.

*** Market prices are as at 28th. October, 2019
UK to partner with Kenyan Fintech companies to increase financial inclusion
UK announces partnership with Kenyan Fintech companies to use technology to increase financial inclusion for low-income and underserved consumers. The Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Estlin, announced 10 million pounds of UK Aid support towards the Catalyst Fund during a visit to Nairobi. His visit comes ahead of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit next year, which will bring together businesses, governments and international institutions to encourage investment in a range of sectors, including fintech. The Catalyst Fund supports business development and investor opportunities for early stage fintech companies in emerging markets. With support from the UK Department for International Development, the Catalyst Fund will help connect a further 30 local fintech companies with international investors and mentors, including Kenyan fintech companies. Speaking today, during the launch at the Nairobi Garage, the Lord Mayor said: “Today’s announcement highlights the mutual benefits of closer financial co-operation to both the UK and Kenya. By forging partnerships across Africa, the UK’s financial services sector can turbocharge national economies and empower individuals financially, creating thousands of jobs and enriching lives across the continent.” The British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said: “Kenya’s FinTech sector is strong, diverse and growing quickly. The innovators we met today show the future of Kenya’s economic growth and I am proud that the UK is able to support their work, helping create growth, jobs and the achievement of the Global Goals in partnership between our two countries.”

Amolo Ng’weno, CEO of BFA Global who manages the Catalyst Fund, said: “In Kenya, access to digital financial services is no longer the major issue – today we need to work toward ordinary citizens improving their financial health, gaining new access to opportunity and accessing basic services. At BFA, we see a significant opportunity for inclusive fintech startups to play this role. However, in order to succeed, they require early stage capital, partnerships which can enable pathways for scale, and access to a high potential talent pool. Our mission at the Catalyst Fund is to accelerate these startups and strengthen the inclusive fintech ecosystem, and we look forward to working toward this goal with the support of UK Aid.” The Lord Mayor who is in Nairobi for a two-day visit had an opportunity to meet with four fintech innovators that recently graduated from the Catalyst Fund portfolio. Among them; – Daniel Yu, Sokowatch – Ed Magema, Chipper Cash – Ted Pantone, Turaco – Fausto Marcigot, Paygo Energy. The Lord Mayor also announced through the City of London Corporation that five startups under the Catalyst Fund will be selected to attend the Innovate Finance Global Summit, taking place during UK Fintech week in 2020, helping to strengthen the links between UK and African fintech sectors.

1. “Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” By: Bill Gates
2. “We cannot limit ourselves to continuing on the path we have already opened.” By: Amancio Ortega
3. “The best investment you can make is in yourself.” By: Warren Buffet
4. “Live the present intensely and fully, do not let the past be a burden, and let the future be an incentive. Each person forges his or her own destiny.” By: Carlos Slim Helu
5. “Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.” By: Jeff Bezos
6. “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” By: Mark Zuckerberg
7. “Think of it as you want it, not as it is.” By: Larry Ellison
8. “Being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world; seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge.” By: Michael Bloomberg

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