Economy of the Gambia

The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources, and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and animal hides.

Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on foreign aid, and on responsible government economic management as forwarded by International Monetary Fund technical help and advice.

Economy of The Gambia
Georgetown tourist boat
Bird-watching tourists in the Gambia
1 July – 30 June
Trade organisations
AU and WTO
GDP$1.040 billion (2010 est.)
GDP growth
4.3% (2015), 2.2% (2016),
3.5% (2017e), 5.4% (2018f) [1]
GDP per capita
$1,700 (2016 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 33%, industry: 8.7%, services: 58.3% (2008 est.)
6% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line
61.3 (2003 est.)
50.2 (1998)
Labour force
Labour force by occupation
agriculture 75%, industry, commerce, and services 19%, government 6%
Average gross salary
$0.57 per man-hour (2009)
Main industries
processing peanuts, fish, and hides; tourism; beverages; agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking; clothing
145th (2017)[2]
Exports$132 million (f.o.b., 1998)
Export goods
peanuts and peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels.
Main export partners
 China 57%
 India 23.2% (2013 est.)[3]
Imports$201 million (f.o.b., 1998)
Import goods
foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment.
Main import partners
 China 30.3%
 Senegal 9.1%
 Brazil 8.2%
 India 6.7% (2013 est.)[4]
FDI stock
N/A (2011)
$430 million (1997 est.)
Public finances
120% of GDP (2017)
RevenuesD3.8 billion (2009)
Expenses$D733.6 million (2011)
Economic aid$45.4 million (1995)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
Pipe extrusion line
The pipe extrusion plant
Smoking fish
Fish smoking business
Tyre shop worker1
Tyre shop

Economic history

Current GDP per capita of the Gambia registered a peak growth of 23.3% in the 1970s. Economic growth slowed by 8.30% in the 1980s and a further 5.20% in the 1990s.

Re-export trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 made Senegalese goods more competitive and hurt the re-export trade. The Gambia has benefited from a rebound in tourism after its decline in response to the military's takeover in July 1994.

Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Gambia at market prices estimated[5] by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Dalasi (currency used in Gambia).

Year Gross Domestic Product US dollar exchange Inflation index (2000=100)
1980 435 1.71 Dalasi 13
1985 782 4.09 Dalasi 25
1990 2,367 8.13 Dalasi 65
1995 3,617 9.49 Dalasi 90
2000 5,382 12.78 Dalasi 100
2005 13,174 28.70 Dalasi 158

For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US dollar is exchanged at 4.35 Dalasi only.

The Gambia's economy is characterized by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on peanuts or groundnuts for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry. Average wages in 2007 hover around $1–2 per day.

Economic sectors


Agriculture accounts for 23% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 75% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 5.3% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 4.4%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%.


Industry accounts for 12% of GDP. Manufacturing accounts for 6% of GDP. The limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agriculturally based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks, and clothing. Services account for 19% of GDP.


Tourism in Gambia has three major strands. There is the traditional sun seeking holiday making use of the hot climate and wonderful beaches. The Gambia is also usually the first African destination for many European birders, in view of its easily accessed and spectacular avian fauna. There are also a significant number of African Americans tracing their roots in this country, from which so many Africans were taken during the slave trade.

The tourist season is the dry season, during the Northern Hemisphere winter.


In FY 1999, the UK and other EU countries were the Gambia's major domestic export markets, accounting for 86% of all exports. This was followed by Asia at 14% of exports, and the African at 8% of exports.

The U.K. and the other EU countries - namely, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium - were the major source of imports, accounting for 60% of the total share of imports, followed by Asia at 23%, and African countries at 17%. The Gambia re-exports 11% of its exports going to and 14.6% of its imports coming from the United States.



purchasing power parity $2.264 billion (2008 est.)
real growth rate: 5.5% (2008 est.)
per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2008 est.)
composition by sector:
agriculture: 33%
industry: 8.7%
services: 58.3% (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2008 est.)

Labor force: 400,000

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 75%, industry, commerce, and services 19%, government 6%


revenues: $88.6 million
expenditures: $98.2 million, including capital expenditures of $ (Not Available) (FY96/97 est.)

Industries: processing peanuts, fish, and hides; tourism; beverages; agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking; clothing


production: 75 GWh, entirely from fossil fuels (1998)
consumption: 70 GWh (1998)
Electricity is not imported or exported from the Gambia.

Agriculture - products: peanuts, pearl millet, sorghum, rice, maize, cassava (tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats; forest and fishery resources not fully exploited.

Exports: $132 million (f.o.b., 1998)

commodities: peanuts and peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels.
partners: Benelux 78%, Japan, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, France, Spain (1997)

Imports: $201 million (f.o.b., 1998)

commodities: foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment.
partners: Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ivory Coast, France, Senegal, Belgium (1997)

Debt - external: $430 million (1997 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $45.4 million (1995)

Currency: Dalasi (D)

Exchange rates: dalasi (D) per US$1 – 43.860 (January 2017), 11.626 (November 1999), 10.643 (1998), 10.200 (1997), 9.789 (1996), 9.546 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

See also


  1. ^ "World Bank forecast for Gambia, The, June 2018 (p. 153)" (PDF). World Bank. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Ease of Doing Business in Gambia, The". Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  3. ^ "Export Partners of the Gambia". CIA World Factbook. 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
  4. ^ "Import Partners of the Gambia". CIA World Factbook. 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-11.
  5. ^ International Monetary Fund

Further reading

  • Sternfeldt, Ann-Britt. (2000). The Good Tourist in the Gambia: Travelguide for Conscious Tourists. Translated from Swedish by Rolli Fölsch. TheGoodTourist. Sexdrega, Sweden. ISBN 91-974010-4-8.

External links

Central Bank of The Gambia

The Central Bank of The Gambia is the central bank of The Gambia. Its name is abbreviated to CBG. The bank is located in Banjul and was established in 1971. Bakary Jammeh is the current Governor.

Gambia Colony and Protectorate

The Gambia Colony and Protectorate was the British colonial administration of the Gambia from 1821 to 1965, part of the British Empire in the New Imperialism era. The colony was the immediate area surrounding Bathurst (now Banjul), and the protectorate was the inland territory situated around the Gambia River, which was declared in 1894. The foundation of the colony was Fort James and Bathurst, where British presence was established in 1815 and 1816, respectively. For various periods in its existence it was subordinate to the Sierra Leone Colony, however by 1888 it was a colony in its own right with a permanently appointed Governor.

The boundaries of the territory were an issue of contention between the British and French authorities due to the proximity to French Senegal. Additionally, on numerous occasions the British government had attempted to exchange it with France for other territories, such as on the upper Niger River.France and Britain agreed in 1889 in principle to set the boundary at six miles north and south of the river and east to Yarbutenda, the furthest navigable point on the river Gambia. This should have been followed by the dispatchment of a joint Anglo-French Boundary Commission to map the actual border. Yet, at its arrival on place in 1891, the boundary commission was met with resistance by local leaders whose territories they were coming to divide. The boundary commission could nevertheless rely on British naval power; British ships bombed the town of Kansala to force the Gambians to back off, and according to the 1906 The Gambia Colony and Protectorate: An Official Handbook men and guns from three warships landed on the riverbanks “as a hint of what the resisters had to expect in the event of any continued resistance.” The colony ended in 1965 when The Gambia became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations, with Dawda Jawara as Prime Minister.

Gambian dalasi

The dalasi is the currency of the Gambia that was adopted in 1971. It is subdivided into 100 bututs. It replaced the Gambian pound at a rate of 1 pound = 5 dalasis, i.e. 1 dalasi = 0.2 pound = 4 shillings.

The name derives from dala, a nickname of the 5 French West African franc note, which in turn derived from "dollar", while butut is from Wolof butuut, "small thing".

Gambian pound

The Gambian pound was the currency of the Gambia between 1965 and 1971. Gambia used the British West African pound until it issued its own currency on October 5, 1964. In 1971, the dalasi replaced the pound at a rate of 1 pound = 5 dalasis which means 1 dalasi = 4 shillings. One Gambian pound was made up of 20 shillings, each shilling being made up of 12 pence.

History of the Gambia

The first written records of the region come from Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries. In medieval times, the region was dominated by the Trans-Saharan trade and was ruled by the Mali Empire. In the 16th century, the region came to be ruled by the Songhai Empire. The first Europeans to visit the Gambia River were the Portuguese in the 15th century, who attempted to settle on the river banks, but no settlement of significant size was established. Descendants of the Portuguese settlers remained until the 18th century. In the late 16th century, English merchants attempted to begin a trade with the Gambia, reporting that it was "a river of secret trade and riches concealed by the Portuguese."

In the early 17th century, the French attempted to settle the Gambia but failed. Further English expeditions from 1618 to 1621, including under Richard Jobson, were attempted but resulted in huge losses. Merchants of the Commonwealth of England sent expeditions to the Gambia in 1651, but their ships were captured by Prince Rupert the following year. In 1651, the Couronian colonization of the Gambia had also begun, with forts and outposts being erected on several islands. The Courlanders remained dominant until 1659 when their possessions were handed over to the Dutch West India Company. In 1660, the Courlanders resumed possession, but the next year was expelled by the newly formed Royal Adventurers in Africa Company.

In 1667, the rights of the Royal Adventurers to the Gambia were sublet to the Gambia Adventurers but later reverted to the new Royal African Company. 1677 saw the beginning of a century-and-a-half-long struggle between the English and French for supremacy over the Gambia and Senegal. The English possessions were captured several times by the French, but in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the British rights to the region were recognized by the French. In the mid-18th century, the Royal African Company began having serious financial problems and in 1750, Parliament divested the company of its rights in the region. In 1766, the Crown gained possession of the territory, and it formed part of the Senegambia colony. In 1783, Senegambia ceased existing as a British colony.

Following the cessation of Senegambia, the colony was in effect abandoned. The only Europeans were traders who existed in a few settlements on the river banks, such as Pisania. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander Grant was sent to re-establish a presence in the Gambia. He established Bathurst and the British possessions continued to grow in size through a series of treaties. It was administered from Sierra Leone until 1843 when it was given its own Governor, but in 1866 merged again with Sierra Leone. The cession of the Gambia to France was proposed in the late 19th century but was met with considerable protest in both the Gambia and in England. In 1888, the colony regained its own government structure, and in 1894 the Gambia Colony, and Protectorate was properly established along the lines it would continue to hold until independence.

In 1901, legislative and executive councils were established for the Gambia, as well as the Gambia Company of the RWAFF. Gambian soldiers fought in World War I, and in the 1920s Edward Francis Small led the push for emancipation, founding the Bathurst Trade Union and the Rate Payers' Association. During World War II, the Gambia Company was raised to a regiment, and notably fought in the Burma Campaign in the latter years of the war. Franklin D. Roosevelt's visit to the Gambia in 1943 was the first visit by a sitting US President to the African continent. Following the war, the pace of reform increased, with an economic focus on the production of the Peanut and a failed programme called the Gambia Poultry Scheme by the Colonial Development Corporation. The push towards self-government increased its pace, and the House of Representatives was established in 1960. Pierre Sarr N'Jie served as Chief Minister from 1961 to 1962, though following the 1962 election Dawda Jawara became Prime Minister, beginning the People's Progressive Party's dominance of Gambian politics for the next thirty years. Full internal self-government was achieved in 1963, and following extensive negotiations, the Gambia declared independence in 1965.

The Gambia gained independence as a constitutional monarchy that remained part of the Commonwealth, but in 1970 became a presidential republic. Jawara was elected the first President and remained in this position until 1994. A coup, led by Kukoi Sanyang, was attempted in 1981 but failed after Senegalese intervention. From 1981 to 1989, the Gambia entered into the Senegambia Confederation, which collapsed. In 1994, Jawara was overthrown in a coup d'état led by Yahya Jammeh, who ruled as a military dictator for two years through the AFPRC. He was elected President in 1996 and continued in this role until 2017. During this time, Jammeh's party, the APRC, dominated Gambian politics. the Gambia left the Commonwealth of Nations in 2013 and suffered an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2014. In the 2016 election, Adama Barrow was elected President, backed by a coalition of opposition parties. Jammeh's refusal to step down led to a constitutional crisis and the intervention of ECOWAS forces.

Index of Gambia-related articles

This page list topics related to the Gambia.

List of companies based in The Gambia

The Gambia, officially the Republic of the Gambia, is a country in West Africa. It is surrounded by Senegal, apart from a short strip of Atlantic coastline at its western end. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa. The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterised by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on groundnuts (peanuts) for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry.

Outline of the Gambia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Gambia:

The Gambia – country in West Africa, officially named the Republic of the Gambia. The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. On 18 February 1965, the Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom and joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Since gaining independence, the Gambia has enjoyed relative political stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994. Thanks to the fertile land of the country, the economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

Power Up Gambia

Power Up Gambia (PUG) is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based non-profit health care and environmental group that works in the Gambia, in West Africa. It was founded in 2006 by Kathryn Cunningham Hall, then a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate.

The organization's goal is to provide reliable electricity to health care facilities throughout the Gambia. They do so through the installation of solar panel systems and battery storage systems, providing power throughout the day.

Sirra Wally Ndow-Njie

Sirra Wally Ndow-Njie (also Ndow Njai) is a Gambian politician. She has served as Minister of Energy, Minister of Petroleum, and Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture. In June 2016 she was arrested on economic crime charges and detained in prison until the charges were dropped in April 2017.

Tourism in the Gambia

The tourism industry today in the Gambia started when a party of 300 Swedish tourists arrived in 1965. That pioneering trip was organised by a Swede named Bertil Harding together with the tour operators Vingresor. It was seen as an ideal place to escape the harsh winter months of Scandinavia where Europeans would enjoy not only sun, sand and beaches but also experience the excitement of a real African holiday. It also offered new opening for an affordable holiday to increasing numbers of traveling Europeans.

The number of visitors increased from 300 tourists in 1965 to 25,000 visitors in 1976. The number of tourists has continued to rise sharply throughout the years, and as the government is eager to diversify the economy, it recognised tourism as a potential major foreign exchange source of revenue. However, despite increasing popularity as a tourist destination, infrastructure development has been slow.

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