2: PRESENT SITUATION
- The Private
The realisation of
the above-mentioned objectives imply drastic changes in our day- to-day
lives. Indeed , an effective management of change is called for to transform
The Gambia into a middle-income country in 25 year. In this vein changes
in attitudes and in our general behaviour as economic and socio-political
agents must be fostered both through societal inducements as well as through
individual action. To have an adequate measure of the height of the objectives
set aside, it is imperative to make a detailed analysis of the present
The average Gambian is still
largely inhibited by a number of negative attitudes towards production
and social life. Attitudes such as " maslaha"(i.e. compromising,
to the point of condoning wrong-doing), greed, corruption, nepotism,
patronage, extravagance, inconsiderate consumption to the detriment
of personal savings, fatalism and a want of entrepreneurial drive are
rife in our day to day interpersonal exchange.
The extended family system
has created financial dependence by the majority on a few , contributing
to laziness, covetousness and lavishness, particularly with regards
to public funds. Further more, the economic role of women is still not
fully recognised and valued as indispensable to an enhanced revenue
generating capacity of the household; Gambian women are still largely
deprived of the factors of production.
Peoples' perception of the
State as the all-provider and all-doer is also seriously counterproductive.
The notion of "mansa kunda" too, in reference to the Administration,
does not help people to identify themselves with government, which is
considered distant, income incomprehensible bureaucratic machinery,
dissociated from the every day preoccupation of people.
To achieve the objectives
if Vision 2020, major efforts to change attitudes are called for. Although
this is a learning process, induction to new forms of socialisation
must commence in earnest in order to smoothen the transformation into
a middle-income country. Within the present context, this is not an
impossible task considering the high degree of religious and social
tolerance of the Gambian people, the low crime rate, the environment
of peace and civil tranquillity and, in particular, the relative young
- PRODUCTION AND INCOME
Following the start of the
structural adjustment programme in 1986, economic output increased appreciably.
Real GDP grew by 3.3 percent between 1986 and 1993. Relative to countries
of the same income category this is an impressive rate of growth. However,
despite the expansion in output, per capita income has not been growing
largely because of a high demographic growth rate of 4.1 percent.
With per capita income at
US$ 337 in1995, The Gambia is ranked as among the List Developed Countries
(LDCs) and considered one of the poorest in the World.
Basic infrastructure and
social amenities are sill at a rudimentary stage, and the standard of
living of the majority of the population (particularly the rural population)
is, by World standards, extremely low. Production in the major sectors
of the economy is yet to attain modern standards, while productivity
growth and income levels for the same are far below World averages.
The average income of the
Gambian has declined despite improvement in the management of inflation
and some successes in curbing the Budget deficit. However, some categories
of the population now enjoy a net increase in earnings and confirm that
opportunities for savings can be envisaged among this category.
- ECONOMIC STRUCTURE
Over the years, the structure
of the economy has not changed considerably. The Gambia remains a predominantly
agricultural country as far as employment is concerned and a service
economy in terms of contributions to GDP. The contribution of industry
is very modest indeed, although this sector, together with the services
sector still show potentials for expansion in future. It is clear from
this structure that productivity can still be considerably improved
to the infusion of better technologies and management methods notably
- AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL
Agriculture is the backbone
of economy, engaging 70 percent of the labour force of which two thirds
are women. This sector's contribution to GDP stands at about 20 percent.
The main cash products are groundnuts, cotton, horticulture, livestock
and fisheries, while subsistence crops are composed of cereals such
as millet, sorghum, maize and rice.
is concentrated in the peri-urban areas and contributes about 4.2
per cent of GDP. This sub-sector shows a lot potential growth. Its
growth, however, is constrained by the lack of access to markets both
local and international, the absence of logistics such as storage
facilities and limited presentation techniques. The absence of linkages
with other sectors of the economy, particularly tourism is also a
major constraint to growth in the sub-sector.
The livestock sub-sector
contributes 6 per cent to GDP. The current strategy is to promote
private sector participation in livestock production and marketing
with a view to increase cattle producers off-take rates so as to resume
exports to the sub region, increase access and coverage of services,
promote livestock processing and poultry production as well as rearing
of other short cycle species such as rabbits.
The fisheries sub-sector
has been making a steady growth over the years and presently contributes
8 per cent to GDP. This sector's development objectives are maximise
foreign exchange earnings, to create employment and to provide affordable
protein to the national population. The program of the artisanal sub-sector,
with 14 operational community fisheries centres has in the recent
past, increased employment in the sub-sector and improved the scope
of community management and improved nutrition both in the urban and
Forestry contributes 1
per cent of GDP. Government a priority for this sector is to put in
place the natural resources strategy, namely a holistic approach to
environmental management within the framework of the Gambia Environmental
action Plan (GEAP).
In the area of water resources
activities currently being undertaken include measurement of river
flows on small and seasonal streams, tidal water level monitoring,
salinity measurements on the River Gambia and monitoring of groundwater
level. The exercise is intended to provide a database for assessment
and management of the nation's water resources.
- INDUSTRY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
The industrial sector contributes
only 11 per cent to GDP and employs very few people. This small contribution
to the economy is due to a number of factors, among which is an inadequate
infrastructure, a shortage or investment capital, unreliable and expensive
electricity supply as well as low skills.
About 50 per cent of industrial
output is generated by the manufacturing sub-sector. At the end of
1995, the number of large and medium scale manufacturing enterprises
was barely 30, of which only 10 employed more than 50 workers, only
a few had more than a 100 workers. The sector has seen joint ventures
in sea food processing, foam manufacturing, industrial sewing, bicycle
assembly and so on. Unfortunately, the mortally rate of new ventures
was extremely high.
About 80 per cent of the
establishments are situated around the Greater Banjul Area, thus worsening
sociological problems associated with rapid organisation. Raw materials
for most of these entities are in imported, except for the smaller
handicraft industry which is mainly focused on the tourist industry.
A growing sea-food and fish processing sub-sector sets the pace in
the sector, with artisanal activities situated on coastal villages.
support through the Indigenous Business Advisory Services (IBAS) has
sought with success, to further develop and reinforced and integrated
package of assistance to small enterprises, looking at their constraints
and objectives. These constraints include the limited size of the
domestic market, inadequate natural resources, low technical skills,
the absence of a venture capital market and the inadequacy of major
infrastructural services such as, transport and electricity supply.
Finally, exports of domestically manufactured goods are extremely
meagre. The increase in manufacturing output that will facilitate
the realisation of the long term objectives imply constant efforts
at improving technology, in industrial structure, promoting industrial
relations, but particularly, at accelerating the monetisation of the
economy and financial deepening.
the present situation of the transport industry in the Gambia is rudimentary
with little or no integration of transport modes and little industrial
organisation, particularly for haulage transport. Financing of transport
infrastructure in mainly borne by Government, not without a burden
on the public investment programme. Master plans have been drawn for
each major mode of transportation, that is sea, land and air, but
institutional arrangements for sustainable financing and accelerated
inter-connectedness of transport modes are yes to be implemented.
At the end of 1995, the
Gambia has a best telecommunication system in Africa that ranked it
world-wide in terms of call completion rate. The Gambian telecommunication
industry a sole actor industry still reserves formidable growth and
diversification potentials for the further. Its current capacity of
231 international circuits is targeted to expand to atleast 750 by
the year 2020. Deregulation and incentives for competitions among
prospective actors are envisaged to the elaboration of long term strategy
of the sector.
- INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Foreign trade plays a vital
albeit diminishing role in The Gambia's economy development. Its contribution
to GDP declined from 24 percent in 1985/86 to 14.3 percent in 1994/95.
International trade also contributes 60 percent of Government tax
revenue. For the best part, it involves the re-export of imported
manufactured goods and essential commodities to the neighbouring countries
Merchandise trading activity
in The Gambia is at present dominated by non-Gambian . The share of
Gambians in retail and wholesale trade follows a distinct pattern.
The development of trade is constrained by the absence of a trade
facilitation centre and the unavailability of trade- related information
to assist traders with data about business and make opportunity of
trade regulations and requirements both domestically and in international
- FINANCIAL SERVICE
The financial system
in The Gambia is highly liberalised, having benefited from reforms
during the structural adjustment period. Entry into the baking industry
is fairly easy, credit ceilings and quantitative restrictions on
banks have been abolished and flexible interest rates have been
put in place to infuse some market discipline. Banks are highly
profitable with returns on equity of up to 200 per cent a measure
of their efficiency.
The Exchange Control
Act, which was in suspense since 1989, was repeated in 1992 and
The Gambia became a signatory to article VIII of the IMF's articles
of agreement in 1993. By this act, monetary issues relating to payments,
transfers currency arrangements and practices are according to international
transactions. This has made the Dalasis a de facto convertible currency
and among the most stable in the sub-region an essential ingredient
for business planning.
The liberalisation of
interest rates and the subsequent reduction in inflation have resulted
in positive real interest rates. This has impacted positively on
savings and it is hoed that it will have a similar effect on foreign
investment. Total bank deposits have grown from D140.7 million in
June 1985 to D624.2 million in June 1995, with a steep increase
in the savings component. However, the share of domestic savings
has dropped from 4.9 per cent of GDP in 1984/85 through a peak of
10.1 per cent in 1988/89 to 3.3 per cent in 1994/95.
developments, the financial system is confronted with a number of
challenges the thinness and undiversified nature of the market,
the lack of competition, the absence of term lending institutions
is a structural problem that puts at risk the availability of the
required investment for the achievement of the objectives of Vision
2020. At the end of 1995 the financial system in The Gambia was
composed of a Central Bank, four commercial banks six insurance
companies a number of foreign exchange bureaux and a Pensions, Provident
and Housing Finance Fund.
The existing commercial
banks are all foreign owned and the bulk of their lending is concentrated
in the distributive trade sector, due to the low risks and the quick
returns from this sector. Lending to the productive sectors is very
low an the needs of the informal sector go unnoticed.
The branch network of
the banks is significantly under developed and geographically undiversified.
In addition in the four headquarters there are 17 branches in all
and the majority of them are located within the Greater Banjul Area.
Furthermore, bank investment in technology and human resource development
is low. The lack of competition among banks results from the small
number and the concentration of services in the same market segments.
It should however be expected that banks would improve on the quality
and diversity of their services.
The economy has a low
financial savings rate, averaging 3.3 per cent of GDP in 1995. However,
a significant amount of savings is held in other terms such as land,
live animals and informal arrangements like "osusus".
Besides, NGO's and similar institutions operate some forms of lending
and savings mobilisation in the sector.
- HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
- EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Within the broad objectives
of Education For All, the results achieved so far are measurable
satisfactory in quantitative terms. There has been an increase in
secondary level education from 35 per cent in 1985 to almost 60
per cent in 1995 and there was a steady increase in non-formal education.
Notwithstanding these achievements, the sector is confronted with
difficulties. Constraints relating to the availability of qualified
teachers, classrooms and instructional materials require urgent
action to improve on the quality and responsiveness of learning
and skill dissemination. An investment programme for the expansion
and rehabilitation of present structures calls for improved planning
and budgeting of resources but at the disposal of the Education
- HEALTH AND SOCIAL WELFARE
The existing health
sector programmes are built around the principles of the Primary
Health Care system (PHC) which was launched in 1980. The aim of
this system was to ensure a reduction in infant and maternal mortality
rates while at the same time providing significant improvements
in the quality, effectiveness and sustainability of the service
At the end of 1995,
the health sector in The Gambia comprised of two referral hospitals,
seven major health centres, eleven minor health centres, 17 dispensaries,
145 outreach stations and 381 health posts. This infrastructure
is complemented by the private sector health facilities, which
include 12 private clinics and one private hospital.
In addition, to the
public and private sector health services, there are also a number
of NGO's involved in providing health services to the Gambian
people. Other participants' n the health industry include traditional
healers and herbalists whose services are utilised by a large
number of people.
in infrastructure within the PHC system include the expansion
of the PHC programme to more villages, improvements and rehabilitation
works at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Bansang Hospital and Kuntair
Dispensary. The polarisation activities have been very successful
in providing cool storage for vaccines and water heating facilities
for rural health establishments. Unfortunately the only available
training institutions for Health Professionals are focused on
training of nurses and public health officials.
There were several
programmes aimed at improving the standards of health of the Gambian
people. The expanded programme of Immunisation covered about 82
per cent of the population in 1991.
Programmes for the
control of major diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, acute respiratory
infections, TB, leprosy and HIV/Aids have received nation-wide
Focus was made on reforms
in strengthening the management structures of the health delivery
system, promoting decentralisation and strengthening financial management.
The safe motherhood and child survival strategies also contributed
significantly to training.
Despite some remarkable
successes in the provision of health care services to the Gambian
people, the ever-increasing demand for health services from a rapidly
growing population and the limited resources available pose a great
challenge for the future. Constraints in the sector include a shortage
of trained nurses, doctors and other health professionals, insufficient
transport and storage facilities for the health and accessibility
of drugs, inefficient co-ordination of programmes and so on. An inadequate
co-ordination of donor assistance to the health sector has inhabited
the attainment of our national priorities in most cases.
The world population
in 1993 was estimated at 5.5 billion and growing at an annual rate
of 1.6 per cent. If this rate was to continue as has been realised
in the past, it is likely to double in 44 years. During the period
1985-90, about 49 per cent of the world's population lived in 114
countries that had population growth rates of more than 2 per cent
per annum. These include all the countries in Africa whose population
doubling time averages about 24 years. This alarming situation calls
for a significant reduction in the growth rate of the population
in such countries, which if not addressed may result in serious
social, economic and environmental problems.
The Gambia is by no means
an exception to this rule. Over the past 20 years and in particular
the last 13 years the growth in the population of The Gambia has
given cause for concern. Between 1983 and 1993 the population of
the country increased by over 50 per cent. This represents an annual
rate of increase of 4.2 per cent outstripping economic growth over
the period. If the population continues to grow at this rate then
the population of the Gambia will double in size by the year 2010.
The housing sector is among
the least developed in the country. The housing situation in parts
of the country is very critical indeed. This is due party to an inefficient
land system and the use of costly building materials most of which
are imported. Added to these are a national population growth rate
of 4.1 per cent per annum, a population density of about 100 inhabitants
per square kilometre and an urbanisation rate of 6.4 per cent for
the Greater Banjul Area. In the urban areas the housing problem is
manifested in over crowding, high rents a substandard housing stock,
poor environmental conditions and long commuting distances to and
from work or business.
Apart from on going private
initiatives in housing development only two public houses projects
were implemented in the past, the Bakoteh Housing Project comprising
200 designated and built houses units costing D6.85 million (1984)
and the Kanifing east Site and services Project comprising 743 serviced
plots costing D18 million (1992). Inspite of the foregoing the housing
requirement is estimated to be 22,000 units at the end of 1995.
- THE PRIVATE SECTOR
The emphases of the structural
adjustment programme implemented in the last decade were on strengthening
the supply response of the economy and enhancing the efficiency
of resource allocation by removing price distortions and Government
controls while liberalising product and service markets.
Specific policies aimed
at enhancing private sector activity were implemented. Major policies
pursued included reducing the budget deficit in order to generate
more private sector activity. Tax reforms, a key element in the
economic reform package, have been directed at improving incentives
for economic activity whilst enhancing efficiency and equity in
the economy. Expenditure measures have sought to improve public
investment by focusing on the rehabilitation and maintenance of
basic infrastructure and the development of human resources.
External policies have
sought to expand the export base, containing the debt burden at
sustainable levels and the preservation of international competitiveness.
Complementary structural adjustments designed to enhance the efficiency
of the economy and stimulate private sector activity include the
privatisation of public sector commercial activities. The remaining
public enterprises will continue to operate under commercial lines
whilst financial reforms will improve on the efficiency of the intermediation
process. The expansion of a service Tourism development area and
the formulation of an investment Code are under study while the
provision of fiscal and regulatory incentives to private investors
are being rationalised.
- PUBLIC SECTOR INSTITUTION
Most public sector institution
operates in low specificity environments with little competition in
the delivery of services. As a result, these institutions are not
compelled to improve performance or invest in management capacity
building. Moreover, it is difficult to appreciate the performance
of institutions and determine optional paths for resource and incentive
Technical as opposed to
people oriented institutions have had a fairer share of incentives
ever since the beginning of the ERP. As a result, resources, particularly
human have tended to flow away from the latter towards the former.
- PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The Gambian population
is a mix of many ethnic groups with rich and diverse culture coupled
with different religious affiliations. A high degree of religious
and ethnic tolerance exists and intermarriage between people of different
religious and cultural identities is common.
Despite the predominance
of Islam as the major confession, the country is a secular state with
the citizenry manifesting respect for each other's cultural, religious
and traditional values. The high level of cultural and religious tolerance
continues to provide a sound basis for the peaceful co existence for
the Gambian people.