Country FilesWestCountry Profile 2014: GAMBIA

Wed,22Nov2017

Posted on Saturday, 08 February 2014 22:59

Country Profile 2014: GAMBIA

Retreating into isolation

While the continuing controversies stirred by President Yahya Jammeh have given fuel to Gambian opposition parties on the ground, and have sparked more vocal outrage from the media and citizens through social media, the opposition will no doubt still struggle to agree on a unified course of action in 2014. But it can at least claim to have gained some ground and the government appears to be feeling the heat, with reports that the authorities have stepped up their tactics of arrests and exiling political dissenters.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

TOP GAMBIAN COMPANIES

TOP GAMBIAN BANKS

ar-infographie-gambia-2014Retreating into isolation

Opposition parties still struggle to agree on a unified course of action

The government hopes to launch Gambia as an offshore financial centre

While the continuing controversies stirred by President Yahya Jammeh have given fuel to Gambian opposition parties on the ground, and have sparked more vocal outrage from the media and citizens through social media, the opposition will no doubt still struggle to agree on a unified course of action in 2014. But it can at least claim to have gained some ground and the government appears to be feeling the heat, with reports that the authorities have stepped up their tactics of arrests and exiling political dissenters.

The parties have from time to time managed to coordinate their activities. In October Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party, Hamat Bah of the National Reconciliation Party, Omar Jallow of the People’s Progressive Party and Daniel Mendy of the Gambia Moral Congress issued a joint statement regarding the president’s accusations that the United States and Britain have been spying and plotting a coup in Gambia. They called his words “ill-considered, uncalled for and worrisome”.

WESTERN RELATIONS SOUR

President Jammeh’s verbal attacks on the Western powers came shortly after his decision to pull the country out of the Commonwealth, of which Gambia had been a member for 48 years. The withdrawal was announced on state TV, giving no other reason than that the Common wealth is a“ neo-colonial institution”.

It is unlikely to be coincidence that the UK foreign office had singled Gambia out in a report on human rights abuses, sparked partly after the president ordered the brutal execution of all death row prisoners by firing squad the previous year. As a result, Gambia will no longer be participating in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Human rights concerns have been further exacerbated by Jammeh’s fiery rhetoric concerning homosexuality. Addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2013, the president branded homosexuality as one of the three “biggest threats to human existence”. Homosexual Gambians continue to flee the country, often seeking refuge in neighbouring Senegal, where it is also illegal but attracts less official disapproval.

As Gambia’s relations with Western powers take a sharp sour turn, the government will welcome business interest from emerging countries such as Indonesia, whose ambassador recently made an approach to the Gambia Chamber of Commerce. There is also discussion about the risky move towards becoming an offshore financial centre. The country already has several hundred companies signed up, but will need to bolster its offering if it is to be taken seriously as a viable offshore option to the likes of British customers.

 

EXPORT RUNS DRY

Gambia is currently looking to diversify away from peanuts, which remain its number one export and provide a highly unreliable source of income. The country is still, two years on, reeling from the effects of the 2011 drought, which had a severe effect on crop output. At the same time, given the economy’s heavy reliance on tourism and remittance flows, the country will remain vulnerable to any renewed economic slowdown in the eurozone.

Inflation continues to rise, reaching a rate of 7% in the third quarter of the year, and this has in part been attributed to the central bank’s financing of fiscal debt. Many Gambians are currently struggling to meet high food prices. However the authorities are hoping to bring inflation down to 5% in 2014. In 2013 the dalasi depreciated when, in addition to the effects of the poor 2012 harvest, the government imposed a series of exchange rate directives that caused major disruptions to its foreign exchange market. This led to a wave of capital flight as well as a decrease in remittances. Incoherent macroeconomic policies are likely to have an adverse effect on the economy. In particular, IMF executive directors have called for more consistency in monetary policy and have recommended greater vigilance about non-performing loans.

Despite the inconsistencies and negative influences, the GDP growth prospects are surprisingly good, with the IMF projecting rates of 6.4% for 2013 and 8.5% for 2014. Such outcomes will mainly depend on the recovery of agricultural output.

 

TOP GAMBIAN COMPANIES

No companies from Gambia featured in The Africa's Report's Top 500 Companies in Africa 2013.

TOP GAMBIAN BANKS

No banks from Gambia featured in The Africa's Report's Top 200 Banks in Africa 2012.



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