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Published by: M Farooq Faheem on May 07, 2012
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The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The country is situated around the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is almost 10,500 km with an estimated population of 1,700,000. On 18 February 1965 Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom and joined The Commonwealth. Banjul is Gambia's capital, but the largest conurbations are Serekunda and Brikama. 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. Since gaining independence in 1965, Gambia has enjoyed relative political stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.


"We want to transform the Gambia into a trading, export-oriented agricultural and manufacturing nation, thriving on free market policies and a vibrant private sector, sustained by a well-educated , trained , skilled healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population and in so doing bring to fruition this fundamental aim and aspiration of Vision 2020."

Arab traders provided The Gambia's first written accounts in the 9th and 10th centuries. During the 10th century, Muslim merchants and scholars established communities in several West African commercial centers. Both groups established trans-Saharan trade routes, leading to a large trade in slaves, gold, ivory (exports) and manufactured goods, etc., (imports). By the 11th century or the 12th century, the rulers of kingdoms such as Takrur (a monarchy centered on the Senegal River just to the north), ancient Ghana and Gao, had converted to Islam and had appointed Muslims who were literate in the Arabic language as courtesans. At the beginning of the 14th century, most of what is today called Gambia was part of the Mali Empire. The Portuguese reached this area by sea in the mid-15th century, and they began to dominate overseas trade. In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, Antonio, Prior of Crato, sold exclusive trade rights on the Gambia River to English merchants. Letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I confirmed the grant. In 1618, King James I of England granted a charter to an English company for trade with Gambia and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Between 1651 and 1661 some parts of Gambia were under Courland's rule, and had been bought by Prince Jacob Kettler, who was a PolishLithuanian vassal.

During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century, the British Empire and the French Empire struggled continually for political and commercial supremacy in the regions of the Senegal River and the Gambia River. The British Empire occupied Gambia when an expedition led by Augustus Keppel landed there—following the Capture of Senegal in 1758. The 1783 First Treaty of Versailles gave Great Britain possession of the Gambia River, but the French retained a tiny enclave at Albreda on the river's north bank. This was finally ceded to the United Kingdom in 1856. According to its current president Yahya Jammeh, Gambia "is one of the oldest and biggest countries in Africa that was reduced to a small snake by the British government – [which] sold all our lands to the French. As many as three million slaves may have been taken from this general region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade was operated. It is not known how many slaves were taken by inter-tribal wars or Mexican traders before the transatlantic slave trade began. Most of those taken were sold by other Africans to Europeans; others were prisoners of inter-tribal

wars; some were victims sold because of unpaid debts; and others were simply victims of kidnapping. Traders initially sent slaves to Europe to work as servants until the market for labour expanded in the West Indies and North America in the 18th century. In 1807, the United Kingdom abolished the slave trade throughout its Empire. It also tried, unsuccessfully, to end the slave trade in Gambia. Slave ships intercepted by the Royal Navy in the Atlantic were also returned to The Gambia, with Liberated Slaves released on MacCarthy Island far up the Gambia River where they were expected to establish new lives. The British established the military post of Bathurst (now Banjul) in 1816. In the ensuing years, Banjul was at times under the jurisdiction of the British Governor General in Sierra Leone. In 1888, Gambia became a separate colony. An agreement with the French Republic in 1889 established the present boundaries of Gambia. Gambia became a British Crown Colony called British Gambia, divided for administrative purposes into the colony (city of Banjul and the surrounding area) and the protectorate (remainder of the territory). Gambia received its own executive and legislative councils in 1901, and it gradually progressed toward self-government. Slavery was finally abolished in 1906. During World War II, Gambian troops fought with the Allies of World War II. Though these soldiers fought mostly in Burma, some died closer to home and there is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Fajara (close to Banjul). According to the current president Yahya Jammeh, "when Germany was about to defeat Britain, not only were Gambians conscripted and forced to go and fight in Britain, but also Banjul contained as an airstrip for the U.S. Army Air Forces and a port of call for Allied naval convoys. President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt visited by air and stopped overnight in Banjul en route to and from the Casablanca Conference (1943) in Morocco, marking the first visit to the African continent by an American President. After World War II, the pace of constitutional reform increased. Following general elections in 1962, the United Kingdom granted full internal self-governance in the following year. The Gambia achieved independence on February 18, 1965, as a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Shortly thereafter, the national government held a referendum proposing that an elected president should replace The Gambian monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) as the head of state. This referendum failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, but the results won widespread attention abroad as testimony to Gambia's observance of secret balloting, honest elections, civil rights, and liberties. On April 24, 1970, Gambia became a republic within the Commonwealth, following a second referendum. Prime Minister Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara became the as Head of State. This made the Gambia both the first and last British colony in West Africa.] The Gambia was led by President Dawda Jawara, who was re-elected five times. The relative stability of the Jawara era was shattered first by an attempted coup in 1981. The coup was led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who, on two occasions, had unsuccessfully sought election to Parliament. After a week of violence which left several hundred people dead, Jawara, in London

when the attack began, appealed to Senegal for help. Senegalese troops defeated the rebel force. In the aftermath of this attempted coup, Senegal and Gambia signed a Treaty of Confederation in 1982. The goal of the Senegambia Confederation was to combine the armed forces of the two states and to unify their economies and currencies. After just a short stretch of years, Gambia permanently withdrew from this confederation in 1989. In 1994, the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) deposed the Jawara government and banned opposition political activity. Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, chairman of the AFPRC, became head of state. The AFPRC announced a transition plan for return to democratic civilian government. The Provisional Independent Electoral Commission (PIEC) was established in 1996 to conduct national elections. The PIEC was transformed to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1997 and became responsible for registration of voters and conduct of elections and referendums. In late 2001 and early 2002, the Gambia completed a full cycle of presidential, legislative, and local elections, which foreign observers deemed free, fair, and transparent, albeit with some shortcomings. President Yahya Jammeh, who was elected to continue in the position he had assumed during the coup, took the oath of office again on 21 December 2001. Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) maintained its strong majority in the National Assembly, particularly after the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.

The Gambia was one of the oldest existing multi-party democracies in Africa. It had conducted freely contested elections every 5 years since independence. After the military coup, politicians from deposed president Jawara's people's progressive party (PPP) and other senior government officials were banned from participating in politics until July 2001. The people's progressive party (PPP), headed by former president jawara, had dominated Gambian politics for nearly 30 years. after spearheading the movement toward complete independence from Britain, the PPP was voted into power and was never seriously challenged by any opposition party. the last elections under the PPP regime were held in April 1992. following the coup in July 1994, a presidential election took place in September 1996, in which retired col. yahya a.j.j. jammeh won 56% of the vote. the legislative elections held in January 1997 were dominated by the APRC, which captured 33 out of 45 seats. In July 2001, the ban on jawara-era political parties and politicians was lifted. four registered opposition parties participated in the October 18, 2001, presidential election, which the incumbent, president yahya jammeh, won with almost 53% of the votes. the APRC maintained its strong majority in

the national assembly in legislative elections held in January 2002, particularly after the main opposition united democratic party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.

President jammeh won the September 2006 elections with 67% of the vote while the opposition alliance won a total of 27%. in the January 2007 parliamentary elections, jammeh's APRC won 42 of the available 48 seats. while both the September and January elections were declared credible, several sources reported increased oversight of journalists in the preceding months. a failed coup in march 2006 had a major effect on the Gambia’s political climate. Since then president jammeh has taken far-reaching steps to maintain power.

The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterized 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.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 24% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%, fishing 4%, and forestry 0.5%. industry accounts for approximately 12% of GDP and services about 59%. the limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agriculturalbased (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks, and clothing.

The Gambia followed a formal policy of nonalignment throughout most of former president jawara's tenure. it maintained close relations with the united kingdom, Senegal, and other African countries. the July 1994 coup strained the Gambia’s relationship with western powers, particularly the united states, which until 2002 suspended most non-humanitarian assistance in accordance with section 508 of the foreign assistance act. beginning in 1995, president jammeh established diplomatic relations with several additional countries, including Libya, Taiwan, and Cuba.

The Gambia plays an active role in international affairs, especially West African and Islamic affairs, although its representation abroad is limited. as a member of the economic community of west African states (ECOWAS), the Gambia has played an active role in that organization's efforts to resolve the civil wars in Liberia and sierra Leone and contributed troops to the community's ceasefire monitoring group (ECOMOG) in 1990 and (ECOMIL) in 2003. it also has sought to mediate disputes in nearby guinea-Bissau and the neighboring casamance region of Senegal. the government of the Gambia believes Senegal was complicit in the march 2006 failed coup attempt. this has put increasing strains on relations between the Gambia and its neighbor. the subsequent worsening of the human rights situation has placed increasing strains of U.S.-Gambia relations.

U.S. policy seeks to build improved relations with the Gambia on the basis of historical ties, mutual respect, democratic rule, human rights, and adherence to UN resolutions on counterterrorism, conflict diamonds, and other forms of trafficking. Following the Gambia’s successful presidential and legislative elections in October 2001 and January 2002, respectively, the U.S. government determined that a democratically elected government had assumed office and thus lifted the sanctions it had imposed against the Gambia in accordance with section 508 of the foreign assistance act as a result of the 1994 coup. u.s. assistance supports democracy, human rights, girls' education, and the fight against HIV/aids. in addition, the peace corps maintains a large program with about 100 volunteers engaged in the environment, public health, and education sectors, mainly at the village level. Relations with the U.S. have not improved significantly due to the human rights and freedom of press shortcomings, which resulted in the suspension of the Gambia’s compact with the millennium challenge corporation (MCC) in June 2006. The Gambia became eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African growth and opportunity act (AGOA) on January 1, 2003.As of 2009, the United States exported $7 million of goods to the Gambia and imported $600,000 of good

The Gambia armed forces are about 5,000 strong. The army consists of infantry battalions, republican national guard (which comprises the state guard, Special Forces, and the guards battalion), and the navy, all under the authority of the ministry of defense. Prior to the 1994 coup, the Gambian army received technical assistance and training from the United States, United Kingdom, people's republic of china, Nigeria, and turkey. With the withdrawal of most of this aid, the army received renewed assistance from turkey and new assistance

from Libya and others. The Gambia allowed its military training arrangement with libya to expire in 2002. However, military assistance from the U.S. Has resumed and is steadily growing across the spectrum of Gambian security.

Members of the Gambian military participated in ECOMOG, the West African force deployed during the Liberian civil war beginning in 1990. Gambian forces have subsequently participated in several other peacekeeping operations, including, inter alia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, sierra Leone, Eritrea, Timor-Leste, and Darfur. The Gambia contributed 150 troops to Liberia in 2003 as part of the ECOMIL contingent. In 2004, the Gambia contributed a 196-man contingent to the un peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan. As of august 2010, the Gambia was contributing 2,156 peacekeepers to seven un missions (including unamid in Darfur, unmit in Timor-Leste, unmis in Sudan, unmil in Liberia, unoci in cote d’ivoire, and minurcat in central African republic). Responsibilities for internal security and law enforcement rest with the Gambian police under the inspector general of police and the minister of the interior.


The Gambia has an open-door, liberal trade policy. The country is seeking an export led growth through value added productivity and, to that end; the government is committed to elimination of tariff and non tariff barriers. There are no quantitative restrictions on imports and tariffs have been reviewed and lowered. Consequent upon this review a tariff rationalization has been effected and includes tariff reduction to a maximum of 18% and the reduction of tariff bands to four (4) economic groupings. Tariff levels in The Gambia will be subject to further review in order to ensure that The Gambia remains competitive.


The tariff regime of The Gambia is based on the Harmonized System (HS). Only eight (8) of the tariff lines are specific, whiles the rest are all ad-val orem rates. Most rates are below 30%,and only 0.5% of all the lines have a rate which exceed 40%.

The current tariff rates range from 0% (duty free) for some capital equipment, raw materials and goods imported by the government, to 90% on luxury goods. There are 31 rates in the HS-tariff schedule. There still exists much scope for refining certain areas of the tariff regime in order to evolve a more competitive schedule towards improved and liberal trade development in The Gambia.


The Gambia is an investment haven. This potential and promise is predicated upon sound and consistent macroeconomic policies, constitutional guarantees against expropriation of investment and for protection of investment The Gambia has an investment policy, which is premised on six important pillars/premises. These pillars essentially include: Liberal, free market economic environment together with appropriate political and social policy and programmed framework;

Adherence to the principles of democratic governance, constitutional guarantee of rights to freedom and liberty, welfare, property ownership and protection. In this regard, the country is constitutionally obliged to encourage, promote and protect beneficial investment as the enabler of socioeconomic change and progress.

Full integration into the wider global economy through her membership of and adherence to charters and principles of Economic Community Of WEST AFRICAN STATES, ORGANISATION OR AFRICAN UNITY, World Trade Organization, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), African Development Bank, The World Bank Group, ACP-EU Convention, Islamic Development Bank and a host of bilateral trade agreements among others. These testify to the national resolve at participation and integration in the global economy.

Articulation of policies and strategies to make The Gambia a trade and investment gateway to the Western Africa sub-regional and the larger African regional market. The uniqueness of the country's location on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, proximity to European and North American markets, a highly efficient port system, state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure, high water table and ideal climate for horticulture, unrivalled rich climate and sea resource for tourism and sea resource

exploitation amongst a host of other qualities, have placed the Gambia at a comparatively advantageous position to become the sub-regional hegemony in trade and services;

The Government of the Gambia is at an advanced stage of preparations for the implementation of the Trade Gateway Project, whose overall objective is to develop and promote The Gambia to become the regional center for processing, manufacturing, assembly, and distribution in West Africa. The project will facilitate the establishment of Free Zone Authority (FZA) and the creation of export processing zones, specially developed for activities that are export-oriented and involve warehousing, sorting, packing, minor processing and assembly. Investors will benefit from a number of one-stop-shop services and facilities, including the entire infrastructure they need for operating profitable investment undertakings.


The following minerals have been identified in The Gambia following some mineral exploration programmes conducted with the lead participation of the Geological Department. The Government continues to monitor research findings on the possibility for more mineral deposits, especially those with higher marketing value whilst staying mindful of conservation and environmental preservation issues. There are known deposits of:

a) Quartz Sand

Large reserves of quartz (silica) sand, suitable for glass manufacture, have been identified in the Greater Banjul Area, notably in Abuko, Brufut, Darsilami (Western Division); Mbankam and Bakendik (North Bank Division); and Kaiaf, (Lower River Division). The Government continues to seek interested investors to exploit these deposits b) Heavy Mineral Beach Sand Deposits The raised beach sand, which is characteristic of The Gambia's coastal beaches, contains ilmenite, rutile, and zircon. The deposits were briefly mined in the past and recently the Government is keen in attracting interested investors in exploiting the deposits. The estimated reserves of recoverable minerals yield a conservative total of about 995,000 tonnes at a 1% cut-off grade. Further investigations will be conducted to update the reserve base of these minerals.

c) Hydro Carbon Potential The Gambia depends on imported petroleum products. The government recognises the critical need for secure and stable supply of petroleum products and the need to stabilise prices to avoid induced inflation. The government therefore welcomes potential investors and collaborators in improving storage. In regards to petroleum prospects (hydro carbon potential), The Gambia has promising prospects and the government is relentlessly collecting, updating and storing the relevant seismic data and marketing the prospects to interested oil companies and businesses. d) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) All liquefied petroleum gas in The Gambia is imported overland from Senegal. LPG is mostly used for domestic purposes and on a limited scale for industrial purposes. Transaction costs in importing and bottling gas have resulted in large price differentials between Senegal and The Gambia. This makes gas unaffordable to most Gambians, and hence constituting a severe limitation on the promotion of the use of LPG.

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