Processing of peanuts and fish is the most important industry. The sector is small and lacks competitiveness. The industry is hampered by poor infrastructure and a lack of skilled labor.
Peanut oil is an important commodity. Some other agricultural products are also refined; Among other things, there is a cotton industry. Some small-scale manufacturing occurs for the domestic market, such as plastic items, building materials and beverages.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Gambia. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
Most of Gambia’s exports consist of so-called re-exports, ie goods imported with the country’s low tariffs and then re-exported. The most important own goods sold abroad are peanuts and fish, often in slightly processed form.
Wholesale exports, some of which are illegal, account for 80-90 percent of goods exports. The main market is Senegal, but goods are also sold to Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Mali. The management gives the Gambia large revenue, but the country may be on the verge of losing its competitive advantage over other countries in the region. On the one hand, other West African countries are improving import conditions, and on the other, work is underway to coordinate customs and VAT rates within the West African cooperation body Ecowas.
In addition to fish and peanuts, cashew nuts have become an increasingly important export commodity. Fruits, vegetables and cotton are also exported.
Food and machinery, other heavy industrial goods and fuel are purchased from abroad. Imports are significantly larger than exports. India and China have replaced the EU as the most important export markets, with around 80 percent of sales abroad now going there. China is the largest importing country.
FACTS – FOREIGN TRADE
US $ 129 million (2017)
US $ 426 million (2017)
– USD 111 million (2017)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
43 percent (2018)
Main export goods
peanut products, fruits and vegetables, fish
Largest trading partner
India, UK, France, China, Senegal
Tourism is of great importance to the economy and provides many jobs. The beautiful coastal beaches attract charter tourists, mainly from the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries.
For those who want to experience more than swimming and sun, there are a couple of national parks inland. Bird watching is popular. A historic slave fortress on Kunta Kinte Island in the Gambia River is found together with, among other things, the nearby Mandinka village Juffureh on the UN body UNESCO World Heritage List. Kunta Kinte Island was formerly called Saint James but was renamed 2011 (see Culture).
FACTS – TOURISM
Number of foreign visitors per year
161 000 (2016)
120,000,000 US dollars (2016)
The share of tourist income from exports
50.5 percent (2016)
Jammeh proclaims Gambia to “Islamic State”
President Jammeh calls Gambia an “Islamic State”. As a reason, he states that the country should be liberated from its colonial past. Jammeh points out that it does not imply a new dress code for women or restrictions on people of another religion. Otherwise, it is unclear what consequences the decision will have. Representatives of the opposition stress that the president cannot change the constitution, which stipulates that the Gambia should be a secular state, but that it is first approved in a referendum. On December 31, public service is introduced for women in public service.
Female genital mutilation is prohibited
The Gambia prohibits female genital mutilation.
Journalist is being prosecuted for rioting
Radio journalist Alagie Ceesay (see also July 2015) is charged with rioting, accused of spreading a photo of President Jammeh with a gun aimed at his head. Ceesay declares himself innocent.
The doomed are pardoned
President Jammeh pardons prisoners sentenced to death between 1994 and 2013. This occurs on the 21st anniversary of Jammeh’s takeover of power in 1994. prisoners sentenced for the 2014 coup attempt are also released. A former minister of justice, convicted of corruption, and a former national police chief, convicted of drug trafficking, are also among the released prisoners. However, Jammeh says nothing about the three soldiers sentenced to death for the 2014 coup attempt.
Reporters Without Borders raises alarm that Alagie Ceesay, a journalist at the independent radio station Teranga FM, has been gone for a week. The organization believes he has been abducted by people in the intelligence service. During the five years that the station has been, Teranga FM has been shut down by the government for three periods. Eleven days later, Ceesay is released when unknown perpetrators throw him out of a car near the airport. He states that he was beaten during captivity but cannot say who was behind the abduction.
Death sentences for coup attempt
Three soldiers are sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment for involvement in the failed coup attempt in 2014. Amnesty International criticizes the judges and the “secret trial”, where neither media nor independent observers have been present.
Gambling halls and casinos are prohibited
The president decides that all casinos in hotels and all gaming stores should be closed because gambling and betting are unethical.
American citizens are charged with planning a coup
Prosecutors in the United States are prosecuting three US citizens of Gambian origin for planning the coup against President Jammeh in December 2014 for the purpose of overthrowing him and installing Njie as new president. In March of that year, a fourth US citizen was indicted for the same.