Economy - overview: 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 hides. 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.
Tourism in this country has three major strands. There is the traditonal "sun, sea and sex" 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.
Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid and on responsible government economic management as forwarded by IMF technical help and advice. Annual GDP growth is expected to fall to less than 4% over 2000-01.
The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy 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.
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 and forestry 0.5%. 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.
In FY 1999 the U.K. and other EU countries were The Gambia's major domestic export markets, accounting for 86% in total; followed by Asia at 14%; and the African subregion, including Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Ghana at 8%. 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 Cote d'Ivoire and other African countries at 17%. The Gambia reports 11% of its exports going to and 14.6% of its imports coming from the United States.
- purchasing power parity $1.4 billion (1999 est.)
- real growth rate: 4.2% (1999 est.)
- per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,030 (1999 est.)
- composition by sector:
- agriculture: 23%
- industry: 13%
- services: 64% (1997 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (1999 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 million kWh, entirely from fossil fuels (1998)
- consumption: 70 million kWh (1998)
- Electricity is not imported or exported from The Gambia.
Agriculture - products: peanuts, 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, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Senegal, Belgium (1997)
Debt - external: $430 million (1997 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $45.4 million (1995)
Currency: 1 dalasi (D) = 100 butut
Exchange rates: dalasi (D) per US$1 - 11.626 (November 1999), 10.643 (1998), 10.200 (1997), 9.789 (1996), 9.546 (1995)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June