On the face of it, The Gambia has a bright future. The tiny, West African sliver was known only to few until making headlines for a successful and democratic change in government after 22 years. The new government was quick to respond to the overwhelming global support and has wasted no time in showing the world that The Gambia is open for business. But myriad challenges remain.
The WTO's Trade Policy Review of The Gambia, taking place within the first year of the new administration, was an opportune time to reflect on the state of the economy and deliberate on the type of policies and actions that could help the country better participate in global trade.
The Gambia is amongst the smallest and poorest countries in Africa and the economy is heavily reliant on services (particularly tourism). The tourism industry was badly hit by the recent Ebola outbreak in the region. Underperformances of the tourism industry lead to contraction in GDP growth.
Other challenges to growth were highlighted including government debt, a narrow tax base and insolvent and costly state-owned enterprises.
Only 18.5% of national roads are paved and the port experiences congestion. There is limited capacity for the Government to formulate policies and corporate governance.