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The Gambia

Country Overview

Government and legal system: Republic. The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty; tensions have flared up intermittently since.

Political trends: Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president. A new constitution and presidential elections in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. Jammeh has been elected president in all subsequent elections, most recently in late 2011.

Economic data

Currency: Dalasi (GMD)

Inflation: 4.4% (2011)

GDP: US$ 903.5 million ‎(2013)

GDP per capita: US$ 488.57 (2013)

Exports: peanut, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels, re-exports

Growth rate: 3.2% (2013)
Unemployment: 6% (from 2003 to present)
Inflation: 4.4% (2011)

Budget Balance: US$ 163.7 million (2013 est.)
Commercial Balance: US$ 251.2 million (December 2013 est.)

Infrastructure:  one airport and one port, both in Banjul; 3,742 km of road ways (744 km paved) and 390km of waterways

Reserves: US$ 695 million (2013 EST.)

Credit Ratings:

Standard & Poor local currency: B/Positive/B

Standard & Poor foreign currency: B/Positive B

Fitch local currency: B

Fitch foreign currency (long-term/short term): B/B

Table 1: Macroeconomic indicators

[supsystic-tables id=7]

SourceData from domestic authorities; (e) estimates and (p) projections based on authors’ calculations.


Geographical data

Capital: Banjul

Main towns: Banjul, Serrekunda, Bakau, Brikama, Farafenni, Basse

Area:   11,295 sq km

Climate: Tropical; hot rainy season (June to November) and cooler dry season (November to May)

Terrain: Flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

Land Use:  Arable land 27.88%, permanent crops 0.44%, other 71.68% (2005)

Natural Hazards: Drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Environmental issues:  Deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent



Demographic data

Population: 1.71million
Demographic growth: 2.23% (2014 est.)
Life Expectancy: 57.84 years
Literacy: 46.5%
Religion: Muslim 90%; Christian 9%; traditional 1%
Human Development Index: 175 of 187 countries (UNDP 2014)
Transparency International Ranking: 126 of 175 countries



Labor force: 776,045 (2011)

Minimum wage: $33.75/month

Legal Working Hours: 48 hours

Gambia’s Cashew Industry

Gambia produces 10,000 MT of cashew annually. Production is concentrated in the zones indicated on the map below.



Cashew processing

Total Processing Capacity: 4,000 MT

Processing Capacity Utilization: 10%. Cashew processing is mainly in the Brikama Industrial Area; further small-scale processing facilities are located on the North Bank of the Gambia River.



Operating processors

  • Gambia Horticultural Enterprises (GHE)
  • IRD Small Scale Processors
  • Cashew Gam Company Ltd


Non-operating processors

  • Popular Investment Company
  • Langfadama
  • Terinfin
  • North Bank Region Cashew Association



Infrastructure and Regulations



  • Production zones are close to processing locations
  • 5 commercial banks and one central bank lend funds for trade and processing
  • Easy land facilitation – long-term leasing for abandoned locations
  • Cheap, locally-available labor
  • Stable currency
  • Raw material offers high yield and good quantity
  • Young organic cashew plantations


Tax incentives

  • Initial 5 years for new investment free from industrial tax
  • Import tax exemption facilities for agro-industrial equipment
  • 0% export tax on cashew kernel export


Freight costs: 20-foot container to USA/Europe costs US$ 4,000



Governmental and Non-Governmental Agencies



  • Ministry of Commerce and Industry – for commercial import and export licenses; Industry license.
  • Ministry of Finance – for tax registration
  • Ministry of Agriculture – for phytosanitary certificate for export purposes.
  • Ministry of Justice – for legal registration of company.
  • Municipal Committee – for publication of company registration in National Bulletin
  • Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) – for Investment Code, information about requirements, facilities and benefits of investment in Gambia, and for submissions of project proposals





  • IRD (International Relief and Development) – NGO working to improve food security by providing training to cashew farmers, seeds for a higher yielding variety of cashew trees, new techniques, nutrition education, land management practices, and also establishing small-scale units to process all parts of the cashew fruit and nut.
  • Gambia Cashew Sector Development and Export Strategy – 2014-2019 project, recently made possible with the support of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF); the commitment of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, International Trade Centre (ITC), Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA); as well as the active participation of various intermediary organizations including the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), International Relief and Development (IRD), national cashew farmers’ associations and federation, and the Cashew Alliance of The Gambia (CAG).
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