- The Gambia has been little affected by the global crisis, maintaining sound growth rates, new statistics reveal. A drop in tourism revenues has been outweighed by the growing agricultural sector.
The surprisingly positive numbers were presented today by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had sent a mission that has stayed two weeks in Banjul to study recent economic developments in The Gambia and collect new data.
According to IMF mission leader David Dunn, The Gambia has been able to maintain solid growth during the international crisis. The Gambian GDP grew by an average of nearly 6½ percent during 2007-2009, new data show. Even in 2009, GDP growth remained strong, at just over 5 percent.
Although around half of this growth is consumed by The Gambia's still high population growth, the figures show that the average Gambian has improved his or her economy during the last few years.
According to the IMF analysis of the Gambian economy, most of the growth during the last years derives from a "continued rebound in agriculture." Agriculture in The Gambia has a great potential, but the sector had been neglected and poorly administered during most years since independence. Rather, governments had opted for less secure sectors such as re-exports and tourism. Recent investments in agriculture therefore are now paying off.
But The Gambia had not totally escaped the global crisis. In 2009, the country experienced "a sharp drop in tourism receipts," new figures had shown.
The backdrop in the key tourism sector however started before 2009. Most analysts agree that this sharp drop is not only due to the crisis in Europe - The Gambia could have joined the impressive growth of other cheap African destinations during 2009. The massive negative press abroad, caused by abusive statements and repressive acts by President Yahya Jammeh during the last years, had scared many potential tourists from travelling to The Gambia.
According to the IMF analysis, the trends experienced in the Gambian economy during the last years will continue in 2010. "Although tourism and remittances are expected to remain soft in 2010, real GDP is projected to grow at about 5 percent, led by solid growth in a number of key sectors, including agriculture," Mr Dunn said after his Banjul visit.
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