Gambia: EU promises new government strong support

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Gambia’s president elect Adama Barrow

The Gambia’s president elect, Adama Barrow, has told journalists that European Union delegates who have met their administration since their historic victory have promised to give development support to the small country to help it fix its economy and infrastructure.

EU is Gambia’s traditional ally but it has blocked tens of millions of Euros in aid to the small country in recent years due to concerns over human rights violations during Jammeh’s rule.

“We have met the EU delegations three times and they are more than willing to give more than what they were giving to The Gambia… My team and the EU will meet by the 15 of this month to discuss issues of mutual interest,” Barrow told journalists.

“The economy, the poverty level in this country, is at a breaking point but I think Gambia was saved on December 2… We were civilisely sanctioned but we were encouraged by the international community assuring us that they will work with Gambia… They are even saying come we start now.”

Grappling with weakened public institutions and shortage of foreign direct investment, Gambia has a public debt of about 110% of its GDP, estimated D47 billion.

And 48% of the 1.9 million people of Gambia are living below a dollar a day, the income poverty determinant for the World Bank while poverty from a multidimensional perspective which is determined by looking into healthcare, education, energy access and others is about 58% of its population.

The poor country with a budget of little over D14 billion also has wage bill of close to D3 billion, thus Gambia government was advised in past years to conduct an austerity measure in its highly “inefficient and overstaffed” civil service.

Agriculture also used to employ 71% of the country’s population but it has declined to employing 31 percent of the population in recent times while the service sector took the lead.

Gambia, which exports peanuts and rosewood, is one of Africa’s slowest growing economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says.

More than 10,000 Gambians have arrived in Italy by sea this year, having crossed the Sahara and the Mediterranean, making them more likely than any other African nationals to take what is known locally as “the back way”, EU data shows.

“I have received congratulatory messages from countries, international organizations and many donors indicating interest in giving support to the Gambia ,like never before, opening up new avenues for progress and prosperity for the country and her people,” Barrow said in an address to the nation yesterday. 

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