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Gambia: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Gambia

For locals, business attire is often a mix of traditional clothes and western business outfits. Businessmen wear jackets and ties for business meetings. Women should ensure clothing covers the shoulders and reaches down to the knees.

A personal approach is important in Gambian business circles. It is advisable to take business cards; their use is appreciated though not universal. Offer business cards with your right hand; using the left hand is seen as an insult as it is used for toilet purposes and other unhygienic tasks. Gift exchanges are also common.

Between men, it’s common to greet each other with a handshake using the right hand; this is the same between women. Between men and women, verbal greetings are expected.

Office Hours

Mon-Thu 0800-1600, Fri 0800-1230.

Economy

The economy of The Gambia is basically agricultural, with rough wood accounting for 51% of total exports. Brazil nuts, coconuts and cashews account for 29%. Tourism is a significant generator of foreign exchange. Forestry and fishing are also important and banking is a new growth area. Rice is one of the main staples; some is homegrown, but most is imported. There are no viable mineral deposits. The small but fast-growing industrial sector is dominated by agro-industrial activities.

Government economic strategy aims both to stimulate agricultural productivity and position The Gambia as a regional hub for trade, finance and telecommunications.

Over the last decade, substantial infrastructural progress has been made (such as the opening of the Senegambia Bridge in January 2019) although wide-reaching investment in roads, public transport and power generation has been sporadic.

Overall, the economy has performed fairly well, achieving annual growth since 2000, with an estimated 6.6% growth in GDP in 2018. However, despite having benefitted from recent IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank debt relief initiatives, The Gambia remains dependent on international aid.

GDP

US$1.624 billion (2018).

Main exports

Rough wood, tropical fruits, non-fillet frozen fish, scrap iron and coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashews.

Main imports

Cotton, raw sugar, food, fuel, machinery and transport equipment.

Main trading partners

India, China, UK, South Korea and Senegal.

Keeping in Touch in Gambia

Telephone

There are telecentres in the major towns but these are under threat from mobile phones. The connection is generally good in main urban centres.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good around Banjul and most other towns, but patchy in remote rural areas.

Internet

Email can be accessed in internet cafes in major towns, where the connection is generally reliable.

Media

State-run Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS) broadcasts tightly-controlled news that is heavily pro-government. Private media are severely restricted, with radio stations and newspapers having to pay large licence fees. The government operates the only national television station, Gambia Television; Premium TV Network and Gam TV are private satellite channels. QTV is The Gambia’s first private television station. Radio Gambia transmits programmes in English and local languages.

A media bill passed in March 2002 was considered a threat to press freedom. The law set up a commission whose powers range from issuing licences to jailing journalists. In 2004, further legislation was introduced allowing for jail terms for journalists found guilty of libel or sedition. The assassination in 2004 of Deyda Hydara, an editor at The Point newspaper opposed to President Jammeh and one of the press law’s leading critics, further raised the stakes. Daily Observer and The Point are daily newspapers in English. Foroyaa and The Standard are other English publications that report on culture, politics and news.

Post

The postal service can be slow and unreliable; letters are generally ok but parcels and larger items frequently get lost. The main post office is on Russell Street, Banjul.

Post Office hours

Hours may vary but generally, Mon-Thu 0800-1215 and 1400-1600, Fri 0830-1215 and 1430-1600, Sat 0830-1200.

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