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Gambia electionOver the past decade, Africa has seen enormous growth and transformation that have expanded opportunities and improved living conditions for millions of people. However, there are significant risks that this momentum could be undermined by important pressures –including continuing patterns of exclusion and poverty, unemployment, climate change and poor management of natural resources. Africans are affected by fragility, with significant regional spill-over effects. Development prospects are particularly at risk. To respond to these challenges, the African Development has prioritized support for Fragile and Conflict Affected States in its Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022). It recognizes the need to thrive for more in-depth knowledge on the root causes and drivers of country fragility. The latter knowledge is essential in prescribing the appropriate policies, actions and measures that could be implemented to mitigate the identified risks at country level.

In this context that the AfDB has entrusted to CGA’s Giulio de Tommaso the responsibility  to carry out an assessment of the risks of fragility in The Gambia and to identify opportunities to build and strengthen resilience in the country. The Gambia is a small economy with no significant natural resources. Groundnut-based agriculture, tourism and an incipient service sector are the only mainstays of the economy. Due to both the limited economic base and the perceived repressive and intolerant climate, Gambians had fled the country in high numbers. As a result, remittances amounting to about one-fifth of GDP continue to be the single most significant factor in allaying poverty levels in the country. Diminishing rains have had a negative impact on agricultural production and tourism, and other related activities. Additionally the Gambia is plagued by poor governance and corruption which exacerbate its difficulty systemic and economic conditions.

The fragility of the Gambia has come to international attention in recent weeks as the country celebrated its first successful transfer of power, putting a dramatic end to the rule of former president Yahya Jammeh, who, after 22 years lost the elections in December to Adama Barrow, a real estate developer.   Despite this positive outcome for The Gambia, the risks for fragility and conflict remain and can have a devastating effect on both the sub-region and the World. Indeed, despite its small size the Gambia has netted the second largest number of migrants reaching the Coasts of Spain and Italy, further exacerbating an international migration crisis.

With this report, AfDB is in a better position to understand how its involvement may help prevent institutional failure and conflict in countries such as The Gambia.