An African Development Bank mission, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, visited Banjul, the Gambian capital, from February 1-4, 2017 in order to engage with the new authorities and discuss the modalities of forthcoming Bank engagement.
The AfDB team was led by Adalbert Nshimyumuremyi, Acting Resident Representative, and included Kossi Robert Eguida, Principal Country Program Officer; Yannis Arvanitis, Principal Country Economist; and Habiba Ben Barka, Senior Political Economist.
The mission met with President Adama Barrow, as well as with the Minister of Finance, Amadou Sanneh; the Governor of the Central Bank; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance; and key partners with presence in The Gambia. The mission team also had a series of technical level meetings that allowed to gain a better grasp of the economic and political situation on the ground.
On the economic front, the situation is dire. The deficit is unsustainable, driven by a massive internal debt whose payments drain about 7% of GDP. State-owned enterprises are also problematic, draining the budget and not delivering.
During the mission, the AfDB delegation and the Government jointly organized a workshop on February 2, 2017 on portfolio review. The workshop served as framework for the assessment of the status of the implementation of the last Country Portfolio Improvement Plan (CPIP) and to identify measures to address the constraints affecting the portfolio performance in The Gambia. Participants in the workshop came from various institutions, notably government officials, representatives of line ministries, project coordinators, and the Bank team. The last Country Portfolio Improvement Plan (CPIP) has been updated. The workshop increased the skills of participants in problem analysis methodology and contributed to the effectiveness of the project implementers, with the goal of improving the prospects of high and satisfactory project implementation. Overall, The Gambia's portfolio performance is satisfactory.
As of January 31, 2017, the African Development Bank Group's ongoing portfolio in The Gambia consisted of five national public-sector operations. The total commitment value is UA 32.95 million (USD 44.15 million) of which UA 13.44 million (USD 18 million) has been disbursed (40.8%). In addition to national public operations, the Bank Group's portfolio includes four public multinational operations totaling UA 79.80 million (USD 107 million), including the Trans-Gambia Bridge project valued at UA 63.55 million (USD 85.15 million). The disbursement rate of regional operation is 26.6%. The first private-sector operation financed by the AfDB Group in The Gambia was approved in April 16, 2014, namely the Horizons Clinic Gambia Project valued at UA 6 million (USD 8 million).
The AfDB's team focused discussions on the implementation of the Trans-Gambia River Crossing Project. Although delays occurred in the construction of the bridge compared to original plans due to slow responsiveness from national authorities, the presentation made by the project coordinator shows that significant progress has been made. The total disbursement for works and services currently amount to UA 19.88 million (USD 26.63 million), or 31% of the total project cost.
The joint AfDB-World Bank mission to The Gambia was well received by the new authorities. It allowed AfDB team to take stock of the political and economic situation of the country, and to ensure that all projects are on track to deliver. The positive outcome is that the new administration is fully committed, and highly appreciated the Bank team visit. This was reiterated several times by the Gambian President.