2013 Investment Climate Statement - The Gambia

2013 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
April 2013

Openness to, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Gambian government publicly espouses a liberal, open economic environment and free-market pricing, with a firm commitment to private sector participation in all sectors of the economy.

The government recognizes the potential of the private sector as an engine of growth and consequently maintains formal restrictions on private-sector investment only in sensitive areas like television broadcasting and defense. There is no legal distinction between the treatment of foreign and domestic investors.

The government's drive to attract foreign direct investment leapt forward in February 2002 with the launching of the Gambia Gateway Project funded by the World Bank. To implement the project, the government set up The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency (GIPFZA), whose primary task was to establish and manage Free Economic Zones (FEZs) around Banjul International Airport to promote private-sector development coupled with the core functions of an investment promotion agency to promote and facilitate investment. The incentives and guidelines for both local and foreign investors were clearly outlined in the Gambia Investment Promotion Act and Gambia Free Zones Act, both of 2001.

In July 2010, GIPFZA was restructured and transformed into the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) with an extended mandate to include export promotion and support for small and micro enterprise (SME) development. Under the GIEPA Act 2010, the former free zones are now called Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and the incentives that were provided under the now repealed GIPFZA laws have been enhanced to attract more investors. Other laws affecting foreign investment are the Companies Act of 1955 and the Business Registration Act of 2005.

The judicial system upholds the sanctity of contracts and there is no obvious discrimination against foreign investors. The Gambia is one of eight Sub-Saharan African countries that took advantage of a U.S. Department of State initiative in 2002 to provide sovereign credit ratings to increase transparency and attract foreign direct investment. Fitch granted The Gambia a C/CCC rating at the end of 2005 with a Stable Outlook. Fitch stopped issuing ratings for The Gambia in July 2007.

There are no economic or industrial strategies that have discriminatory effects on foreign investors neither at the time of the initial investment nor after the investment have been made.

There are no limits on foreign ownership or control of businesses except in the operations of foreign exchange bureaus, television broadcasting, and defense industries; the latter two sectors closed to all private sector participation irrespective of nationality. There is also an embargo on the setting up of private security companies, although existing firms are allowed to continue operating.

There is no mandatory screening of foreign investment, but such screening may be conducted if there is suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing.

Foreign investors are not denied national treatment (i.e. the same treatment as domestic firms) or MFN treatment (i.e. the same treatment as the most favored foreign investor) in any sector. As part of the country's privatization program, foreign investors are treated equally with local investors. In some recent privatization moves, the bidding process was not made public even though the entity decided in favor of foreign investors. The only tax that specifically applies to foreign investors is the Payroll Tax, which is paid for every expatriate employee of the company. There are no laws or regulations that limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control. There is also no restriction on the repatriation of profits so long as it is done through the banking system.

Foreign investors are encouraged to participate in privatization programs, particularly as what is described as a "strategic investor" with majority shares. In such cases, some shares are reserved for state corporations that are described as "institutional investors," some are reserved for Gambian private individuals and businesses, and a limited number of shares are reserved for the staff of the institution being privatized.

In two major privatizations in 2007, firms with Lebanese connections secured 50 per cent of the state-owned telecommunications and cellular phone companies and took over management of the state-owned electricity and water company. However, the contract with Spectrum, a little known Lebanese company that bought 50 per cent of the shares of the state-owned telecommunications company (GAMTEL) and its cellular phone subsidiary (GAMCEL), was terminated by the Government of The Gambia in November 2008. Prior to the termination, the government gave Spectrum a 72-hour ultimatum to provide an account of the state of affairs in GAMTEL. Immediately after the deadline elapsed, the government announced that the arrangement had been terminated because of "a fundamental breach of contract at the expense of the Gambian people."

The bulk of major investments in The Gambia over the past five years are in power generation, financial, and IT sectors. A company with Lebanese backers has invested heavily in providing power generators and in building a large fuel storage depot. In the financial sector, eight commercial banks, many of them Nigerian owned, have been established in the last six years, while numerous IT companies including two mobile phone operators have also set up business. The recently created Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency is expected to set up a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ that will significantly streamline the processes for investments and reduce the time it takes to establish a business.

In the past year, several delegations from Taiwan, Turkey, Nigerian, India, Qatar, and other Middle Eastern have visited The Gambia to explore possible investment opportunities in areas such as agriculture, tourism, and construction. In September 2011, the African Cashew Alliance held their annual conference in Banjul with a record attendance of over 300 participants including processors, traders, and investors. The Government of The Gambia subsequently identified cashew as a priority crop and GIEPA has now finalized a National Export Strategy.

The Government of The Gambia has also shown an increased interest in the U.S. private sector over the past year, specifically in mechanized agricultural equipment, private security, and infrastructure. A U.S. based advisory firm has been retained to explore these and other areas.



Index or Rank

TI Corruption Index



Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom index



World Bank’s Doing Business Report



MCC Gov't Effectiveness



MCC Rule of Law



MCC Control of Corruption



MCC Fiscal Policy



MCC Trade Policy



MCC Regulatory Quality



MCC Business Start Up



MCC Land Rights Access



MCC Natural Resource Management



Conversion and Transfer Policies

There are no restrictions on the conversion of funds into any freely usable currency or their transfer of investment-related funds into and out of The Gambia. There are no indications of an impending change of this policy. As a signatory to Article 8 of the International Monetary Fund, The Gambia operates a fully liberalized capital account. However, under the Money Laundering Act of 2003, the authorities may investigate any suspicious transactions.

Foreign currency becomes scarce during certain periods of the year and this, rather than any other reason, would be responsible for any delays in remitting investment returns. Delays are unlikely to exceed a few weeks. In 2003 and in November 2012, the Gambian government launched a major crackdown on illegal moneychangers operating on the streets who the authorities accused of speculating on the value of the local currency and consequently caused serious currency depreciation and spiked inflation. Although a few petty moneychangers are still operating illegally in tourist areas, at busy road junctions and outside public markets, there are currently 62 licensed FOREX bureaus and money transfer agencies with 294 branches across the country. Foreign investors are free to use the transfer agencies to both receive and remit funds.

Investors may repatriate profits and dividends through commercial banks or licensed money transfer agencies at prevailing exchange rates. Most commercial banks in The Gambia now operate foreign currency denominated accounts (FCDs), which were introduced by the Central Bank of The Gambia in 2001 to further facilitate international trade and foreign direct investment.

The banks do not issue dollar-denominated government bonds, but can issue cash or drafts drawn on overseas banks. There is no limit on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of profits, debt service, capital, capital gains, returns on intellectual property, or imported inputs. However, travelers through Banjul Airport are advised not to carry more than 300,000 dalasis worth of foreign currency (about US$10,000 dollars) in cash.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Gambian Constitution of 1997 provides the legal framework for the protection of private ownership of property and only provides for compulsory acquisition by the state if this is found to be necessary for defense, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning. Both the Constitution and the Compulsory Acquisition Act require the state to effect adequate and prompt compensation. The provision has generally been respected and there are no reports that claimants have found such compensation inadequate.

However, in April 2011, the Gambian government announced it had taken control of all Libyan assets in the country, which included a number of hotels and an amusement park in reaction to the crisis in Libya. In May, a high court judge ruled that the Gambian government can take control of the assets until a United Nations backed political force emerges from the crisis. There has been no further statement on the status of the properties even after the Transitional National Council assumed power in Libya.

In February 2008, the Government of The Gambia announced that it had cancelled the license it granted to an Australian mining company, Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd., in December 2005 to extract and process heavy mineral sands containing zircon, ilmenite, and rutile. The decision to cancel Carnegie's mining license came nearly a month after the government gave the company a 24-hour ultimatum to provide information about the type and quantity of minerals it had mined and the international value of tonnage already exported. The deadline was later extended for two weeks and after it elapsed, the authorities arrested the British manager of the company, Charles Northfield. He was charged with economic crimes, but the trial did not continue after Mr. Northfield jumped bail and left the country. It is not known if Carnegie Minerals has brought the matter for arbitration and there is no information that it has been compensated for the equipment it left behind in The Gambia.

The Gambian government has no tendencies to discriminate against U.S. investments, companies or representatives in expropriation.

There are no sectors that are at greater risk of appropriation or similar action. There are no laws that force local ownership or instances of "creeping expropriation" or governmental action tantamount to expropriation.

Dispute Settlement

The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Act 2010 and the Gambian legal code provide the mechanisms and legal framework for dispute settlement, either through negotiation or arbitration. Appeals against decisions of district tribunals (or the industrial tribunal in the case of labor disputes) may be lodged with the lower courts, the High Court and the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of appeal in the country.

The Gambian Government has accepted all court rulings on investment disputes and has been willing to discuss and honor out-of-court settlements. The last major dispute with foreign investors was with the Swiss group Alimenta over the assets of the Gambia Groundnut Corporation in 1998. This groundnut processing plant at Denton Bridge is the biggest industrial complex in the country and the government takeover sparked off a protracted legal battle. The government eventually settled out of court and paid Alimenta compensation of US$11.2 million. There have not been any further investment disputes.

The country's legal system is based on English common law and there are effective means for enforcing property and contractual rights. While there are instances of government attempting to interfere in the court system, the courts often resist such attempts and judgments of foreign courts are accepted and enforced by the local courts.

The Gambia has a written and consistently applied commercial law, which is found in the Companies Act. Monetary judgments can be made in both the investor's currency and local currency. The government accepts binding international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and the state and the courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards. International arbitration is accepted as a means for settling investment disputes between private parties. There are also domestic commercial courts presided over by high court judges that have the competence to arbitrate commercial and investment disputes.

The Gambia is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and although there is no specific legislation providing for enforcement of ICSID awards, the government has honored the decisions of international arbitrators.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) signed into law in 2010 sets out the administrative and legal requirements for investing in The Gambia and makes provisions for business incentives, protection against compulsory acquisition, settlement of disputes and the transfer of funds. The ultimate objective is to promote The Gambia as an investment haven by:

-- providing an attractive business environment and incentives for business activities in The Gambia;

-- facilitate the securing of permissions, licenses, land, and incentives required to establish a business enterprise;

-- attracting, promoting, and increasing the manufacture of goods and trade in goods and services;

-- coordinating, promoting, and facilitating investment in The Gambia;

-- advising government on investment policy and related matters;

-- promoting and facilitating the development of exports in The Gambia;

--promoting and facilitating the development of micro, small and medium enterprises;

Investments must fulfill the following criteria to qualify for special investment certificates:

-- investment outlay in fixed assets of at least US$250,000 (within two years) or its equivalent in Gambian dalasis or other freely convertible currencies at the time of application;

-- investment activities targeted in one of the priority sectors as specified in Schedule 1 of the GIEPA Act, which include: agriculture, fisheries, tourism, forestry, manufacturing, energy, skills development, financial and offshore services, health and veterinary, river and air transportation, information technology, minerals exploration and exploitation, and communications;

-- utilization of local materials, supplies and services;

-- creation of employment opportunities in The Gambia;

-- introduction of advanced technology or upgrading of indigenous technology;

-- contribution to locally or regionally balanced socio-economic development.

The Act establishes two priority investment categories namely; a) priority sectors, which consist of the list of sectors specified in schedule 1 of the Act and b) priority areas, which consist of geographical areas specified in schedule 11, considered by Government to be in urgent need of development. Special Investment Certificate (SIC) applicants shall be granted incentives if engaged within any priority investment category as specified under the GIEPA Act. Such investments will be entitled to the following incentives:

-- exemption from corporate tax, turnover tax, depreciation allowance, withholding tax on dividends for five years in the case of priority sector and for a maximum of eight years in the case of priority area;

A newly established investment enterprise that falls within a priority investment category under section 61 shall be granted import sales tax waiver in respect of the importation of:

(a) its manufacturing plant, construction materials, and spare parts for a period of five years from the date of signing of the investment agreement; and

(b) raw and intermediate inputs, for a period of five years from the date of commencement of operation; and

(c) the product listed in the third schedule to the Custom and Excise Acts.

-- preferential treatment for the allocation of land for the site of the proposed investment and infrastructure facilities (utilities and telephone);

The Act makes no discrimination between foreign and local investors and there are no requirements that nationals own shares or that the share of foreign equity be reduced over time.

Within the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) Act, there are attractive incentives for export and SMEs.

Citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other nations with a reciprocal visa abolition agreement with The Gambia do not require a visa to enter the country; whether on holiday or on a business trip not exceeding 90 days. Citizens of the US require an entry visa with at least one blank page on their passport for the stamp as per the rules and regulations of the immigration Act.

The Gambian Government does not maintain any measures that it has notified the WTO to be inconsistent with TRIMs or that violate the TRIMs text.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The Gambian Constitution guarantees the right of private ownership. Under the Company Act of 1955, there are no restrictions on the minimum or maximum share capital of a business venture, nor is there any compulsory requirement for equity participation by Gambian nationals in foreign-owned enterprises, except as described in Paragraph 9 in relation to privatization programs. Businesses may be wholly owned by foreigners or jointly owned with participation by local investors.

Organizational forms include:

- limited liability companies;

- unlimited companies;

- guarantee companies;

- partnerships;

- co-operatives;

- institutions established by act of the National Assembly (e.g., parastatals);

- branches of foreign businesses;

- sole proprietorship.

In those sectors where private businesses are in competition with public enterprises, there is no undue discrimination with regard to access to markets, credit, and other business facilities, such as licenses and supplies.

Private entities are free to establish, acquire and dispose of interests in business enterprises.

Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are protected by the Constitution and secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced. The concept of a mortgage exists and there is a recognized and reliable system of recording such security interests. The legal system fully protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights including land, buildings and mortgages.

The Gambia is a signatory to both the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In 2003, the country enacted its own Copyright Act. This law provides adequate protection for intellectual property, patents, copyrights and trademarks. The Government has also signed and ratified both the WIPO Copyrights Treaty and WTO TRIPS agreement. However, enforcement of these regulations and treaties is sometimes inadequate due to a lack of resources and expertise. The Gambia has not yet ratified the WIPO Internet Treaties.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

A Fair Competition Law was enacted in 2007 and a Fair Competition Commission was established in 2009. None of the existing laws and policies relating to tax, labor, environment, health, and safety are known to impede investment. Bureaucratic procedures, including those for obtaining licenses and permits are streamlined and could be significantly reduced with the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ facility expected under the new Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA).

Proposed laws and regulations are made available to all the relevant stakeholders for their review and discussion at validation workshops. During the process of enactment in the National Assembly, deputies are free to suggest changes.

In 2001, The Gambia established the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, a multi-sector regulatory authority that regulates the activities of providers of certain public utilities such as energy services (electricity, petroleum and gas), communications services (telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services), water and sewerage services and transport services PURA has been very successful in regulating service providers and ensuring transparency. PURA is responsible for providing licensing permits and acts as an advocate for the consumer.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

There are no policies in place that impede the free flow of financial resources in the product and factor markets. On the contrary the authorities facilitate the free flow of resources to support the government's growth agenda.

Foreign investors can acquire credit on the local market at prevailing interest rates if they are able to provide the requisite collateral or guarantee. There are limited credit instruments available to the private sector because the only money market instruments available are the government treasury bills.

Portfolio investment is also very low because, among other reasons, there is no formal stock market such as a stock exchange for trading equity securities. Only one Gambian bank, Trust Bank Limited, is listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

The estimated total assets of the country's 13 commercial banks at the end of 2011 were 18.7 billion dalasi (US$623.3 million). There is a sound banking system sound and only seven per cent of loans are non-performing.

There is limited "cross-shareholding" and no incidents of hostile takeovers.

Competition from State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)

Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations, such as licenses and supplies. However, public enterprises often have material advantages. State-owned enterprises are active in aviation, maritime services, public transport, power generation, telecommunications, road building and housing.

All SOEs have a Board of Directors which is appointed by their line ministry. Members of the Board usually comprise key stakeholders in the sector and some government officials who serve as ex-officio members. Management reports to the line ministry which has final responsible to approve Board decisions.

All SOEs are required to submit their annual report and audited accounts to the National Assembly. There is no Sovereign Wealth Fund in the country.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Generally speaking, the notion of corporate social responsibility is not well known in The Gambia and only some state-owned enterprises and some private companies such as banks and mobile phone companies adopt CSR as a policy. In most cases, their understanding of CSR is allocating funds to support various charitable causes such as supporting schools and health projects, disaster relief, and environment enhancement. However, the banks and GSM companies often use such donations as publicity and marketing stunts. These firms are often viewed favorably.

Both foreign and local enterprises do little in terms of adhering to the voluntary principles and standards for responsible business in areas such as employment and industrial relations, human rights, information disclosure, combating bribery, science and technology, competition, and taxation.

Political Violence

The Gambia has generally benefited from a peaceful political climate since independence in 1965. The country's only successful coup d'etat occurred in July 1994 and was accompanied by minimal violence. The military officer who took power in 1994 was elected president in October 2001 through elections, which foreign observers (Commonwealth, EU, U.S., etc.) deemed generally free, fair, and transparent, albeit with some shortcomings. As a result, the U.S. Government lifted section 508 sanctions shortly thereafter in April 2002. In September 2006, the country held a presidential election in which the incumbent, President Yahya Jammeh, was returned to office for a further term of five years. National Assembly elections were in held in January 2007 and local government elections took place in January 2008. In November 2011, President Jammeh was elected for a fourth consecutive time with 72% of the vote on turnout exceeding 83%. National Assembly elections were held in March 2012 and local government elections will take place in April 2013.

There have been no incidents of politically motivated damage to projects or installations. Various political parties are active, but there is no indication that civil disturbances are likely because of this. There are no nascent insurrections and relations with the country’s neighbors are generally peaceful. Skirmishes along Gambia’s southern border with Senegal have occurred in the past, but violence rarely intercedes into The Gambia.


Corruption exists, and the government continues its efforts to combat it. On June 28, 2012, the National Assembly passed the Gambia Anti-Corruption Act aimed at fighting official corruption. The law provides for the setting up of a permanent six-member Commission mandated to investigate and prosecute all crimes of corruption committed by Gambians within and outside the country. The Commission is yet to be established.

The Criminal Code also provides a legal platform for combating corruption. For example, in May 2011, a former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture was convicted on charges of “stealing by a person in public service” for fraudulently overpaying his travel per diem entitlement. He was fined 100,000 dalasi (US$3,300). In July 2011, a former Inspector general of Police was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on numerous charges including corruption.

U.S. firms have not identified corruption as a serious obstacle to foreign direct investment in The Gambia. The most recently reported case of corruption occurred in the collection of fees for government services. Traffic police and other junior police and immigration officers are often accused of corruption and solicitation of bribes. Accepting a bribe, irrespective of source, is a criminal act and the penalties are fines and imprisonment depending on the magnitude of the amount. Senior government officials take anticorruption efforts seriously, even though some of them have been investigated for corruption.

The police, the National Intelligence Agency and the Ministry of Justice are responsible for combating corruption.

Transparency International has a local representative in the country, and The Gambia was ranked 105 out of 174 countries in the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. The Gambia has signed and ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences, but has ratified neither the UN Convention Against Corruption nor the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

The Gambia has bilateral investment agreements with Mauritania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; however, only the agreement with Switzerland has come into force.

The Gambia does not have a bilateral investment treaty or a bilateral taxation treaty with the U.S.

OPIC and other investment insurance programs

The Gambia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) was not opened for business in The Gambia until the lifting of restrictions on bilateral assistance in April 2002. In 2003, OPIC conducted a study of The Gambia and listed it as having significant potential for investment.

The Gambian currency, the dalasi, has been generally stable against all major currencies but significantly depreciated in 2012. The current exchange rate used by the Embassy is 34 dalasi to the dollar and could depreciate further in 2013.

The country is likely to adopt the proposed common currency of the five-nation West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), the ECO, which it plans to launch in the near future despite several postponements.


The Gambia's total economically active population is estimated at 400,000. About 75 percent are engaged in agriculture; 18 percent in industry, commerce and services; and 7 percent in government. The Gambia suffers from high unemployment and underemployment, compounded by a shortage of skilled workers and trained professionals. Many of the skilled workers in the construction and mechanical industries are foreigners from neighboring countries. These workers are required by law to pay an annual registration fee of about US$54 and a work permit fee of about US$11.

The Labor Act of 1990, the 2007 amendments to the act, and its regulations, provide the legal framework for labor relations in The Gambia. The Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment enforces the act. It covers most conditions of employment, including dismissals, recruitment and hiring, registration and training, protection of wages, registration of trade unions and employees' organizations, and industrial relations in general. The Act also contains procedures for the settlement of disputes, including an industrial tribunal. Minimum wages and working hours are established through six joint industrial councils: commerce, artisans, transport, port operations, agriculture and fisheries. Private-sector employees receive between 14 and 30 days of paid annual leave, depending on length of service.

Labor and trade unions exist, but are not very active. Most workers are not unionized. The most active unions are for dock workers and workers in the transport sector. The Gambia Workers Confederation, formed in 1985, coordinates union activities. The confederation is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The confederation is not political but is increasingly active in negotiations on pay and employment conditions.

After being criticized for not implementing the ILO conventions banning the worst forms of child labor, the Gambian government took steps to pass new legislation updating the labor code to conform to the signed agreements. The Children's Act of 2005 raised the minimum labor age from 14 to 16 and holds corporate entities accountable for exploitative labor practices involving children on their premises with executive officers of these entities subject to fines and criminal liability for violations of the Act.

A regulation that set up the Expatriate Quota Board is intended to encourage businesses to hire qualified Gambian staff. For hiring an expatriate for a job that can be done by a Gambian, they are required to pay the equivalent of US$345 in tax annually. An amendment to the Payroll Tax Act approved by the National Assembly in April 2008 set the limit of non-Gambians that businesses can employ to 20 per cent, except in the case of specialized professionals.

Describe labor availability and note any shortages or surpluses of special labor skills. Also describe general labor-management relations, government/authority adherence to the ILO convention protecting worker rights, differential treatment of labor in foreign trade zones or free ports, policies encouraging or requiring hiring of local nationals, and the effects of labor factors on the use of technology.

What measures does the country/economy have in place regarding foreign companies and their local supply chains compliance with international labor rights standards (as defined by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO)) to which the country/economy is a party? If so, how are they enforced and is this enforcement adequate?

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports

The free zones that were established under the repealed Free Zones Act 2001 have been renamed Export Processing Zones (EPZ) by the new Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA). The aim of the EPZ is to provide a conducive business environment for export oriented investment enterprises through the provision of additional incentives, simplifying the import-export procedures and facilitating the acquisition of land, permits and licenses. The Act provides for export processing zones to be established in separate selected areas to which special customs territory status shall be conferred. The Act also provides for the establishment of single factory EPZs for which GIEPA will be the regulator.

The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency largely maintains the objectives of the former Gambia Gateway Project which were to transform The Gambia into a major gateway to the West African coast through significant improvements of its port and airport, and through onshore facilities to support export-related manufacturing. These objectives have now been complimented by a specific drive to focus on exports and small and micro enterprise development. An area measuring 164 hectares at Banjul International Airport has been designated an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and the first phase of this US$6 million project was completed in December 2005. An area of almost 9 hectares has been fully developed with factory space, access roads and electricity. The July 22 Business Park, as it is called, is designated as a mixed-use EPZ to allow both free zone and non-free zone activity. It is currently occupied by a garment, diaper and tissue manufacturing company. There are also some bonded warehouses at the Banjul port which have not yet been designated as EPZs.

An investor operating within an export processing zone that exports at least eighty percent of its output is exempted from the payment of:

(a) import or excise duty and sales tax on goods produced within or imported into an export processing zone unless the goods are entered for consumption into the customs territory;

(b) import duty on capital equipment;

(c) corporate or turnover tax;

(d) withholding tax on dividends;

(e) municipal tax;

An investment enterprise located outside an export processing zone that exports at least thirty percent of its output is entitled to the following incentives;

(a) a ten percent corporate or turnover tax concession for five years;

(b) financial planning services and advice;

(c) participation in training courses, symposia, seminars and workshops on export promotion;

(d) export market research;

(e) advertisement and publicity campaigns in foreign markets;

(f) product design and consultancy.

Incentives for investors in the EPZ are valid for maximum period of ten years.

Foreign-owned firms have the same investment opportunities as local companies. However, an American investor locally registered as Zain Group Limited, who approached GIPFZA for agricultural land during the period of its transition to the new agency (GIEPA), had to wait six months before the land was finally allocated. When the company’s workers moved in to survey the 25 hectares of land near the village of Siffoe, some villagers asked them to leave saying it was their traditional land. Zain Group has now been offered an alternative site to grow vegetables for export but work has not yet started.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

Foreign investment is present and visible in all sectors of the economy. Almost all the commercial banks operating in The Gambia have majority foreign ownership. Out of the 13 commercial banks in operation at the beginning of 2011, seven are Nigerian-owned, two are regional, one is British, one is Malaysian, one is Lebanese-owned and only one has majority Gambian shares. The telecommunications industry has also considerable Lebanese presence with two of the four cellular phone companies owned by Lebanese interests. The national electricity and water company, NAWEC, is also managed by a company with Lebanese interests, Global Electrical Group (GEG). The same group has also invested millions of dollars to build a large fuel storage depot which holds the country's supplies. The tourism sector is dominated by Scandinavian, British, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch and Lebanese investments. A Kuwaiti firm, M.A. Kharafi & Sons, also has significant investments in the tourism sector having bought the Kairaba Beach Hotel and built the country's first Sheraton branded hotel and conference center.

The trading sector has a heavy presence of Lebanese, Indian, Mauritanian, Senegalese and Nigerian businesses. Kuwaiti-owned M.A. Kharafi has invested heavily in agriculture and has also secured contracts for extending the runway and refurbishing the terminal building at Banjul International Airport as well as upgrading most of The Gambia's trunk roads network.

Only a small number of U.S. firms have invested in The Gambia. A number of U.S. citizens have set up small businesses in The Gambia and several U.S. brand companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram, UPS, Sheraton, Motorola and Coca Cola are represented here.

Since the establishment of the defunct GIPFZA in 2002, 138 projects have been awarded the Special Investment Certificate (SIC) or the Export Promotion Zone License (EPZL) by the agency. Of these, several were fully established and 58 remained operational as at end December 2012. These companies are now handled by GIEPA and they operate in various sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, ICT, tourism and services. They have created more than 4,600 direct jobs. By the end of 2012, total actual investment of all projects registered with agency is estimated at about US 211.83 million.

List of Operational Projects with Investments of US$100,000 and Above Registered with the Former GIPFZA and the New GIEPA

(As of end December 2012)

Name of Company

Country of Origin


West African Resort & Casino



Sheraton Resort & Spa



West African Aquaculture



International Commercial Bank


Financial Services



IT/ Mobile Communications

Jerma Company Ltd.



Gam-Petroleum Storage Facility



Gamwater Company Ltd



TAF Holding Company



Access Bank (Gambia) Ltd


Financial Services

Atlantic Seafood Company



Walo Development Enterprises



Comfort Quality Services



Kafuta Fresh Produce (Kharafi FZ)



Mecalite Ltd



Golden Beach Hotel



Fine Water Company Limited



Cosmos Industrial Company Ltd



African Safari Company



West African Pearl



Quantum Net



Salam Company Limited



Swami India International Ltd

India Sand Mining

India Sand Mining

Global Electrical Group Ltd.



Reliance Financial Services


Financial Services

Nice Gambia Ltd



Lemon Creek Hotel





Mobile Communications

Unique Solutions



Radville Farms Ltd.



Hydara Foam Manufacturing Co.



Kombo Farms Company Ltd.





Financial Services

Sandele Eco-Retreat



AHS Holding Ltd.



Rue Chicken Company Ltd



A & A Industries Ltd.



Takaful Gambia Ltd.









Empass Poultry processing Limited



Elton Depot


Air Cargo and Fuel Depot

Chellarams Soap and Spirits



Greentec Company Limited