Gambia Country Report
Gambia's international image and attitude to investment are changing under President Adama Barrow, reflected in the commitment by international donors in May 2018 of USD1.7 billion over three years to help revive the economy and strengthen democratic institutions. China is being courted as the most likely source of major infrastructure, tourism, and agriculture projects, but Gambia is likely to be forced into a financial settlement over confiscated oil blocks if it wants to find new owners capable of moving to production. Security services full of Jammeh appointees at senior levels still need careful restructuring to avoid further instability, and the government raised concern in July 2018 over a recording in which Jammeh pledged to return from exile. The largely Senegal-suppliedECOMIG peacekeeping force remains in the country.
Industrial action has been rare due to former president Yahya Jammeh's regime's threatening of union leaders and workers alike, and the habit of organising strikes is likely to take time to acquire. Corruption is less significant than in most of West Africa, but is likely to increase gradually now the threat of possibly severe official retribution has been removed. Demands for facilitation payments had in any case remained common despite Jammeh's public claim of zero tolerance for such practices. Power and water shortages have become more frequent since the second half of 2017.
The Senegalese commander of the ECOMIG peacekeeping force in Gambia warned in July 2017 that exiled high-ranking former officials were plotting with hostile elements of the Gambian security forces. President Barrow has contended such claims are exaggerated, yet asked in January 2018 for the ECOMIG contingent to be doubled to 1,000 after previously being phased down. Only in September 2018 did Gambian soldiers take over responsibility for guarding the presidency when a group of 200 returned from training in Senegal. The risk of kidnap, sporadic armed attacks, and robbery by Casamance rebels along southern highways is diminishing further.
The departure in January 2017 of Yahya Jammeh as president virtually eradicates any risk of uninvited military incursions by Senegal which facilitated the eventual installation of Adama Barrow. However, the government expressed concern in July 2018 when the exiled Jammeh was heard pledging to return to Gambia in a recorded conversation with a senior official of his former ruling APRC party. This suggests some degree of organised resistance to central government control will persist in Jammeh's still volatile home region of Foni. On his first visit to Foni in March 2018, President Barrow openly accused local leaders of hosting Casamance separatist militants.
Political protest and civil unrest have been rare because of fear of arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention and torture under the Yahya Jammeh regime. The advent of competitive democracy will gradually bring more political and union demonstrations. Attempts to hold protests in November 2017 targeting utility supplier NAWEC were dispersed by police citing security reasons. The fatal shooting of three people protesting against sand mining in Faraba Banta on 18 June 2018 has focused attention on police ill-discipline and propensity to use violence, although five officers have been charged with murder and the police chief resigned, underlining a new era of accountability.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over nine months of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Gambia's climate is subtropical and the country experiences two seasons. During the dry season (October to June), the Harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind from the Sahara, often blows across the country between December to February. The rainy season lasts from July until November and often brings with it torrential rains and tornados. Temperatures are constant and high throughout the year and conditions are often sunny.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz