2013 Index of Economic Freedom

The Gambia

overall score58.8
world rank92
Rule of Law

Property Rights30.0

Freedom From Corruption35.0

Limited Government

Government Spending82.7

Fiscal Freedom75.1

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom59.5

Labor Freedom59.3

Monetary Freedom71.1

Open Markets

Trade Freedom60.5

Investment Freedom65.0

Financial Freedom50.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 1.8 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $3.5 billion
    • 3.3% growth
    • 5.2% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $1,943 per capita
  • Unemployment:
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 4.8%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $36.0 million
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The Gambia’s economic freedom score is 58.8, making its economy the 92nd freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score is the same as last year, reflecting gains in investment freedom, business freedom, and freedom from corruption offset by declines in labor freedom and the control of government spending. The Gambia ranks 11th out of out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is just below the world average.

The Gambia continues to experiment with economic reforms aimed at improving growth, competitiveness, and fiscal and trade policies. Positive results from measures to improve fiscal transparency and the budget process have not been sustained. Some progress has been made in streamlining bankruptcy procedures, but the overall regulatory regime remains burdensome.

A poor judicial system has diminished the government’s ability to protect property rights, limiting dynamic development of the private sector. Corruption and continued protectionism are major impediments to economic freedom. Despite some reforms in customs automation, tariffs and investment restrictions continue to hurt productivity growth.



Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh ousted President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in a military coup in 1994 and won flawed multi-party presidential elections in 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011. Legislative elections in 2012 resulted in a major win for Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, but the election was boycotted by opposition parties and outside monitoring agencies, which judged it to be neither free nor fair nor transparent. Government restraints on civil liberties and political opponents have included imprisonment of journalists without charges. The Gambia has few natural resources. Agriculture employs 70 percent of the labor force and accounts for 24 percent of GDP. Industry and services account for approximately 12 percent and 59 percent of GDP, respectively. Groundnuts account for over half of exports. Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange. Infrastructure is improving but remains inadequate, with frequent power shortages and poor roads.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 30.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Freedom From Corruption 35.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Inefficiency and pressure from the executive branch continue to undermine equity within the judicial system. Intimidation of lawyers, lack of independence, and lack of technical support severely undermine the administration of justice. The law provides inadequate protection for intellectual property rights. The president retains a firm grip on power through a combination of patronage and repression.

Limited GovernmentView Methodology

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 33 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and a sales tax. The overall tax burden is equal to 13.2 percent of GDP, and government spending is equivalent to 24 percent of total domestic output. The deficit has moderated, but public debt has surged to 68.8 percent of GDP. Reforms of tax administration and spending are underway to shore up government financial stability.
The business environment remains hampered by continuing regulatory inefficiency. Although there is no minimum capital requirement, business start-up costs exceed the level of average annual income. Obtaining necessary permits takes over 100 days. Chronically high unemployment and underemployment persist in the inefficient labor market. Inflation has moderated.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

The trade-weighted average tariff rate is high at 14.8 percent, adding significantly to the cost of trade. Foreign and domestic investments generally receive equal treatment, but the overall investment environment remains poor. The financial sector has gradually expanded and benefited from increased competition. Almost all commercial banks are majority-owned by foreign banks, and credit to the private sector has been rising.

Open MarketsView Methodology

Population: 1.8 million

Country's Score Over Time

Bar Graph of The Gambia Economic Freedom Scores Over a Time Period

Country Comparisons

Bar Graphs comparing The Gambia to other economic country groups

Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
4Cape Verde63.70.2
6South Africa61.8-0.9
10Burkina Faso59.9-0.7
11The Gambia58.80.0
22Mozambique 55-2.1
24Côte d'Ivoire 54.1-0.2
31Central African Republic50.40.1
36Sierra Leone48.3-0.8
37São Tomé and Príncipe 48-2.2
42Republic of Congo 43.5-0.3
43Equatorial Guinea42.3-0.5
44Democratic Republic of Congo39.6-1.5
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