The Gambia Economic Growth report identifies seven key sectors which are responsible for the Gambia's economic development. It is a sign of hope for the world as Gambia is a small country with a population of less than fifty million, yet has one of the strongest economies in Africa. This small nation, situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea, has to date, harnessed the vast potential of natural resources and has become the fastest growing economy in the region. The Gambia's key economic drivers are tourism and agriculture. They support each other and generate the bulk of the country's revenue.
Tourism represents the largest sector of the Gambia's economy. The tourist industry includes both domestic and international visitors who are drawn by the sun, the beaches and the diverse landscape of Gambia. Approximately forty percent of Gambian revenue is generated from tourism and this has been a major force in the recent economic growth. Major attractions such as the Mele Cascades and the Blue Mountain provide tourists with breathtaking scenery and serenity which entice thousands to visit every year.
Agriculture is the primary source of income for the majority of the Gambian people. The main agricultural produce produced is coffee, cocoa, citrus fruit, rice, wheat, maize, cotton and tea. These crops are relied on by the smallholder farmers who grow them and produce them in small scale farming and also for export. Aided by strong rural investment, the smallholders of Gambia are setting high rates of production so that they can bring down their over-all cost of production and pass it on to their customers.
By concentrating on agriculture, small farmers have managed to create millions of small jobs. Many of these jobs are provided by the small-scale agricultural enterprises in partnership with international agricultural companies. In addition, there is a burgeoning informal sector of employment including day-care centers, traders, gold mining, fencing and vehicle-waiting services. The rapid spread of AIDS and other epidemics in the rural areas has also created a large number of job openings in the rural Gambia. AIDS victims especially, who are still not employed, have found great opportunities in the informal sector as day care centers and small businesses have increased their employment opportunities. The Gambian government is now encouraging its people to return to school as this will open more job opportunities both in the urban and the rural regions.
Although agriculture is one of the major drivers of the Gambia's economic growth, the growth is underpinned by the development of private capital. The main reason why Gambian small farmers have been able to increase their productivity levels despite the overall declining agricultural production is because of the presence of private commercial capital. Private sector investment in agriculture and small business development has made possible the fertiliser and pesticides to be used in larger quantities, improved the irrigation system, modernized the technology used to harvest the agricultural produce and mechanized the processing plants. This has also helped the small farmers to access finance, enabling them to buy improved machinery and pesticides to increase the production levels.
One of the main drivers behind the Gambia's economic development is tourism. Tourism has played a key role in the development of the Gambia and the main areas of development include the tourism-based sectors such as beach tourism, jungle tourism, equestrian tourism, etc. . . . . . . As there is a high level of development in the tourism based sectors, more foreign tourists are visiting the Gambia to experience the different cultures and attractions. Most foreign tourists are predominantly from Europe and North America and most of them are looking for a relaxed and safe holiday. With the increasing number of tourists coming to visit the Gambia, the Gambian government is undertaking a number of promotional activities to attract more visitors to come to the Gambia.