On 2nd December 2016, Gambians with great courage, determination and dignity decided to take back their country following 22 years of dictatorship. During this period, the abuse of power and total disregard for our constitution, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights of citizens reigned supreme. This historic decision that ushered in the “new Gambia” has created a seismic shift in our country’s trajectory since gaining independence in 1965. It heralds a new chapter in our history and offers a renewed opportunity to build a modern accountable state based on the foundations of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and security and prosperity for all. However, it also presents new challenges that need to be urgently addressed.
My government inherited an extremely challenging legacy manifested in a broken economy, gross abuse and plunder of our meager state resources, social regression, poor and dilapidated infrastructure, and wide-ranging societal challenges, among the most urgent of which is the frustrations and lack of opportunities for our young people. The latter has propelled thousands of our young people to undertake the risky journey, often with tragic consequences, across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better future. Similarly, many of our able and distinguished sons and daughters in the Diaspora were forced to live in exile due to the repressive environment that prevailed thus, depriving the country of vital human capital and resources needed to fuel the growth and economic and social transformation of our society.
Since coming to power, we have undertaken many measures to stabilize the economy, restore public confidence and strengthen democratic institutions. However, we are also aware that more must be done, and urgently. That is why I tasked government to draw up a new National Development Plan (NDP) to provide greater clarity and focus for government action, citizens’ engagement and also for our development partners who are eager and stand ready to assist us.
The National Development Plan 2018-2021 presented in this document is the fruit of these endeavors. Through its eight strategic priorities and their critical enablers, my government aspires not only to lay the foundations for a modern democratic state but also to address the most pressing economic and social ills besetting our society. The plan through its robust accountability framework, responds to my concern to ensure a strong focus on results, sound monitoring and evaluation processes, as well as strengthened engagement between government and the country’s citizens, including those in the Diaspora. As you will see, the plan also provides for the setting up of a Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) system that will allow me to personally follow plan implementation in certain critical areas. This will complement and enhance the sector level Monitoring and Evaluation processes provided for in the plan.
If we are to realize the vision and goal of this plan, creating a secure and stable environment, nurturing strong social cohesion and safety and peace are critical. My government, with the assistance of the UN, EU, ECOWAS and other partners has therefore also embarked upon a robust security sector reform process, aimed at bringing the security services fully under civilian democratic control, ensuring that the force’s structures and manpower are appropriate for our national security needs, and that the men and women in our armed and uniformed services can play a meaningful and positive role in national development.
I call upon all Gambians to make this NDP their plan, to seriously interrogate themselves on how best they might contribute to its realization and most importantly to hold us to account when we fall short, in a constructive and positive spirit of nation-building. I am convinced that the courage and determination shown by Gambians in defeating tyranny and oppression can be successfully harnessed to also help us overcome our challenges and ensure that together we fully realize the vision and goal of this National Development Plan.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all friends of The Gambia – bilateral friendly governments and multilateral institutions, who have stood by us during trying times and continue to do so. I look forward to strengthened collaboration and partnership as we move from plan formulation to full implementation.
His Excellency Adama Barrow
President of the Republic of The Gambia
Where are we coming from?
The Gambia is at the cusp of a historic transition brought on by a groundbreaking development on 2nd December 2016, when the Gambian people voted out of office the former President Yaya Jammeh who ruled the country for 22 years.
During that period, The Gambia’s governance landscape was characterized by a system of arbitrary one-person rule, which subjugated the population to gross human rights violations, terror and serious abuses of office. Similarly, on the security front, the armed services did not play their part in upholding the constitution and defending the sovereign will of Gambians. Consequently, the government with the support of partners (United Nations, European Union and Economic Community of West African States) has embarked upon a security sector reform aimed at bringing the security services under full democratic civilian control.
There is a direct correlation between the denial of fundamental freedoms and the bad governance that existed under the previous regime on the one hand, and the dire economic and social situation inherited by the new government on the other.
Thankfully, with the help of Providence, the determination of the country’s citizens, the efforts of the new government, as well as the assistance of the international community that dark chapter in Gambia’s history is now a thing of the past.
However, despite the new democratic dispensation, the country is faced with a difficult economic and social situation:
- a) A stalled economy arising from several shocks:
these include a poor 2016/17 agricultural season, which drastically reduced the groundnut crop; a severe contraction of tourism receipts during the traditional high season, and volatile oil and commodity prices. Estimates put the combined losses from these shocks at $US 31 million or 3 per cent of GDP. Furthermore, gross international reserves also declined to $ US 60 million or 1.6 months worth of import cover (2016).
- b) Economic mismanagement and massive theft by the previous regime:
this has resulted in further fiscal shocks. Theft from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has been estimated at 4 percent of GDP per year since mid-2014.
- c) The country is in external debt distress:
it has an unsustainable public debt, which stands at D 48 billion ($ US 1 billion) or 120 percent of GDP. Because of this, debt servicing consumes a huge amount of government revenue, leaving very limited fiscal space for financing critical infrastructure and human capital development needs. This is also denying our private sector access to finance and credit, vital for its growth and expansion.
- d) An acute electricity crisis:
this arises from the inability of the sector to meet domestic demand or for economic activities.
- e) Agriculture:
the sector has not significantly contributed to poverty reduction as 91 percent of the rural poor work as farmers while the sector continues to be relatively undiversified, mainly smallholder-based and characterized by rain-fed subsistence farming.
- f) Tourism:
this industry is challenged by poor destination recognition/attractiveness; dwindling product quality; undiversified products; limited air access and reliance on tour operators; security; and environmental degradation.
- g) Trade:
the trading landscape is marked by declining and stagnant domestic exports and an increasing growth in imports, which has led to a 30-year continuous current account deficit (except 2003 and 2007).
- h) Education:
while advances have been made with regards to enrollment rates and girls’ education at the primary level, the issue of quality and relevance of the curriculum and learning materials continues to be a source of serious concern.
- i) Healthcare:
The Gambia’s strong primary healthcare (PHC), which was a model for other countries has deteriorated over the past years and is no longer able to serve the population adequately.
- j) Women’s Empowerment:
gender equality and women’s empowerment are still major challenges in Gambian society.
- k) Youth:
poor and inadequate education continues to limit the youth’s productivity and the acquisition of skills. Meanwhile, insufficient access to knowledge and information (including business development services for the entrepreneurial youth) is hindering their gainful engagement.
Efforts to fight poverty have also proven ineffective with poverty levels remaining unchanged in the past decade (the percentage of households living below the poverty line of 1.25 $/day was 48.4 percent 2010 and 48.65 percent in 2015). The average GDP growth of 3 percent per annum has barely kept up with the population growth of 3.1 percent.
There is a rising rural poverty and a growing gap between rural and urban Gambia with regards to access to health, education, and basic services. While the proportion of the households living below the poverty line is 31.6 percent in urban areas, the proportion rises to 69.5 percent for rural Gambia. The rural areas account for 42.2 percent of the country’s population, but they hold 60 percent of its poor.
Through this National Development Plan, Government will act decisively to address poverty, particularly rural poverty, and close the growing gap in access to basic services between the predominantly urban western part of the country, and the rural poor predominantly found in the east of the country.
Government is committed to serious economic reforms. The historic transition to democracy opens up many possibilities that could spur growth and restore the country’s economic stability.
Since assuming office, the government has taken many significant measures:
There is a marked reduction in domestic borrowing. This is already bringing down the prime interest rate; from 23 percent before the elections in December 2016, to 18 percent in June 2017.
The government has reviewed the 2017 Budget with a view to lowering the budget deficit down. This has led to a reduction of government expenditure of about 1 percent of GDP. The budget of the Office of the President has been cut by 75 percent.
Youth issues are receiving a priority. The first project signed by the new government is focussed on youth empowerment through funding from the European Union (EU). The 11million Euro project focuses on youth employment creation and aims to provide high-quality skills training for potential youth entrepreneurs and start-ups.
The government has also concluded budget support agreements with key development partners such as EU (D 1.25 billion), the World Bank ($ US 56 million), the African Development Bank ($ US 7 million) and others to stabilize government finances.
What is our Vision and Goal?
Seven cross-cutting critical enablers will complement the eight strategic priorities of the plan:
- A public sector that is efficient and responsive to the citizenry;
- Empowering the Gambian Woman to realize her full potential;
- Enhancing the role of the Gambian Diaspora in national development;
- Promoting environmental sustainability, climate resilient communities and appropriate land use;
- Making The Gambia a Digital Nation and creating a modern information society;
- A civil society that is engaged and is a valued partner in national development; and
- Strengthening evidence-based policy, planning and decision-making.
Through these strategic priorities and critical enablers, the National Development Plan both domesticates and serves as an instrument for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of the African Agenda 2063.
The government’s goal is to “deliver good governance and accountability, social cohesion, and national reconciliation and a revitalized and transformed economy for the wellbeing of all Gambians”.
The Government’s vision for the “new Gambia” is “a country that upholds the highest standard of governance, accountability and transparency; where social cohesion and harmony prevails among communities; citizens enjoy a standard of living and access to basic services to enable them to lead descent and dignified lives; youth, women, children realize their full potential, and a nurturing and caring environment exists for the vulnerable; there is an enabling environment for our private sector to thrive; and our natural heritage is nurtured and preserved for future generations”.
How will the Plan be implemented?
- Roles and Responsibilities
Oversight and policy coordination for the National Development Plan will be provided by:
- The National Assembly;
- An Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee;
- A Multi-Stakeholder National Coordinating Committee;
- A Regional Governor’s and Municipalities Forum; and
- A Government-Development Partners forum is also envisaged.
For technical and implementation oversight, the following mechanisms will be put in place:
- A National Technical Committee;
- Technical Clusters;
- A National Monitoring and Evaluation platform; and
- Regional Technical Advisory Committee and cascading down to Ward levels.
- Implementation Strategy
Several interconnected strategies shall drive implementation of the National Development Plan, namely:
- Rigorous prioritization and sequencing of actions;
- Addressing regional disparities in access to basic services and strengthening integrated urban planning;
- Realignment of sector strategies and action plans to the overall orientation of the National Development Plan;
- Regional integration and cross-border cooperation; and
- Capacity development.
How do we know we are making progress?
A robust results
Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms; and
Strengthening government-citizens engagement.
The Results Framework
For each strategic priority and critical enabler of the National Development Plan, key outcomes and results to be achieved have been identified to enable measurement of progress. These are presented in annex 1 and 2 respectively.
Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanisms
The monitoring and the evaluation of the National Development Plan will be done at three levels:
- Executive level;
- Sector level; and
- Citizens’ level.
Executive level Monitoring and Evaluation
- Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation System/Presidential Dashboard that will allow the Executive to monitor and track selected key results and outcomes of the plan at the highest level of government; and
- A Delivery Unit situated in the Office of the President (OP) to ensure implementation of the priorities and to manage the Presidential M&E system.
Sector level Monitoring and Evaluation processes
Key features of the plan’s Monitoring and Evaluation system are the following:
- A results matrix where each strategic priority and critical enabler has an accompanying goal(s), a set of outcomes, indicators (disaggregated to an appropriate level) with baselines and targets to facilitate the tracking and reporting progress of implementation;
- A Metadata for each indicator was also developed to provide definitions and to serve as reference;
- A system decentralized to the regional level to create and/or strengthen linkages and synergies between the central government and the regions through the Regional Technical Advisory Committees;
- To ease Government’s burden in monitoring and reporting progress of the international and regional agreements, the indicators in the National Development Plan were closely matched to those from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063. The aim is to have a national Monitoring and Evaluation process that is uniform and a “one stop shop” for all information on both national and international plans and agreements;
- To meet the growing demand for information and accurately report on the progress of results on a timely basis, there will be: an annual review of progress, tools, evaluations, capacity building; and
- A web-based database will be housed and managed by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics. This will provide a common and centrally located database for the storage and easy retrieval of data on key development indicators for the country.
Strengthening Government – Citizens’ Engagement
- a.) All public institutions will be required to develop and publish service charters, which will outline the standards of service delivery that citizens can expect;
- b.) Government will take action to better articulate its messages, and will undertake public campaigns on key policy issues to mobilize public action through simple messages using social media, posters, banners, pamphlets, public education talks, radio and television
- c.) Government will set up forums for citizen engagement and create opportunities for citizens to interface with public officials at all levels through town and village hall meetings, dialogue forums, panel discussions, focus group discussions and other mechanisms such as meet the people tours.
- d.) Digitally, the government will establish a presence on social media platforms to strengthen engagement. Examples are with such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The government will establish a “Feedback Unit.” Its purpose will be to build social media platforms to ensure a more active and engaged public.
- e.) The government will endeavor to create a new mindset among public officials, such that they are citizen-focused and ready and willing to respond positively to public concerns.
What does the plan cost and how will we resource it?
Total Gross Budget is $2.4 Billion (USD)
The total gross budget, without accounting for available resources, stands at $US2.4 billion. The main cost drivers are energy and infrastructure (57 percent), agriculture (11.2 percent) and human capital (8.34 percent). Combined, the three strategic priorities account for 76.5 percent of the budget. With respect to the highest cost driver, which is infrastructure and energy, some of the financings will be acquired through PPP and other innovative financing models.
Total cost of flagships and priority projects is $1.6 Billion (USD)
The government will put in place robust mechanisms to ensure that the plan is fully and effectively implemented. The main elements of this are: clarity with respect to the roles and responsibilities of key national actors and stakeholders; appropriate institutional mechanisms; and a well-thought-through implementation strategy.
- Strategies to Mobilize Resources
To meet the financing needs of the plan, the government will pursue three interlinked strategies, in addition to traditional development assistance:
- Concessionary financing;
- Domestic resources mobilization; and
- Innovative financing instruments.
- Concessionary Financing
Because of the state of the economy, external support will be vital to enable The Gambia to meet the immediate financing needs of the National Development Plan. Limited fiscal space, due to high debt servicing, means that government has to rely on grants and loans of a highly concessionary nature in order to avoid further debt exposure and increasing the fiscal risks and vulnerability of the economy. The government will work with both traditional and non-traditional partners to secure the necessary financing.
- Domestic Resource Mobilization
Reliance on domestic resourcing is becoming increasingly important for meeting the financing needs of developing countries. Already the Gambia relies heavily on taxation to finance government expenditure.
However, because of its debt servicing obligations, the government has been unable to allocate significant resources to finance development. In the context of the National Development Plan, three measures will be adopted to increase the government’s contribution to implement its development agenda:
- Continue the path of prudent fiscal management, sound monetary policy and structural reforms which are expected to rationalize the budget;
- Prudent debt management, especially domestic borrowing, and debt restructuring, which will lead to increased fiscal space; and
- More efficient revenue collections mechanisms and simplifying and expanding the tax base.
- Innovative Financing
To ensure the successful implementation of the National Development Plan, a critical focus must be anchored on alternative and more innovative ways of financing. Public-private partnerships, capital markets, blended finance among other means will be explored as priorities to ensure sustainability and efficiency, especially considering the modern economy and the global financing agenda of moving away from overdependence on aid.
What is your role in realizing the plan, and what does it mean for you?
The National Development Plan embodies the collective aspirations of all Gambians, including those in the Diaspora. It emanated from the political manifesto of Coalition 2016 that shattered the stranglehold of 22 years of dictatorship. It was further given content and substance by the Government Compact arrived at during the Cabinet retreat of 5-7 May 2017, which outlined key government priorities.
The document also sums up the inputs from the 13 Thematic Working Groups set up to prepare the plan and comprising government ministries, civil society, the private sector and development partners. Opportunities were also provided to all stakeholders to contribute and this process culminated in a validation workshop held on 3rd October 2017 when the draft document was thoroughly reviewed. The plan is, therefore, a “home-grown” high-quality document, which must be read, understood and acted upon by all.
The plan provides many avenues for participation by citizens and stakeholders. There are mechanisms for robust citizen participation and engagement through its accountability framework, which empowers them to provide their views and feedback on government performance and effectiveness.
Each and every citizen can also capitalize on the opportunities that the plan provides:
For the country’s young people,
there are opportunities to build your skills to become better entrepreneurs, to cater for your all-round development and to strengthen your voice in decision-making;
For the farmers and the rural population,
development of irrigation systems, value chains and the introduction of modern production technologies would ensure increase in rural incomes and ensure food security and freedom from hunger;
For the private sector,
an improved business environment, reforms in the tax system, access to credit, as well as better infrastructure and energy services will provide new opportunities for growth;
For school children,
a quality education foreseen in the plan paves the way for satisfactory careers and capacity to realize your full potential;
the removal of the socio-cultural barriers, strengthening your participation in decision-making, as well as better economic opportunities will lead to improved status and well being for families;
For the poor and vulnerable,
a greater security and assistance is provided for by the plan through the proposed social protection interventions; and
For all citizens,
the restoration of good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law means no one will be subjected to arbitrary arrests, there will be freedom of expression, and the fundamental rights of all will be respected and upheld.