Friday, July 29, 2011

Instant Money: Keys to Wealth (part I)

Money is life energy that we exchange and use as a result of the service we provide to the universe.

 -Deepak Chopra

Author: Momodou Sabally
By Momodou Sabally
I am not a ‘money-obsessed’ Sarahulleh – courtesy of my social licence of gamo/sanawya; am from Badibu - but I do have a strong desire for riches; and hence when Alhagie Abdoulie Touray asked that my next book be titled Instant Money, I decided to at least do an article on this very interesting and perhaps inspiring title.
Let me start by clarifying that this series of articles is intended to show the way to attaining wealth in the fastest way possible through the rendering of services or sale of goods that are beneficial to people. This is not an invitation to what some people dream of: getting money without rendering any service.  Forget about making money, as Earl Nightingale once said, “The only people who make money, work in the mints.” What I am writing about is the earning of money.

This is not about playing lottery to get quick cash for that is no sustainable way of acquiring wealth. Research has proven that most millionaires who become rich from lottery end up poor and destitute. The desire for money should not lure anyone into illicit acts like selling narcotics for that is the recipe for self-destruction. We have seen the despicable end of drug lords like Pablo Escobar, and nearer home daily people are sent to prison for trading in such destructive vices. It is clear what the script writer once said, “You cannot break the law, you can only break yourself against the law.”

Gambia Gov’t rolls out plan for achieving macroeconomic goals

Mrs Barry, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade
The Gambia government has developed a Medium Term Plan (MTP) for 2011 to 2015 which embraces an integrated action plan and framework for mainstreaming trade into the national and development agenda.

“The MTP will strengthen the competitiveness of the Gambian economy as government strives to pursue an export-led strategy,” said Naffie Barry, permanent secretary of Trade ministry, while speaking at the MTP review meeting held recently at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

While the MTP is key in integrating trade into the national development planning framework, it also aims at improving and maintaining a competitive trading environment that is capable of enhancing domestic production, improving export performance and harnessing The Gambia’s comparative advantages in the service sector.

The policy is the result of a diagnosis trade study conducted in 2007 as part of efforts at enhancing the mainstreaming of trade into national development strategies. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Gambia Ranked 2nd Highest Taxed Nation

As economic and social discourse continues on the tall order of tax imposition the private sector and, by extension, the whole nation have to grapple with in The Gambia, the 2011 ‘World Bank Doing Business Report’ has ranked the Smiling Coast of Africa the 2nd highest taxed nation in the world.      
The fact that The Gambia is a 'tax-based economy' was made clear at a recent national economic summit where reports emerged from impeccable sources that the West African country of a population of 1.7 million is rated the second highest taxed-based economy in the World.

The various types of tax currently in operation have risen to 15 in a country where the majority of its population is classified as living below the poverty level.

While majority of Gambians continue to wallow in poverty, a 2011 'World Bank Doing Business' report has positioned The Gambia among the '8th bottom most difficult countries to do business'.

Many business agencies ranging from tourism, to horticulture and clearing agencies have continued to express concern over the rapid rise of the numerous taxes enforced in recent months on the heels of a dwindling business climate in the West African country.

NDEA Examines Gambia’s Drug Situation

As part of activities marking International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) hold a daylong symposium on the “Drug Abuse Situation in The Gambia”.

Held at the Kanifing Municipal Council Hall along Jimpex Road, the Symposium brought together securities, students, teachers, youth organizations, journalists, and civil society to share ideas and work together to make The Gambia a “drug free nation”.

In his presentation, the Public Relation Officer of the NDEA, Mr Abdoulie Ceesay, reiterated that the Narcotic Court in Banjul is overburdened with drug cases, while the prison is filled-up with drug inmates and trial prisoners.

He noted that statistics on drug seizures in The Gambia show 323 cases of Cannabis Sativa from January-December 2010, forming 90 percent of the overall seizure of drugs registered for the year.

Out of the 323 cases, 36 percent involves youths between the ages of 13-25 years.
Thus, Mr. Ceesay note that the number of young people arrested in connection with cannabis abuse is increasing at an “alarming rate” which raises grave concerns.

Cannabis seizure
According to him, 371 people were arrested last year in connection to dealing in cannabis, 352 of them are Gambians, while others include Senegalese, Malians, a Nigerian, and Guineans (Conakry).

37 people, nine of them Gambians were also arrested for allegedly dealing in Cocaine; others are Nigerians, a Cameroonian, an Estonian, a Bissau Guinean, a Ghanaian, Deutsch nationals, a Mexican, a Swedish, and Venezuelans.

Cocaine worth more than 1 billion USD seized in The Gambia

Mr Ceesay also noted that on June 4, 2010, the Drug Agency registered its biggest drug seizure of cocaine, amounting to more than two tons (worth more than 1 billion US dollars) at a warehouse at Bonto village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia.

Seven South Americans, a European and an African have since been arrested in connection to this catch and are currently being tried at the Court.

He said another significant seizure of more than one ton of Cannabis Sativa was also seized at Seewol Village, West Coast Region near Cassamance, the Southern Region of neighboring Senegal on August 25, 2010.

“The cannabis was destined to the most densely populated area in the country, the Greater Banjul, and the seizure drastically reduced the supply trend in this region, automatically reducing the demand in the market for both whole sale and retail,” he claimed.

Gov’t. Stance
Mr Ceesay said The Gambia Government has taken bold steps in the fight against the “drug menace” and drug-related crimes, by strengthening its drug laws in other to make it more stringent and stiff to discourage drug cartels who intend to abuse the hospitality, peace and tranquility of The Gambia.

During a presentation on the Health Implications of Illicit Drugs, Ana Marie Mendy, Departmental Matron of the Tanka-Tanka Psychiatric Hospital, said health wellbeing is not merely the absence of disease but the harmonious functioning of the three pillars of health: physical, mental and social wellbeing. 

She said drugs are substances when taken into the human system are able to modify perception, mood and cognitive senses. And that addicts cannot function in the absence of a particular drug and needs repeated doses of the drug to feel high or to avoid the distressing physical and psychological effects of its absence.  

According to her, the most commonly abuse drug in the country is marijuana which is locally grown in the Gambia and sometimes smuggled into the country from neighboring countries.

She quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to have said “alcohol accounts for 2.5 million deaths every year, 15.3 million people suffer from drug abuse disorders and quite a proportion of this population reported HIV infection.” 

“Of recent, this West African region is being used as a transit point in illicit drug trafficking especially cocaine and heroin. Without proper intervention it will destroy our youths, affect the country’s socio-economic and human development,” she noted.

She adds that in The Gambia, 75 percent of the patients in the only Psychiatric Hospital had their illness cause or precipitated by drugs and 80 percent of relapsed cases are due to drugs (cannabis and alcohol).

The negative effects of drug abuse, she said is the altering of one’s performance academically, depression, elation (depending on the individual), and loss of motivation. It also affects the limbic and autonomic part of the nervous system resulting in paranoia, anorexia and sleeplessness.

She also noted that drugs causes economic breakdown, corruption, violence and acts as a tool in spreading diseases, causing misery for the abusers, their families and the community.
She stressed that “there is a need to avert a situation she described as a “catastrophic menace” in The Gambia.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gambian entrepreneurs urge to take advantage of AGOA

The business communities in the Gambia and beyond are urged to take advantage and explore the numerous opportunities and potentials that the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act –AGOA has to offer.

The AGOA, which was signed into law in 2000 by the United States government, offers a competitive advantage for about 7000 different African-made products to enter the American markets duty free and quota free.  It has also given trade preference to countries that are making progress in economic, legal and human rights reform.

AGOA benefits are obviously very meaningful, but actually taking advantage of them is sometimes difficult for entrepreneurs.  Providing practical information on AGOA helps ensure that everyone can benefits from the trade preferences it offers.  In cognizant of this, the CADIA Institutes and Academics are currently embarking on a tour of Africa dubbed ‘Green Africa – North’ from 2011 to 2020 to further expose the potentials of AGOA and how to utilized it numerous advantages as well as to take ownership of it.

As part of the tour, which is headed by Prof. Darryl R.O. Prevost, executive director of CADIA Institutes and Academies, the delegates will be holding seminars, conferences, symposia in almost all AGOA eligible countries and with all stakeholders involved in the AGOA processing including the government, and the businessmen and women.

The delegation is currently in The Gambia where it will be holding talks with different stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, the media, and the business community.

During the meeting with the media personnel, held on Thursday, Prof Darryl explained that for the past 10 years, Africans are not taking advantage of the AGOA.  He said some of the African entrepreneurs may be encountering some challenges which would include not knowing the ways to explore the potentials of AGOA, which is what the Green Africa tour wants to break and give the business community the necessary information that is needed to advantage of AGOA.  

“In this way, we hope that this time around Africans would have the necessary information to explore and take ownership of AGOA,” the professor said.

Kenya has the best example and best success story on AGOA for Africa. 
Prof Darryl emphasized that other countries can do more that what Kenya did “if they explore the potentials and take ownership of AGOA”.  

“The Gambia has really a lot to offer in terms of AGOA,” he said, citing fish and seafood, processed food, textile and apparel as potentials sectors for the Gambia that the entrepreneurs can exploit and be exporting to the US market in huge quantities.

It is believe that AGOA promotes increased trade and economic cooperation between the United States and eligible African countries.

The Gambia became eligible for AGOA in 2002 and eligibility has been renews annually ever since.  The country is also eligible for the Textile Visa – an additional requirement governing the export of textile and apparel under AGOA. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Africell’s 3G still in limbo

Still in the dark is Africell’s 3G, whose hype has been in the air ever since the company disclosed almost a year or more ago that it was going to bring to the doorstep of Gambians a third generation technology of a standard “3G with a difference” that never was in The Gambia’s GSM industry. As the so-called leading GSM Company that is known for its customer mesmerizing ability, when Africell made such a declaration of bringing into The Gambia a 3G with a difference, the whole nation bought it all.   However, the 3G with a difference promised by Africell to have been on steam by now is yet to see the light of day.
Since the launching of the first 3G in The Gambia, which has raised the bar in terms of technology in the country’s GSM industry, other companies in the country have also made efforts to secure 3G licence to operate on the latest technology in the telecommunications industry.

In 2010, Africell announced that it had secured a 3G licence from the Gambia government to operate on a third generation platform, but up to the time of preparing this report the company’s subscribers are still waiting anxiously to see and enjoy the third generation technology and it related benefits promised them by their company.

The typical services associated with 3G, which is the third generation of mobile phone technology that has succeeded 2G, include wireless voice telephony and broadband wireless data, all in mobile environment. The 3G technology also allows network operators to provide users a bigger range of the latest services, including video call. 

Earlier on, in 2010, Papa Leigh, Africell’s director of public relations, told MarketPlace Magazine the government has granted them a 3G licence. 

He said:  “We have procured some of the materials; they are already here (in the country), we have started putting it up, although we are having some [components or parts] that are yet to arrive. Hopefully very soon everything will be up and running and then every Africell subscriber will be able to have a data on your phone and I can tell you that our 3G is a 3G with a difference, different from what you have been seeing in the country.” 

He added that their initial plan was to launch it in September 2010, but due to changes in specifications and details; they have experienced a slight delay. 

It’s almost one year now since the cancellation of the first proposed date for launching the technology, up to now the company has never proposed a date for launching it which give many people that the claimed biggest GSM company, in terms of subscriber base, is just playing another strategy to retain their customers who may be wanting to enjoy the facilities of 3G from another operator.

The company claimed that over the past ten years, everything that they do has been different, it has been big.  The officials of the company use to boost of the fact that they are the best GSM company in the country that is why they have been winning the GCCI Award of the ‘Telecommunications Company of the Year’.  

 However, many people are raising eyebrow about the authenticity of the award because of the fact that often times Africell use to be the major sponsor of the award ceremony over the years and most of these years they always emerged as a winner.

The development of 3G by Africell is crucial to the company’s future success as call traffic continues to increase.  Gambia’s telecoms market is now very dynamic and undergoing rapid transformation.  Previously people were just interested in making call but now it has gone beyond that, therefore the introduction of a 3G is a necessity. 

Many people had said the claimed by Africell that they are bringing in 3G is a reaction to the introduction of 3G by QCell, the first company to introduced 3G in the country which is said to raised the bar for other GSM companies like them to follow, and the company (QCell) is also seen as the major competitor to Africell.  But officials of Africell said 3G is no longer something that one can use to “boast around”, which may be referring to hype by QCell’s 3G.

Peter Braima, senior media supervisor of Africell said over the years, they have never acted or reacted purposely because of competition.  He said the driving force of the company, primary factor for anything that “we developed or anything that we do is the subscribers, if the subscribers want it we will give it to them it does not matter who have it or who does not have it”.  

Amie Cisse, a marketing officer of QCell, the first company to introduce 3G in the country has earlier on said “other GSM operators are also in the process of introducing 3G standards because they want to peer up”.
But Mr Braima said Africell’s brining of 3G is “timely”.  “We are not the first but I think we are bringing it at the better time because it’s out of demand not just the fact that we want to show off, we operate on what the customers’ need and I think this is why we want to bring for them the best technology.  It is not driven by anybody it is driven mainly by what the customers want and the customers have clearly told us that this is what they want, and how they want it and what we are brining nobody has it.”

“We are coming with the latest 3G, we know there is 3G in the Gambia, but we have gone to the extra mile to invest in the latest 3G technology so Africell is bringing the highest technology in the country,” he added.
It has taken longer than necessary for Africell to bring what “no one has” in the GSM industry even though they claimed that they are not just looking to make name but solely base on the customers’ want.  Many Africell subscribers told this Gambia News Online that it would have been better if the company bring in a 3G that may be comparable to the ones already in the country with some basic 3G features rather than trying to bring in “the best” that no one else has but is also taking the company longer time than any other company. 

The fact is that upgrading to 3G is very costly and Gambia News Online understands that to upgrade from 2G to 3G, mobile operator has to make evolutionary upgrading to existing networks while simultaneously planning their revolutionary new mobile broadband networks.

The time difference between when Gamtel and Africell was issued a 3G license is not long, the Gambia News Online understands, but Gamtel has launched its 3G since January, this year while Africell is yet to said anything about launching it.

Some concerned customers of the company said “it will not be a surprise any more” if the company should bring in any technology higher than 3G as it has taken long time now, but the company said they announced their issuance of the 3G license early because “we are very transparent with whatever we do”.

The company’s media supervisor said they are “getting ready to actually launch the 3G” but notwithstanding he has not said when it will be launched as the first proposed date has failed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Takaful MD blasts conventional insurance practitioners

Says their scheme of insurance practice is “gambling” 

Mr Joof, MD Takaful Islamic Insurance Company
The managing director of Takaful Gambia Limited, the only insurance company that operates in Shariah compliance principles, has condemned the operating principles of conventional insurance companies saying “it is not fair as it is based on gambling”.

Momodou M. Joof claimed that conventional insurance practitioners cannot define insurance in any way apart from buying and selling.  

“Insurance can only be seen as somebody selling and somebody buying and under a buying and selling principle there is a strict warning from Allah that ‘what you pay for must be equivalent to what you are getting’. So when you come to them and say ‘I have a vehicle which is D100,000 value and I want to insure it’, they tell you to pay D10,000; when you pay this D10,000 they gave you a piece of paper.  

“The piece of paper you bought from them for D10,000 that is what they call insurance and it states that when you suffer a loss they will pay you, but what about when you don’t suffer a loss.”

Mr Joof said further that nobody wants to get into a contract that will only benefit them when they get into an accident.  For example, he said, when you insure your house against fire, they (the conventional insurance practitioners) will tell you that you will only benefit when your house is on fire. If it is marine insurance they will tell you that you will only benefit when your boat/ship sinks at sea.”  

“What we stand for at Takaful Insurance is fairness,” MD Joof said, adding:  “Our policy is that insurance can only be categorised under trade, and that is buying and selling.  Buying and selling must be such that the price of what you are buying must be equivalent to what you are gaining. So you cannot charge me D10,000 only for you to give me a piece of paper and at the end of the year when nothing happens, when I come back again to renew the policy, you will still charge me more; that is not done.”

The Takaful CEO said Islam states that when one belongs to an organisation and suffer a loss the person goes back to the organisation and get paid, “which is good”. But the conventional insurance practitioners should polish such an arrangement or policy to make it acceptable in the eyes of Islam, he said, adding that what is acceptable in the eyes of Islam “must be transparent”; it must not be gambling”.
Mr Joof, who spent the greater part of his insurance career with conventional insurance companies, said the operating principle of conventional insurance is based on gambling because “when you suffer a loss they pay you more than you will have paid them, but when you don’t suffer a loss, you lose the whole of your money in the cause of the year: this is gambling”. 

Economic summit calls for enhanced productive sector

The just concluded Third National Economic Summit organised by the Gambian government together with other private sector stakeholders has emphasised the importance of developing the productive sectors of The Gambia’s economic base to accelerate growth and employment in the country. Gambia News Online filled in this report from the two-day discourse.

The Government of The Gambia, under the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, has held a national economic summit under the theme: 'Developing the productive sectors to accelerate growth and employment in The Gambia'.

The third economic summit was held in collaboration with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI), the UNDP, the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project (GCP) and the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

The two-day summit, attended by development partners, senior government officials and representatives of NGOs discussed pertinent issues regarding the agricultural, insurance and the informal sectors of the economy.

The summit has been held at a time The Gambia government is pursuing a new socio-economic framework called Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) which, according to President Yahya Jammeh, focuses on "growth and employment".

At the summit, President Jammeh was represented by the vice president of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, who said the importance of productive capacities for economic growth and employment with consequential impacts on poverty reduction is evident in the development experience of developing countries which have managed to achieve sustained and substantial poverty reduction over the last 30 years.

“Various reports that analysed the nature and dynamics of poverty in the least developed countries (LDCs) have argued that the under-development of productive capacities is the missing link between the expanding international trade which many LDCs have achieved in recent years and the sustained poverty reduction which remain elusive in most of them,” the vice-president says.

“The overdependence on a few primary commodities for our export earnings is part of the reasons for the vulnerability and instability of the economies of most LDCs. Consequently, our economies remain fragile due to their excessive vulnerability to various shocks, and this could be arguably linked to our weak productive and supply capacities."

VP Njie-Saidy also called on the NGOs, the private sectors and other development partners, saying: "We must therefore come together to build a genuine partnership that would enable us to face the daunting challenges of socio-economic development."

While calling on Gambians to champion the development of the country, VP Njie-Saidy reiterated President Jammeh’s statement: "I must emphasise that the development of this country cannot be anchored on the benevolence of others. We must look within and make maximum use of our available resources - human, material and financial."

Hon. Kolley Trade Minister
In his remarks, Abdou Kolley, Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, said the outcome of the summit would serve as a tool for accelerating growth, reducing poverty and creating further employment.

He highlighted the positive outcome of the last economic summit held in 2003, saying eight years ago, the central themes of many fora was ‘availability’ of basic facilities such as electricity and telecommunications, but the focus now has been shifted to "affordability".

The president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) emphasised the importance of the agricultural, insurance and informal sectors, saying the three sectors play a vital role in the economy and key growth areas.

Bai Matarr Drammeh also says, relating to agriculture there are 49 LDCs with a population of more than 800 million people, who represented the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity and are at the very epicentre of development emergency.

International trade market opportunities are also changing, with growing integration of global agricultural supply chain and the emergence of large economies, he notes.

On insurance, the GCCI president says it is considered an infrastructural pillar of the financial services sector and the economy. "Insurance companies form a growing part of the domestic financial sector and closely linked with macroeconomic factors such as inflation, currency, controls, and the national income.”

Speaking further, Mr Drammeh said insurance improves people’s quality of life and increases social stability by way of individual health and life insurance, pension funds and workers compensation.

Shopkeeper seeks support

Edrisa in his shop
Edrisa Jallow, a shopkeeper in Fajara, is seeking support from good Samaritans to develop and expand his business.
“I definitely need support from individuals and institutions in and out of The Gambia to help me in cash or kind to expand my business,” said Edrissa, who has been in business for about ten years.
Jallow explained that since he started business, with a seed capital provided by himself, his major constraint has been lack of substantial cash to expand. 
Edi, as he is fondly called, says business is not like a bed of roses so that one is able to make quick and large profits; however, with adequate stock and good sale one can quickly make a good return on his/her investment.
Edrisa said he is ready to go into partnership with anyone who is willing to partner with him.  “I have the skills; my only constraint is lack of finance to develop the business,” he said. “I am ready to go into partnership with anyone who can develop or expand the business by giving me stocks. I will trade on them and at the end of the day we can share the profits in proportion, as agreed.” 
Should anybody partner with him, the business will yield quick return or profit, he assured the public.
Edi also said he a partner can come from any part of region of the country, and he is also willing to make a change of location where possible.
This is another opportunity for the Gambia Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the banks and other institutions who claim to be supporting entrepreneurship in the country to come in and give a helping hand to a young Gambian entrepreneur like Jallow to develop his business. 
Any Good Samaritan willing to give Edrisa a helping hand can call him on phone no: +220 9846269/7502943 or Gambia News Online on Tel: 3451551 or Emali:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gambians managing in economic hardship

Majority of Gambians are finding it very difficult to keep their heads above water these days as prices of basic food commodities continue to skyrocket, on the hills of an increased transport fare and electricity tariffs, even though the nation continues to experience erratic power supply.

As this dire situation continues stakeholders in the tussle are pointing fingers at each other.  Consumers are blaming the government for leaving traders to increase prices at will, while traders are partly blaming it on the rise in prices of goods at the international market as well as on the government for not reducing taxes or subsidizing basic foodstuffs, which in turn causes reduction in prices of commodities.  

The government, on the other hand, is saying it cannot implement price control, as demanded by many consumers, because The Gambia is a liberal economy that depends on taxes to finance its development plans.
The rising food prices and declining income sources provide a toxic mix in the country as most of the people wallow in poverty.

With the majority of the population being classified as living below the poverty level it is clear that many people are seriously affected even when small shocks of price rise occur.

Many Gambian workers do not earn more than D30,000 annually, which is D2,500 per month.

While bag of rice is costing nothing less than D700, daily fish money is at least D50 for the poorest of the poor, which is the lowest someone can go with to the market to buy condiments for the preparation of household food.  In addition to meeting this cost of living, a household head has to pay rent and take care of utility bills, all from a monthly salary of D2,500, which has left one to wonder how people survive in this country.

“If the costs of a bag of rice, fish money, and house rent are more than your salary, how about daily needs like soap, sugar and bread for breakfast and other life’s essentials,” ponders Ousman Manneh, breadwinner of a family of five. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that people are suffering in hardship,” he added.

NAWEC has just succeeded in lobbying for increased electricity tariffs, even though the increment is against the wish of most of the people. It says the increment will enable the company to upscale its services, which is yet to be really seen, as electricity supply continues to go haywire.

“To make matters worse, the Gambia National Transport Control Association has also increased transport fare, which favours commercial vehicle owners and drivers,” said Ndey Fatou Jobe, a trader in Serrekunda, who spoke to this reporter.
Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West, has said that the rise in cost of living, such as transport fares, utilities and feeding, has compounded the situation the more. “Rather than decreasing poverty, they are increasing poverty,” he said, adding that what is happening “can only add to the worsening of poverty” in the country.

The resulting effect of these increments will be difficult to fathom as its consequences will affect cost of production and inflate prices of essential commodities and services, which leads to a high cost of living for the country’s populace.

“Many ordinary Gambians are undergoing serious economic hardship,” said Modou Kujabi, a hawker at the Serrekunda market.

Momodou said the prices of basic commodities such as rice and flour have gone beyond the reach of many ordinary Gambians.

“This is totally unacceptable in a country where the earning capacity has not been enhanced,” he pointed out, saying he and his fellow vendors are constantly harassed by the police who often drive them away from where they stand to sell on the roadside.

The regular harassment meted out to them by the police has placed them in a difficult situation, as they have been denied earning their daily income, he says.

Mamadou Edrissa Njie of the Gambia News and Report Magazine said Gambians are living in abject poverty, since they are only surviving from hand to mouth on a daily basis.

“The income of many Gambians in the country is very low,” he says. “As prices of basic commodities are rising every day, the poor are getting poorer by the day.”

A roadside restaurant owner, Omar Saidykhan, said the increase in the prices of foodstuffs has severely stifled his business, as he has had to increase the prices of his foodstuffs, which has made many customers to curtail frequenting his shop for breakfast and dinner. 

“This did not often go down well with the customers, who could not understand the dramatic increase. As a result, I am incurring losses on sales,” he said.

“My brother we are suffering, you don’t need to ask people to know that,” said Fatou Jallow, a housewife who spoke to this reporter at the Serrekunda market. 

“Things are getting more and more expensive beyond the reach of the average Gambians.  Prices of goods and services are skyrocketing like no man's business,” she said.

Many people who use to buy a bag of rice each month are now resorting to buying cups on a daily basis, which continues to put pressure on their income.

From the look of things one maybe tempted to say Gambians are happy despite living in poverty, but many sufferers say they have no other options.  “What can we do, we don’t know when things will change for us, so it’s better we open up and not to be frowning all the time,” Sarjo Badjie said.

Modou Joof of The Voice Newspaper, said the realities of a free rise in prices of basic commodities, high cost of electricity, mass unemployment and other aspects of economic hardship are prevalent in The Gambia. 
Mamudou Sillah of Global Electric Group says the hike in electricity tariff, transport fare increment and the rapid increase in the prices of basic human needs, especially rice, which is Gambia’s staple food, have pushed many Gambians to the brink of severe economic hardship.

“To make matters worse, all these things have been increased without any salary increment. People are really managing in hardship now,” he said, adding that very few people in the country are now using their salaries only for meeting the daily food of their households.

The wealthy people “may not be too feeling the hardship” in the country but “the poor are suffering”, Isatou Jallow, a housewife, said.  “I don’t know where we are heading to now,” she added.

According to Ebrima Lowe, an employee of Toplink Consulting, said employers in the country have made themselves “oblivious of the difficulties on the ground as they have so far failed” to increase salaries. 

“Employers should increase wages to pay salaries that commensurate with the rate of inflation and price increment in the country,” Mr Lowe said.