Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gambia: Hard Times Loom Large

As electricity, water and sewerage tariffs hike
The prices of electricity-related goods and services will soon skyrocket as the National Water and Electricity Company Limited has increased tariffs of electricity, water and sewerage, though both individuals and corporate consumers denounced the move initially.

With effect from 1 June this year, the tariffs of electricity, water and sewerage will increase across the board, for all consumers.

Tariffs for domestic electricity consumption will be increased from D7.20 to D9.10 per kilowatt, commercial usage of electricity will also be increased from D8.60 to D9.70 per kilowatt. Hotel, club and industrial uses of electricity will also hike from D8.95 to D10.40 per kilowatt.
Electricity uses for agriculture, the backbone of the Gambia economy, will also be increased from D8.00 to D9.70 per kilowatt.  The usage of electricity by area councils and central government will also be accelerated to D9.70 per kilowatt from D8.70.

In the same vein, the tariff for domestic water consumption will be increased from D10.40 to 13.83 per cubic metre, commercial usage of water will also be increased from D16.90 to D22.48 per cubic metre. Hotel, club and industrial uses of water will also hike from D24.01 to D31.93 per cubic metre.

Water uses for agriculture will also be increased from D7.80 to D10.37 per cubic metre. The usage of water by area councils will increase from D10.52 to 13.99 per cubic metre and central government will also be accelerated to D14.12 per cubic from D10.62.

Gambia's Airport Credit Union: Loans Outweigh Savings

The Banjul International Airport Co-operative Credit Union (BIACCU) gave more to members as loan than it received as savings in 2011.

The 1033 members of the BIACCU saved eleven million two-hundred and fifty thousand nine hundred and fifty dalasis (D11,250,950) in 2011 and the union disbursed eleven million five hundred and sixteen thousand one hundred and ninety-one (D11,516,191) to members as loan during the year under review. 

However, the treasurer of the Union said, with pride, that only a little number of the members that did not benefit from its loan scheme.

At the 9th Annual General Meeting of the BIACCU held on 17 May at the Airport, Edrissa Gassama, treasurer of the union, said that in 2011 members’ savings did increase from D9,483,722 in 2010 to D11,250,950 in 2011. 

“This represents an increase of 19% in relative terms in 2011, which indeed is a large sum of money saved by members, and it shows members awareness and commitment to saving,” he said.

With regard to loans, Mr Gassama said the credit union had satisfactorily disbursed loan to applicants on the basis of first come first serve.  The loan given in 2011 represented an increment of 19% from D9,639,303 in 2010 to D11,516,191 in 2011.  “This is a big achievement for all of us,” he added. 

With the high interest rates charged by banks in the country, members of credit unions are now resorting to loans from their unions than going to the banks to take loan with its rigorous requirements for collateral coupled with the prohibited interest rate.

Gambia national budget director says youths should be proffered alternatives to banditry

Mr Sabally

The director of the Gambia national budget, Momodou Sabally, has said youths should be empowered with lucrative skills to drive them away from thievery and banditry

This will help them to shift attention from immoral acts, for the society to live in holistic happiness, he says.

Sabally, a prolific author of inspirational books, says leaving these people to dwell in their miserable acts, an approach employed by some parts of the society, would ruin not only vulnerable youths but also “those of us who think we know better and could cater for our own happiness.

“So we have to reach out to that section of society who are seeking happiness in all the wrong places because they also think that what they do is what will bring them happiness. So we must go out there and have a respectful conversation with them,” he said, adding:  “Yet we must not stop there, we should also proffer to them alternatives.”

Mr Sabally was speaking on 19 May at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi during the official launch of two of his recently published books - The Way to Happiness: Inspirational Essays, and Love Notes: Inspiring Poems. Both books were published earlier this year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gambia urged to amend deficient Anti-Money Laundering law

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA) has urged the Gambia to amend her Anti-Money Laundering laws with a view to bring it in line with the international standards.

The Gambia’s Anti-Money Laundering Act 2003 is not up to standard as it designated only 13 predicate offences for money laundering.  This falls short of the minimum 20 designated categories under the recommendation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the principal international standard body setting on money laundering and terrorist financing.

Dr Abdullahi Shehu, GIABA DG
The director general of GIABA, Dr Abdullahi Shehu said they are negotiating with the Gambian authorities to make sure that they amend and pass a standard anti-money laundering legislation.  He noted that the negotiation has been fruitful as the Gambian authorities had agreed to amend the law.

“Now we are really working together with them to make sure that the law is amended because where there is no law or where the law is weak, it create a vacuum for criminals to take over,” said Dr Shehu, DG of GIABA - a specialized institution of ECOWAS responsible for the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the West African sub-region.

Money laundering situation in Gambia

Various reports on the money laundering situation of the Gambia indicates that the menace is increasingly a major problem in the country hence the need for the government to make significant efforts at beefing up its machinery by putting in place appropriate and standard legislation to combat the social evils.

AGIB shareholder picks up bone with management

Hatib Janneh

Hatib Janneh, one of the Gambian shareholders of the Arab Gambian Islamic Bank, has expressed disappointment with the recent modus operandi of the bank, saying since FinBank Plc took over AGIB, the Gambian subsidiary has not been employing Gambians as it should.

In his intervention during the annual general meeting of the bank held on 8 May at Coco Ocean in Bijilo, Mr Janneh noted that most of the staffs (including senior management) of other banks in the country are Gambians while AGIB has failed to improve on this area and at the same time going backward rapidly in financial performance than imagined. 

“So I hope you will excuse me if I express my disappointment on this matter,” he said. 
Mr Janneh, who told AGIB management that his involvement in the Gambia banking sector started long ago, said: “I can remember criticizing Standard Chartered Bank on this matter 25 to 30 years ago and for me to start criticizing AGIB, of which I am a shareholder, I think is too much. 

“I hope this matter will be looked at very carefully because I think we (local shareholders) will not be satisfied with a bank that continues not to employ Gambians because maintaining foreign staff among other things increases the expenses of the bank and also deny locals of that opportunity to be employed. I hope to see some improvement at the next AGM.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gambia’s currency loses value

As at end-April 2012, the value of The Gambia’s currency, the Dalasi, depreciated against all major international currencies, Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley revealed during the quarterly press conference of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on 18 May.

Governor Colley said the value of the Dalasi dropped by 6.86 per cent against the US Dollar, 4.64 per cent against the Pound Sterling.  In nominal effective exchange rate terms, the Dalasi depreciated by 5 per cent.

In the year to end-March 2012, money supply grew by 9.0 per cent but lower than the growth rate of 14.9 per cent in March 2011.

At the same period, the domestic debt increased to D9.2 billion, equivalent to 31.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Treasury bills and Sukuk-Al-Salaam combined, and accounting for 78.8 per cent of the debt stock, rose to D7.43 billion compared to D6.0 billion in March 2011. The Gambia’s pays almost 25% of the annual national budget to interest on domestic debt.

AGIB D77m less in meeting Central Bank’s capital requirement

The Arab Gambian Islamic Bank is in need of D77 million to increase its minimum capital requirement to D200 million in line with the regulation of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG). 

The shareholders fund of the bank has dropped to D123 million as a result of the managerial provisions of the bank, according to the board chairman’s report, which says it is “compelled to seek an additional D77 million to meet the D200 million minimum requirement”.

At the 2nd Annual General Meeting of AGIB - since it was taken over by FinBank Plc, a Nigerian bank, - on Tuesday at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank, Adam Nuru, told shareholders of AGIB that the Board “would be seeking” its shareholders’ endorsement and permission to raise the additional equity to meet the minimum capital requirement”. 

The CBG in 2008 issued a directive for all the banks in the country to minimum capital requirement of 
shareholders fund to D150 million and D200 million by end of December 2010 and 2012 respectively.

AGIB has successfully met the first part of the increment after provision of US$2 million in June 2009 by the parent company – FinBank Plc - and it is auspicious of meeting the 2012 deadline on time.
“It is my belief, Insha Allah, that working together we would be able to meet this target come December 31st 2012,” Chairman Nuru said.

One in four sub-Saharan Africans goes hungry every day – UNDP report

A report by United Nations Development Programme says one in four sub-Saharan Africans, about 214 million people put together, goes hungry every day and warns that countries in the region cannot sustain current levels of economic growth without reaching out to their most marginalized inhabitants.

The UNDP Africa Human Development Report 2012:Towards a Food Secure Future, released on Tuesday, says “15 million of these vulnerable people live in the drought-struck, semi-arid belt of Sahel, which stretches across West and Central Africa. There, malnutrition is threatening the lives of one million children”.

The report also states that more than a million children in the Sahel region are at risk of dying because they don't have enough to eat

Many sub-Saharan African countries have Gini index measures between 0.35 and 0.6. The Gini index is a measure of income inequality used by some economists. A score of “1” on the index indicates perfect inequality (hypothetically all of the wealth is concentrated). A score of “0” indicates perfect equality (hypothetically, all wealth is shared equally among the population).

Niger, for example, has a Gini index of about 0.35, Mali has a Gini coefficient of about 0.33 and Mauritania has an income inequality level of about 0.41. All three countries are affected by the current hunger crisis in the Sahel.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gambia Gov’t Reiterates Confidence in Accused Corrupt Vice Chancellor

Prof Kah

The Gambia government has reaffirmed guaranteed trust and confidence in the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia, Professor Muhammadou O. Kah, who was accused of being corrupt by spending moneys of the university lavishly on travel cost and per diem, and appointing mainly his relatives into the university.

In a joint press release published on Monday, the Gambia government through the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in collaboration with the governing council of the University of the Gambia reaffirm their full confidence and trust in the vice chancellor and promised to continue to give him and his staff all the necessary support needed to strengthen and develop the university.

This came amidst widespread speculation that Prof. Kah will be fired, following the publication of the findings of the Gambia National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) investigative panel which portrait the professor to be corrupt and also earning a salary which is “outrageous” for a developing university, like that of the Gambia, to sustain.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Journalists urge to collaborate with other organizations to fight against money laundering, terrorist financing

Journalists have been called upon to collaborate with other organizations involved in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing to collectively ensure that appropriate measures are taken against the twin crimes in a more harmonized and concerted manner.
This is part of recommendations contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a 2-day interactive session for media executives and journalists in West Africa organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), held from April 27 – 28 in Dakar, Senegal.
According to the communiqué, the 30 journalists and media executives from across the 15 member states of ECOWAS who attended the seminar, recommended that media practitioners should collaborate with organizations like Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - the global standard-setter for measures to combat money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing; GIABA – an arm of ECOWAS established to fight money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa, and similar organizations at national level.

The recommended collaboration will help to devise a common direction and means to articulate a more concerted regional approach to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism to put a stop to the amount of millions of dollars being laundered in the West African sub-region annually.

It was also recommended that journalists should frequently visit the GIABA website ( and of FATF ( to keep themselves abreast with ML/FT issues.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GIABA strengthen partnership with media to clean W/Africa of money laundering

 Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has further strengthened its partnership with the media geared towards cleaning West Africa of the twin crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing.

The sub-regional institution has recently brought together media practitioners from various media houses within and outside the West African region at a seminar dubbed World Press Conference held from 27-28 April in Dakar, Senegal to re-orientate them about their complementary roles in creating a sub-region devoid of these transnational crimes which can potentially undermine the economic growth of sub-region if not properly check on time.

Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, director general of GIABA said the objectives of the World Press Conference includes to acquaint the media professionals about regional initiatives on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework, especially the mandate of GIABA in its sustained efforts to combat the twin crimes in the West African sub-region.