Gambia-France relations

Thursday, July 05, 2018

After a dormant period following the Coup d’État in 1994, bilateral cooperation between France and Gambia resumed in 1997 and a cultural, scientific, technical and economic cooperation agreement was signed on 24 February 1998. This cooperation mainly aims to promote bilingualism in Gambia with a view to regional integration. Although Gambia’s official language is English, French has an important place given the country’s geopolitical position. Since being bilingual in French and English is seen as a factor for economic development, Gambian authorities have made it an objective of their education policy.

Gambia made an application for observer status at the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 2010, but that request has gone no further. It may be re-examined following the political changes in January 2017.

As the only cultural centre in Gambia, the Alliance Française branch in Banjul is the cornerstone of our cultural action in the country. It was founded in 1949 and has a library of more than 3,000 books and multimedia and an educational resource centre that French teachers can consult free of charge.

A seminar on transitional justice should be organized in autumn 2017 in order to support the ongoing reforms in Gambia.

Today, the relationship between the two countries is more cordial than ever. At the international conference, France pledged Fifty Million Euros (50, 000,000) for the Gambia as grant and has also opened its diplomatic antenna in The Gambia

Official visit to France by President Adama Barrow (14-16 March 2017), during which he met with the French President, François Hollande. President Barrow participated in the Bamako Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence on 13 and 14 January 2017 where he met with President François Hollande.

On economy, trade relations between Gambia and France remain limited. French imports are exclusively agrifood products (peanuts and by-products) while exports mainly concern equipment and intermediary goods.

Gambia only accounts for a small portion of our trade with West Africa. Our exports totalled €8 million in 2016, while our imports stood at €5 million, made up almost wholly of food oils.

There are few French companies working in Gambia. The Total Group has a network of service stations. In 2009, the Castel Group took over a beer and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing plant. CMA CGM and AGS are working in the transport and logistics sectors. The electricity sector, particularly renewable energy (solar and wind power), and water treatment may offer many opportunities.

A Guest Editorial