Setting Up & Starting A Business In The Gambia

Starting a new business in The Gambia can be both exciting and rewarding, but it is also full of challenges. The level of commitment that you will need should not be underestimated. The success of your business will partly depend on your attitude and skills. This means being honest about a range of issues – your knowledge, your financial status and the personal qualities that you can bring to your new business.

Gambian Business Registration & Company Formation

It is a requirement under the Business Registration Act 1973 to register and obtain a Certificate of Registration or where applicable, a Certificate of Incorporation before operating a business in The Gambia. The Certificate or a certified copy must be displayed in a conspicuous position at the principal place of business. The Certificate is valid for the calendar year and must be renewed yearly.

Businesses in The Gambia may be registered as a company (with a maximum size of 50 members), a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or other forms of business (namely co-operatives, branches of foreign companies).

  • Procedure 1. Search for company name takes 1 day. The search is conducted manually at the registry
  • Procedure 2. Notarize company statutes takes 1 day.
  • Procedure 3. Payment of stamp duty and deposit of corporate tax with Commissioner of Income Tax takes 1 day.
  • Procedure 4. Register with the Commercial Registry takes 2 day and the registration fee varies depending on the share capital of the company based on a tariff published by the Finance ministry.
  • Procedure 5. Obtain operational license takes 1 day for the Banjul City Council or the biggest municipality (Kinifing Municipality). This license has to be renewed annually.
  • Procedure 6. Forward copies of the employment contracts to the labor department and in accordance with the Labor Act, copies of employees’ contracts must be sent to the Department of Labor.
  • Procedure 7. Register employees with the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation. The employees contribute 5% of their monthly salary to the social security department; the employer pays 10% of the employees’ salary. Depending on the number of employees, this process takes maximum 7 days.

Labour and Employment in Gambia: The Labour Act

The legal framework of labour relations consists of the Labour Act, 1990, and of regulations issued thereunder. Its administration is the responsibility of a Commissioner of Labour, who acts under the supervision of the Department of State for Trade, Industry and Employment. The Act is a comprehensive document that covers the general conditions of employment including dismissal as well as recruitment and hiring of labour, registration and training, protection of wages, registration of trade unions and employers’ organisations, industrial relations, and procedures for the settlement of labour disputes.

The 1990 Labour Act has been under review, with a view toward, among other things, making labour legislations in The Gambia supplementary to and supportive of the aspirations of Vision 2020 in the area of industrial relations and effective worker protection.

The has one of the most affordable labour both in terms of costs of hiring and maintenance. The Gambian workforce is generally regarded as friendly and hardworking

The Gambia has a liberal policy concerning the employment of foreigners for managerial and technical assignments. Depending on the requirements of the company, as judged by an allocation committee, the company is allotted an expatriate quota for specific posts for a stipulated period of time.

Applications for expatriate quotas should be made on forms obtainable from GIPFZA, or from the Secretary, Expatriate Quota Allocation Board, Office of The Vice President, Banjul Tel. +(220) 227-153.

When permission has been secured, a residence permit should be obtained, usually after the arrival in The Gambia of the person(s) concerned. The entry permit covers the immediate members of the expatriate’s family. However, they are not permitted to undertake any employment without prior permission.

Education and Training in Gambia

Primary education in The Gambia is free but not compulsory. In the 1998-1999 school year 150,400 children were enrolled in primary school (81 percent of this age group), while 47,100 were enrolled in a secondary school (31 percent of secondary school-aged children). The country’s institutions of higher education include The Gambia College, in Bríkama, and several technical and training schools.

Gambian Employment in Agriculture and Fishing

Some 82 percent of the working population of The Gambia is engaged in agriculture. Rice and millet, as well as cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry, are raised for local consumption. Peanuts are grown primarily for export; the crop amounted to 126,000 metric tons in 2001.
The sale of peanuts and peanut products accounted for about three-quarters of total yearly domestic exports by value in the 1990s.  The government has introduced the raising of cotton, sisal, citrus fruits, and tobacco to diversify agricultural production. The coastal villages engage in fishing. In 1997 the fish catch was 32,258 metric tons, mostly from marine waters.

Jobs in Manufacturing, Currency, and Trade

Manufacturing in The Gambia is limited mainly to the processing of peanuts and other primary products and to the building of fishing boats. Other manufactures include beverages, clothing, footwear, and handicrafts. The country’s unit of currency, adopted in 1971, is the dalasi (12.79 dalasi equal U.S.$1; 2000 average), consisting of 100 butut; it is issued by the Central Bank of The Gambia (1971). The cost of The Gambia’s yearly imports is usually much more than its export earnings; in 2000 imports totaled $210 million and exports were valued at $9 million. The main trading partners for exports were Japan, Belgium and Luxembourg, Senegal, Guinea, France, and the United States; principal partners for imports were the China, Côte d’Ivoire, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Germany, Senegal, Thailand, and the United States.