In late 2016, the former president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, lost an election but refused to step down, until the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened, sending troops into the Gambia to ensure the transition of power to Adama Barrow. The new president was elected on campaign promises of reducing not only corruption, but also ballooning government debt and military spending, as well as reforming the economy. In a country that has seen poor governance and persistent unemployment, these reforms are welcome. However, it is too early to see if President Barrow will be able to achieve increased economic growth.
The Gambian people are slowly benefitting from the country’s development. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita remains low, reflecting the low level of economic development. Life expectancy at birth remains relatively low, reflecting poor medical outcomes. However, technology brings together the population. Even though a large proportion of the country does not have electricity, there is a higher number of mobile cellular subscriptions than people in the country, illustrating how mobile phones are driving change.