The Foreign Exchange Rate Crisis

UDP logoThe Foreign Exchange Rate Crisis and the Impact on Gambians at Home and Diaspora.

Once again, Gambians are greeted with dumbfounded news that major currency values will be pegged and depreciated against the Dalasi through a directive from the Office of the President. The directive, as usual, came-in without warning or engagement with the business sector as expected of any responsible government.

The shock on both businesses and the Gambian diaspora is unimaginably devastating with all the dare consequences on the economy. As of Friday, 1st May, banks were selling £1 at D80, the US1 at D52 and 1Euro at D60.

But since the untimely decision by the Office of the President, banks and money transfer bureaus are forced to sell US Dollars at $1 at D35, £1 at D50 and 1 Euro at D40.

By rough estimate, as from the date of this rash, manipulative, and unwise presidential decision, financial services dealing in foreign currency business are making a loss of D17 per $1, D30 per £1 and D20 per 1 Euro. The loss is within the conversion rates and the transfer fees commission. The loss is further in two fold, the banks lose and the Forex bureaus also lose.

It is against business sense to sell commodities at below the cost price. Forex bureaus, local Gambian banks, Western union, Money Gram, RIA all took Dollars, Pound sterling, Euros from customers at the market price up to the 2 of May, after which period, the ‘government directives’ came into force, instructing banks to buy or sell the foreign currencies at below the market rate.

This is the causes of the serious loses to all players. Within the larger context of cumulative shock and impact, Gambian money transfer bureaus operating in U.K, and other parts of Europe and America are expected to make operational loses of not less than D100million.

It has to be noted that The Gambia economy under the present regime is in a worst situation than it had ever been in her modern history. The standard of living and the purchasing power of the average citizen has declined significantly as a result of the seemingly unstoppable high inflation affecting every sector of the economy. The most noticeable hope for Gambians inside the Gambia is the remittances sent in by diaspora Gambians.

However since the Presidential decision to artificially peg the Dalasi against major international currencies, diaspora Gambians are now forced to send in more funds as financial aid to compensate for the differences between the old exchange rate and the new artificial rate set by the President.    

The UDP sees this as yet another deliberate decision by the Executive to manipulate the economy and artificially fix prices as a veneer to cover-up the APRC government’s failed economic policies that have given rise to the unprecedented economic woes the country currently faces.  

The UDP strongly condemns this latest interference in the management and the regulation of the markets. It is a serious violation of trust and confidence Gambian people bestowed on their government.

As a party, we sympathise with the Gambian people especially our hard working diasporas who have to adjust at the expense of their pauses and family comfort, to make room for this callous, and unplanned decision by the President to unilaterally appreciate the dalasi against major international currencies.

The combine impact this sudden and drastic tinkering with the exchange rates will cause to the economy is enamours. It will lead to reduced net inflow of foreign exchange to the country, some financial service particularly foreign exchange bureaus will have to lay-off staff, some may default in rent payments, and more seriously, Gambian businesses will eventually lose out because ultimately, with the confusing signal the government is sending out, it may be difficult to get Bank Guarantees and Letters of Credit (LCs) to proof their credit worthiness to their overseas business partners.

The United Democratic Party recommends that, the best way to regulate the exchange rates is to have a stage by stage or incremental appreciation of the value of the Dalasi.

We believe this latest ‘Executive order’ will lead to hoarding of foreign currency, which will create artificial shortage and thus force the exchange rates to go up. The losers here are everyone: the importers, diaspora Gambians, ordinary people, and the government itself in the form of reduced tax revenues.

It is important to note that a country’s exchange rate is one of the most important determinants of relative level of economic health. Exchange rates play a vital role in a country’s level of trade, which is critical to all free market economy. For this reason, exchange rates cannot and should not be meddled with to suit the President’s whims and caprices. Interest rates, inflation and exchange rates are all highly correlated; they impact on each other. The economy should be managed without emotion or undue pressures from the executive.

In barely 3 months, the Gambia government received an emergency loan from the IMF in the region of (US$10.8 million). The fact that we received an emergency loan indicates a budget deficit and inability to finance the government expenditures.

A drastic reduction of foreign direct support to the government because of its lack of respect for human rights and rule of law, have seen the Gambian economy contrast to a near stagnation. Tourism which is one the country’s main foreign exchange earner, has also been severely hit following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. Gambia derives 30% of its export earnings from tourism. But a 60% fall in tourism has led to a 12% depreciation of the local currency (Dalasi) against major international currencies causing an accelerated increase in food prices and other consumer goods.

The president and his APRC Party have failed the people and massively for that matter. Power and brute force cannot be used to regulate an economy. Competent and qualified technocrats must be allowed to carry out their duties without fear of harassment. The office of the President has become a cocktail of many blends. This is why the UDP demands an end to the 20 years of failed AFPRC/APRC misrule characterized by irrational, childish and adventurous policies that continue to destroy the fabrics of the very survival of the country.

 Lawyer Ousainou Darboe

Party Leader/Secretary General

United Democratic Party

The Gambia



  1. Thank you Mr Darboe. You have spoken for large majority of Gambians abroad. This willful interference and meddling is criminal. It is high time a protest is held against such executive criminality.
    Many can speak on Gambian affairs but the world listen to very few and you’re on top of the pile. This is why you need to do more of this and more.
    I am loving your renewed engagement with Gambian issues. God bless you and the UDP.

  2. Upset man

    I am deeply angry at the way the President treat us business people. As of today, my financial loss is around D67000. I was holding dollar which I took from customers to be remitted at D52. Yet now, i have to continue holding on to the business dollar. How long can we put up with this?
    This is the second big loss I made, Yet when i contacted fellow Forex bureaus to act, no one want to do anything, People are scared to even publicly speak out about their losses.
    Thank you Lawyer Darboe for explaining our loss. In fact, some bigger Forex vendors lost more than D3million. One Pullfuta trader lost over D7Million, he was holding over $250, 000 to be sold to banks. I am devasted.
    This is what we expect from leading politicians. Forex bureaus need to consider investing in UDP to force the system to change.

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      Everybody needs to consider investing in UDP but more so the business community. If we do this together, Jammeh will soon be isolated and become history.

      Thank you Upset man for sharing your pain and that of others with us. Speak out guys. It does help.


  3. In the first place, where are the banks and the legal exchange bereaus? How come you guys hoard too much dalasi, awaiting better exchange rate opportunities. D7million should be in the bank, isn’t?, I need help I don’t understand such issues that much. Do we have anything regular up there? Extreme abnormalities in the exchange rate system deems irresponsibility of our central bank I think……

    • My observation is that the ordinary consumer is also losing from the so-called directive interference in the exchange rate regime. The business person/importer may recover his losses eventually but there is no room for the consumer to recover anything because the prices of goods remain the same at the market. The business person will now purchase the Dollar at a lower rate of 40 dalasi and import goods and can even increase his/her prices while the consumer is forced to buy goods at the same high price or more.
      Secondly, the low dollar rate is forcing a lot of people to with hold their money until the dollar rise up a bit before they could send remittance to their loved ones which is creating hardships and also slowing down the economy especially in the construction industry which is dominated by the diaspora remittances and which in turn increases unemployment in the sector.So the loss is phenomenal and the only winner appears to be the president alone.

      • No Yerro, you still don’t understand my worries. Do you count out the probability that too many bags of the Central Bank Dalasis can fall out from its coffers on to the insane foreign exchange market desks in Albert market. I mean,..the bill that, ‘promise to pay on demand the sum of’ itself, might end up in our cooking pots when we have all of it in other people’s suitcases on the desks in rows, in the market, and the banknote loaded suitcases waiting there like some kind of a consumers stock…….., only for illegal and dishonest shareholders to hold their respective shares on pay day. I am sorry to be so superficial on this issues but this is my way of seeing it.
        It might have started in the colonial years like most of our problems got their roots from, according to many experienced people, but this kind of an awkward and awful exchange rate system, as i understand is globally illegal.

  4. Yero Bah, I agree with you, the Gambians at home are suffering more. Since the depreciation of Dollar began, I refuse to send any more since then, And many are doing likewise. Hopefully, our family members will be compelled to understand why we reject the dictatorship.

  5. Manipulation of forex is not new. Several countries have tried this before. It does not last long. Money is not the only commodity that transfers. The diaspora could conduct the transfer of tinned food or cooking oil etc which could be resold. {Gaining in Value} With the closeness of Gambian diasporan communities…the shared cost of a container would be more than offset by the increased profits accrued.

    What the President’s “initiative” will do is increase imported commodity prices, probably by as much as 8%.This could be a good first introduction for the youth into self employment as commodity brokers.

    Alternatively…larger cash transactions could be given through Senegal.Not withstanding the corruption that would follow at the border posts ?In this, cooperative community banks could be established.

    The depreciation of the Dalasis has been going on for more than 15 years. It will continue to do so under this government.

    It is a significant pointer to poor government performance.

    Any new government would start from a position of crippling debt.

    However, any new government that is truly democratic and free market oriented could expect western donor support and an influx of foreign investors with much venture capital. I would also suggest that repatriation of Gambians would bring a wealth of new ideas and education.
    The majority of African’s in the UK enjoin in the pursuit of University degree’s and many go on to higher education…in there chosen fields of rewarding career’s.

  6. This illegal currency manipulations by the tyrannical kanilai Murderer has been ongoing since about years 2000 to date…. The Murderous kanilai Predator has been instructing the Central Bank behind the scenes to be pegging the exchange rate of foreign currencies; that’s why the Dalasi appeared to have stayed considerably “strong” against the foreign currencies on exchange over the years, whilst in ACTUAL fact the Dalasi doesn’t posses any purchasing power in itself as a currency neither on the ground in the country nor beyond our borders…..

    In such an unfortunate country of ours, everybody direct & indirectly attached to the country suffers in a way or another & ALL pays for the effects of tyrannical oppression & irresponsible maladministration…..

    Evil Murderous yaya Devil of kanilai is personally covertly engage in forex businesses within & outside Gambia; so these manipulative pegging of forex rates are deceptive ways of Murderous yaya kanilai Devil forcefully thieving from hard earned moneys being sent as remittances & other financial transactions to & from the Gambia…..

    The Murderous Evil kanilai Devil is currently the Devil behind the Bayba Gambia transfers being covered by equally evil elements in the Central Bank since that business was forcefully hijacked from the legitimate rightful owners some years ago.


    The Murderous Evil kanilai yaya Devil is meddling in the forex manipulations purposely for broad day ROBBERY; the Evil yaya Devil deliberately sends its evil robbing so-called security apparatus to raid & rob the forex dealers & temporally close some of them over a period for BANDITRY….

    Whilst the Murderous kanilai yaya Devil continue to thief our sweats through the Bayba transfers to Gambia which continues whilst the kanilai MURDERER continues to hinder & destroy the livelihood of others in forex & other businesses & rest of US ALL Gambians…????

    Gambians, I’m not telling you what to do BUT WHOSOEVER transfer money through Bayba Gambia must know the Murderous yaya EVIL kanilai Devil is pocketing, e.g. D30 & more from every £1 you send, plus your transactional fees; we can all do our own calculations for the other currencies…..

    God help, bless Gambia, & RID us of the MOST MURDEROUS OPPRESSIVE TYRANNICAL SATANIC LUNATIC in the annals of Gambian history; Ameen.

  7. Here guys, I missed to have indicated that the horrible state of our dilapidated non-performing & nearly dead economy is so TERRIBLE that, IF the REAL exchange rates were to determine the legal free markets rates in Gambia over the years to date as to the health if our economy, say for the British pound sterling (£) to our worthless Dalasi (D) currency would range AT LEAST between D150 to D200 or more per £1 today…..

    It’s the illegal illegitimate manipulative manoeuvres by the Murderous Oppressive Tyrannical kanilai KILLER DEVIL over the years that kept us all paying out VERY VERY DEARLY in one way & another, for the pungent tyrannical maladministration & dirty manipulative & direct forceful robbery unending, coupled with the wanton murderer & destruction of innocent lives, assets, properties, resources, funds, grants, loans, etc etc….


    Gambians MUST do ALL & ANYTHING within our resolve to take back control of our destiny; it gets WORSE by hour & day but not too late; we MUST all start targeting ANYTHING & EVERYTHING that got to do with the MURDEROUS kanilai KILLER & equal evil cohorts in the oppressive syndicate services in collective efforts to bring them down crashing by ALL MEANS NECESSARY….

    ANY AMOUNT & TYPE of sabotages against the Murderous yaya EVIL kanilai KILLER DEVIL & cohorts will get us going towards our salvaging which must be continued courageously to the successful ending….

    God helps & bless the collective endeavour to salvage Gambia; Ameen.

  8. Agapm,i was not responding to you particular when i stated my opinion.What i know is that currency trading is part and parcel of the global trade. The weekly Treasury bills and auctions is all about trade in currency. That is why businesspersons are continuously checking out the latest information on T-bills offers so that they would know where to invest to make the maximum gain. I for one did not see much wrong with that as long as it is the economy which is regulating it.
    Gambia like all other countries must strive to make the right investments in the productive sector such as Agriculture and Industry so as to boost production and processing in all the products that we produce in our country, not just to produce crops but to process them as well. In that case we have the lee-way to give prices to our commodities inside and outside to make the required gain for ourselves that would commensurate with our input.
    For example, our export earnings should be able to cater for our import bill or requirements or almost close to it. In that case we can say we are getting closer to making our currency strong enough to compete with others and succeed in accruing to us our right share from the global trade.
    We should also continuously make investments in Tourism to attract tourists who are a source of hard currency to enable us to have more stock of foreign currency as to allow the Dalasi to appreciate against other outside currencies. That will go a long way in bringing down inflation and prices if you like.
    If we succeed in doing the above, no matter what happens, the Gambian house wife would be able to take home the quality food required for the family and the businessperson would also continue to make his money in a clean way. It would be a win-win situation for all.
    Instead of working towards that direction the Jammeh regime prefers to use what some say is the militarization of stabilizing currencies in an already failed economy.

  9. Yerro, I am sorry for misunderstanding you when I thougt you where clearing my doubts on what I referred to as ‘money hoarding’, when your comment directly boxed with the one I made. I Ggapm, faceless nameless however, is very much impressed by fair, honest and tolerant politicians who are not simply conflictive for the sake of it. Does it really matter who responds to me and who don’t? There is not a reason to care or believe me but Ggapm have no idea who one of those Kairo forum contributors and participants are.

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