Gov’t seeks alternative to BADEA US$50M Loan for Gambian businesses   

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By Momodou Jarju

The Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Seedy Keita, has informed the members of parliament on Wednesday that the Gambia Government is discussing with partners to provide a loan facility to support Gambian businesses with less financial muscle.   

He said this development is necessitated by many Gambian businesses’ inability to meet the conditions of the US$50 million (which is equivalent to D3.4 billion) loan agreement between the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and The Gambia.

The loan, which was ratified by the national assembly in June 2023, is meant for the importation of petroleum products, food and other essential commodities from African and Arab countries. 

Minister Keita said the BADEA loan agreement is the first of its kind and they’ve looked into the facility and realised that not many of the business community in the country have the financial muscle or the guarantees in place to be able to pay the facility.

“As such, we have commenced discussion with other multilaterals such as ITFC [International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation] to make a similar line available which will be more granular, which will be smaller packets, less than 50 million, maybe like 5 million, 10 million depending on the size of the business,” he said in response to the supplementary question raised by the member for Upper Saloum, Alhagie Mbowe.  

Hon. Mbowe hinted the possibility of the ministry including Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC) in the loan facility who can import commodities, saying “we are aware that once they import, it actually lowers the price down.”

Minister Keita said: “For GGC, we have put them in touch with EBIT, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, and they have met with the team last week. We have also written a letter to EBIT to facilitate a financing for their working capital of 10 million to help them import essential commodities”.

Meanwhile, the member for Lower Saloum, Sainey Jawara, was the first legislator to ask the finance minister—during the questions for oral answer by the minister at the parliament—about the aforesaid loan agreement. He inquired about how the loan facility is being implemented and who the beneficiaries are.

Minister Keita answered: “It is important to note that the access to the facility required a one-off non-refundable upfront administrative payment of D48 million which must be paid by any interested company and a deposit of a corporate guarantee equivalent to the amount of the lending that is US$50 million. Following these meetings, only Jah Oil was willing to pay the administrative charges leading to the effectiveness of the financing and also post the necessary guarantee. This upfront payment unlocked the facility and was therefore granted to Jah Oil.”