India and The Gambia share a friendly relation and share many common ideals in the domain of foreign policy such as adherence to multilateralism, common position of decolonisation, and eliminating the North-South divide. Both countries also share the membership of the Non-Aligned Movement. Gambia and India have also witnessed growing trade relations in recent years. Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at over US$ 62 billion for 2017-18.
Gambia’s relation with India began in 1965 and have continued to expand. The recent visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to The Gambia has further strengthened the relations between the two countries. The Indian President in his address to the National Assembly of Gambia on 31 July 2019 highlighted the significance of India-Gambia relations and mentioned that India-Gambia relations are not only confined within bilateral ambit but also in the international fora and the United Nations. The two countries need each other to realise the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. He said India and The Gambia shared long standing bond, while congratulating Gambian President Adama Barrow for fostering greater democracy, stability and nation building. He reiterated that India remains committed to partner with The Gambia in its progress and prosperity, adding that they look forward to continue friendship and ever going partnership with mutual trust and confidence.
India is committed to supporting The Gambia’s development plans in the areas of education, solar energy, industries, democracy and capacity building training. India has, in keeping with The Gambian priorities, extended support for its social and economic progress – from capacity building, financial assistance to implementing infrastructure projects. India has provided concessional lines of credit worth US$ 78.5 million to support programs of rural development, agriculture, drinking water, healthcare and setting up physical infrastructure of The Gambia. Another line of credit of US$ 92 million has been extended.
During his visit, Indian President Kovind mentioned that India will stand by The Gambia in its realisation of set targeted goals in Gambia’s three years development blueprint; the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2021. Specific areas of cooperation to extend assistance with half a million dollars in support of school development and other industrial projects have been identified. India has also been assisting The Gambia in fostering enterprise and entrepreneurship. The National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) of India has established a Vocational Training Centre in The Gambia to provide skill training in fields such as plumbing, welding, electrical work, the construction industry, carpentry, draftsman-ship, survey, plastic technology, ICT, agro and food processing, and gemstones cutting and polishing. An Incubation Center at the Gambian Technical Training Institute has also been established with Indian assistance.
The India-UN project for Flood and Disaster Management has launched projects to assist the Gambia to provide an impetus for South-South cooperation. The initiatives Using Drones and Early Warning Systems for Pre- and Post-Floods Disaster Management in the Gambia Drones established an end-to-end flood warning system by introducing state of the art technology and building national networks and capacities to rapidly identify risks and damages.
According to Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, the project shows the “highly practical and impactful nature of South-South partnerships”. These projects were formulated by the government of The Gambia in line with their national priorities and benefitting from UNESCO’s technical and administrative support and generous funding by the Government of India. India and the Gambia have also cooperated in the healthcare sector. Indian medicines, vaccines and healthcare expertise are providing affordable health choices to people in The Gambia. During his visit, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind mentioned that the Gambia had ratified the Instrument of Accession to the International Solar Alliance and that this will open up new opportunities of collaboration between the two countries on solar energy and help The Gambia in climate change.