U S Senegal Economic Guide 2017
February 28, 2022
Unlike a number of countries in West and Central Africa which are plagued by political rifts and even armed conflicts, the land of teranga (meaning “hospitality” in Wolof) continues to enjoy a peaceful existence, with a deep respect for democratic rules. In spite of the turbulent upheavals of history, such rules have been the foundation of the country’s stability since it obtained independence in 1960.
Senegal is a truly open-minded country, and is in an ideal position to encourage peace and concord between peoples of different religions. It is no coincidence that 72 countries have diplomatic representations in Senegal, from Saudi Arabia to Iran through Russia, India, Japan, China, the United States, France and Israel. In regard to political and economic relations, the country has close, long-standing links with the West, and has also forged relations with China. Furthermore, Senegal is deeply involved in sub-regional and international institutions, and is a member of a number of these, including the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Senegal River Basin Development Organization (OMVS), and the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
Because the country has always advocated appeasement within its borders, it is looked on as a mediator on the African scene, and is also a preferential interlocutor as far as the international community is concerned. This position has tended to be reinforced as the threat of Islamic terrorism in the Sahel grows. By reducing the presidential term to five years following the referendum held on March 20, 2016, the President of the Republic, Macky Sall, is acting fully in line with his illustrious predecessors in defending democratic values. Since his election, he has undertaken deep political and economic reforms, and initiated a string of major works aimed at kick-starting Senegal’s development.The major infrastructure projects started in the early 2000s were not affected by the change of regime in March 2012. In his message to the nation in December 2015, the President announced that 2016 would be “a year of major works and projects,” and he has been true to his word, not only continuing those initiated by his predecessor, but also embarking on new projects, such as the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center (CICAD), the Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD) and the DakarDiamniadio highway. Efforts to ensure that the country is well-connected as regards both transport and energy are under way. According to Macky Sall, electrification must be the driving force behind the emergence of rural areas.
The annual growth rate, which is close to 6.5%, opens up numerous development prospects. The country’s economy relies mainly on tertiary activities (64% of GDP), followed by the secondary sector (21%), and finally the primary (15%). Yet these figures do not fully reflect the real situation in the country, bearing in mind that agriculture employs close to 70% of the working population and in fact plays a vital social and economic role. Since the Emerging Senegal Plan was introduced, the sector has been among the priorities of the state, which is focusing its efforts on improving, expanding and securing agricultural production with a view to reducing poverty and imports while at the same time developing exports.
Accelerating the industrialization process and exploiting new mines should also contribute to that end, with the help of national and foreign investors. The private sector is an essential element of the Emerging Senegal Plan. Senegal is relying on its Investment Promotion and Major Projects Agency (APIX) to help it become a competitive business destination which meets international standards. The agency does everything it can to help investors make the very best of the opportunities available in the country, notably by providing technical assistance and granting tax and customs benefits. As an example, close to 9,000 businesses were set up in 2014.
Senegal continues to climb up the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, reaching 147th place in 2017. Like investors, tourists are welcomed with open arms; indeed, if there is a sector that deserves attention, it is without a doubt the tourism industry. The country boasts no shortage of attractions: beautiful beaches, natural parks rich in fauna and flora, a diversity of landscapes from the lush vegetation of the Casamance delta to the Sahelian savanna, and, of course, the people, who are both kind-natured and young (the average age is 19).
Huge efforts are now under way to turn the country back into the major tourist destination it was a few years ago. Progress can be seen everywhere, reinforcing the idea that the country is on its way to emergence. There is no question about it: Senegal is back.