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Senegal Overview


    Country Overview

    Senegal is located in the western most part of Africa’s Sahel region and has a national territory spanning 196,722 km². Its population is estimated at 13.5 million, 50% of which live in urban zones.  

    Political Context

    Senegal is one of the most stable countries in Africa, and has considerably strengthened its democratic institutions since its independence in 1960. Senegal has had four presidents: the first, Leopold Sedar Senghor, governed from 1960 to 1980 and handed over power peacefully to Abdou Diouf.  In 2000, Senegal witnessed its first democratic transition which resulted in a victorious vote for the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and their candidate Abdoulaye Wade.

    In the 2012 elections, former prime minister of Senegal Macky Sall challenged the incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade and won the run-off election with 65.8% of the vote. The 2012 elections were the first to feature two female candidates, and were characterized by a high degree of transparency and universal acceptance of the results.

    Economic Overview

    Senegal aspires to become an emerging country by 2035. However, it has been stuck in a low-growth equilibrium since 2006, and has not shared the rapid growth experienced by many other sub-Saharan African countries over the last decade. Compared to the average growth rate of 6% for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), growth in Senegal has averaged only 3.3% since 2006. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2013 was approximately 3% due in part to poor cereal harvests and low production rates in mining and industry. Currently, construction and the services sectors are the main drivers of economic growth.

    Economic performance is expected to improve in 2014, with a growth rate of 4.5% thanks to a boost in the secondary sector of the economy and an improved business climate. Nonetheless, low rainfall and the impact of Ebola could reduce predicted gains in growth going forward.  

    Medium-term outlook

    Over the medium term, Senegal is expected to regain economic momentum with the implementation of the Plan Senegal Emergent (Senegal Emergence Plan or PSE). Senegalese authorities have high expectations for growth in the coming years predicting rates of 6.7% in 2015 and 8% by 2017. Significant public investments are anticipated, supported by technical and financial partners who made large contributions at the Paris Consultation Group in February 2014. However, the success of the PSE will also hinge on the growth and implication of Senegal’s private sector. A rigorous program to reform the country’s business climate is already underway.

    Development Challenges

    An underdeveloped investment climate, declining competitiveness, and weak governance systems have prevented the private sector from helping to stimulate the economy. In addition, natural disasters such as droughts and flooding have slowed growth and increased the vulnerability of the entire economy.

    In addition, suboptimal management of exports such as peanuts, seafood, and phosphates have also slowed growth. The tourism sector, which has potential to increase revenues, has also been neglected. In order to strengthen the Senegalese economy and increase its resilience to internal and external shocks, more efforts need to be made to better diversify the economy in the areas of horticulture, mining, telecommunications, and manufacturing.

    In light of this, the new government has developed an ambitious program that prioritizes diversification and exports. The The Senegal Emergence Plan intends to reverse this downward trend by increasing the productivity of Senegal’s economy in the public and private sectors, both of which are underperforming compared to the past and to its peers.

    Social Context

    Poverty remains high and GDP growth remains well below the rates necessary for significant poverty reduction. A continued dependence on remittances to fuel domestic demand and a growing reliance on capital-intensive exports in compensation for faltering labor-intensive sectors results in few new job creation opportunities.

    Since 2005, repeated shocks have contributed to reducing per capita income growth to little more than the rate of population growth. A 2011 household survey indicates that poverty has declined by only 1.8 percentage points to 46.7%, and in reality, the number of poor has increased. Inequality in Senegal remains moderate, with the Gini coefficient of inequality estimated at 38; compared to an average of 42 in sub-Saharan Africa. However, geographic disparities remain quite pronounced given the 57% poverty rate in rural areas versus a 26% poverty rate in Senegal’s capital Dakar.  A majority of the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved. 

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014

    Senegal: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

    World Bank Group Engagement in Senegal

    A new International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) joint Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the period of FY2013-2017 was discussed by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on February 19, 2013. The new CPS is fully aligned with the new Government’s strategy and priorities. Under the new CPS, the World Bank Group’s support will be anchored on one foundation: building resilience through a strengthened governance framework that aims to accelerate inclusive growth and employment, and improve service delivery.

    The current Bank portfolio under supervision has a total of fourteen national IDA operations, three regional IDA operations, and eight trust fund operations. The total commitment for all active projects is $1.3 billion. The largest shares of the portfolio are dedicated to agriculture (26%), education/health/social protection (23%), followed by energy/mining (18%), and transportation (10%).

    International Finance Corporation (IFC)

    The IFC's current committed portfolio in Senegal, as of February 2014, is $67.7 million. In order to further promote private sector development as part of the new CPS agenda, the IFC seeks to: (i) increase access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SME) and microenterprise through financial intermediaries and the provision of investment and advisory services; (ii) support the private provision of infrastructure with a focus on power and transportation; (iii) support the agribusiness value chain directly and through financial intermediaries, and (iv) help the Government of Senegal to regain the momentum it has built up in the past in terms of improving the business environment.

    Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

    The MIGA has supported both inward and outward foreign direct investment (FDI) in favor of Senegal over the years. As of February 2014, the MIGA’s gross exposure in Senegal was $146.3 million.

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014

    Senegal: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

    Water and Sanitation

    The World Bank has supported Senegal for nearly two decades in the water and sanitation sector through three successive projects: the Water Sector Project (PSE), the Long Term Water Sector Project (PELT), and the on-going Water and Sanitation Millennium Project (PEPAM). A follow-up operation is planned under the new Country Partnership Strategy.

    The World Bank’s intervention to-date has yielded the following results:

    • A successful urban water reform, based on a strong public-private partnership (PPP), has enabled people living in towns to have universal access to water at a nearly 100% access rate, mainly through private connections.
    • Senegal is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa possessing significant sanitation infrastructures (collective sewage, waste water and sludge treatment plants) and a dedicated national body in charge of developing and operating the infrastructures.
    • More recent World Bank intervention in the rural sector has contributed to reaching a water access rate of 81.2%, in rural areas. Senegal will exceed the Millennium Development target of 82%.

    Dakar-Diamniadio Toll Highway

    The Dakar-Diamniadio Toll Road, the first of its kind in the region, has reduced travel times between downtown Dakar and Diamniadio from about 90 to 30 minutes along with the cost of such congestion to the Senegalese economy, which is estimated at 4.6% of Senegal’s GDP. As the project progresses, it will also improve access to existing and planned major infrastructure projects concerning Dakar’s harbor, the regional transportation of goods, a proposed special economic zone, Dakar’s new airport, and a new conference center.

    The project has leveraged about $122 million from the private sector through SENAC S.A., a project company established to build, equip for tolling, operate and maintain this 24 km-long Toll Road on a 30-year Build and Operate (BOT) concession. Thanks to the upgrades made in Pikine Irrégulier Sud, the project will also improve the living conditions of about 200,000 people as it provides better urban roads, community facilities, and drainage mechanisms to prevent flooding, a critical problem in Dakar’s suburbs.


    The World Bank is a strong supporter of the Senegalese education system. The current World Bank support to the sector consists of a global amount of $251 million, in addition to a project of $35 million which is under preparation.

    Since 2000, Senegal’s education sector has made significant progress in terms of access. The Growth Enrollment Rate (GER) at the primary level, which was 81% in 2005, has increased to 94% in 2013. The secondary level enrollment rate is expanding as well, reflecting the growth in the size of incoming cohorts.  In 2011, youth between the ages of 15 to 19 were twice as likely to have attended middle school as youth of the same age five years earlier. Inequity in school enrollment has also been reduced at the primary level. With an efficient policy and expenditure drive over the past few years, the GER for girls now exceeds that of boys. Senegal has also been successful in improving the learning environment by reducing class size and achieving a pupil to teacher ratio of 37, which is one of the lowest in the region. 

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014

    Senegal: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

    Most bilateral and multilateral development agencies have an active presence in Senegal. Considerable progress has been made in recent years in order to streamline development assistance in Senegal, as consistent with the principles articulated in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda. 

    Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014

Country Office Contacts
Main Office Contact:
(221) 33-859-41-00

In Senegal:
Mademba Ndiaye (221)

Bureau de la Banque mondiale
Corniche Ouest X Rue Léon Gontran Damas
Dakar, Senegal
In Washington:
Marie-Chantal Uwanyiligira
Country Program Coordinator

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433