Located in the westernmost part of the African continent, Senegal is bordered by Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. Senegal enjoys a dry tropical climate and has a population of 16.7 million people, a quarter of whom live in the Dakar area (0.3% of the territory).
Senegal is one of the most stable countries in Africa, with three peaceful political transitions since independence in 1960. In power since 2012, President Macky Sall was elected to a second five-year term in office in February 2019.
The legislative elections of July 31, 2022 created an unprecedented situation in Senegal with a national assembly without an absolute majority. The ruling coalition, Benno Bokk Yakaar (United in Hope), won 82 out of 165 seats, with the five opposition coalitions sharing the other 83: Yewwi Askan Wi (Liberate the People, 56), Wallu (Rescue Senegal, 24), Bokk Guiss Guiss (Same Vision, 1), Aar Senegal (Protect Senegal, 1) and Les Serviteurs (The Servants, 1). Presidential election is scheduled on February 25, 2024.
While Senegal has so far been spared the violence engulfing the region, terrorist group activities in neighboring countries and cross-border trafficking risk fueling instability.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflict in Ukraine induced sizable terms-of-trade shocks, noticeably reducing growth for 2022 and leading to sustained high fiscal deficits and debt levels, with little room for maneuver. Real GDP growth is estimated to have decelerated to 4.2 percent in 2022, compared to a pre-shock forecast of 5.5 percent, as higher food and energy prices, trade disruptions, and greater uncertainty caused private investment to decline. The same transmission channels added to a surge in average inflation since the beginning of 2022, reaching a muti-decade high level of 14.1 percent y/y in November 2022 and decelerating to 9.4 percent in February 2023. As a result, average inflation is estimated at 9.6 percent in 2022 up from 2.2 percent in 2021 driven by food prices which increased on average by 15 percent in 2022 compared to 2.9 percent in 2021.
The pandemic has significantly altered the country’s economic outlook, affecting services such as tourism and transport, and exports. Senegal has responded with several containment measures and has implemented an Economic and Social Resilience Program (Programme de Résilience Économique et Sociale, PRES). Nevertheless, limited fiscal buffers and safety nets, a vulnerable health care system, and a large informal sector pose challenges.
Economic recovery will likely be gradual. Reforms envisaged under the Emerging Senegal Plan (Plan Sénégal Émergent, PSE) need to be deepened for growth to resume its pre-pandemic trajectory. Services remain the main contributor to GDP, and the primary sector (agriculture, in particular) the most dynamic engine of growth. Oil and gas projects have been delayed because of the health crisis and are not expected to contribute to revenues and exports before 2035.
Senegal’s key development challenge is to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic while enabling sustainable and inclusive growth. This will require:
- Improving resilience to macro-fiscal, environmental, climate change, and social risks to safeguard investments in human capital and household livelihoods.
- Boosting and protecting human capital for productivity growth; Enhancing competitiveness and job creation by improving digital and physical connectivity at the national and regional levels and increasing the efficiency of labor markets.
- Lowering energy costs, reducing the carbon footprint, and optimizing the energy mix.
- Promoting the services economy and boosting the productivity and competitiveness of agriculture and related value chains.
The COVID-19 pandemic risks jeopardizing the socioeconomic gains achieved through improved access to key services. This could generate severe losses for households through shortfalls in labor and non-labor income, domestic price inflation, and disruptions in basic services.
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2023