Senegal – Gateway to Africa

In the 16th century when the Portuguese visited the country’s coast, the fishermen said “sunu gaal”, which translates into “these are our boats”. The Portuguese, who understood nothing, simply named their land “Senegal”. Fast forward a few centuries, Nelson Mandela in his book “Long Walk to Freedom” stated that the Senegalese are handsome people and that the society showed how disparate elements– French, Islamic, and African– can mingle to create a unique and distinctive culture.” Provided this information we can see this in Senegal’s national flag which bears three colours: red, yellow and green. They are the official Pan-African colours and a star in the middle that represents universal unity.

Senegal has two prominent nicknames: the land of Teranga and the gateway to West Africa. The “Gateway to Africa” tag was earned through the presence of the Senegal River, by which the Portuguese and the French were able to make inroads to Sudan and Central Africa. The government is a multiparty democratic republic and became independent in 1960 after three centuries of French colonial rule. Dakar, the capital lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the most westerly point in Africa. In 1840, the French government declared Senegal a permanent French possession, abolished all forms of slavery, and granted full citizenship to those born in Senegal. More ironically Senegal’s traditional and national sport is wrestling, likely as a coincidence of wrestling France for three centuries.

Senegal has been among Africa’s most stable countries, with three major peaceful political transitions since independence. In a presidential election held on February 24, 2019, the Senegalese people voted in President Macky Sall for a second term. Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the Economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services. Growth has been high, over 6% since 2014, and the forecast remains optimistic, particularly with oil and gas production expected in 2022. Growth accelerated to over 7% in 2017 and is expected to remain over 6% in 2018 and the following years. All sectors supported growth in 2018, but agriculture – due to support programs, robust external demand, and large infrastructure investments in the context of Emerging Senegal Plan implementation remain key drivers. Although the country is 93% Muslim, Senegal’s first president was Catholic (Renowned poet Léopold Sédar Senghor).

On the Neil Economic scale, a can of coke cost 431.11 CFA (R 10,59) and the price of a litre petrol is 593.50 CFA (R 18,74). The inflation rate for consumer prices in Senegal moved over the past 39 years between -4.1% and 32.3%. During the observation period from 1979 to 2018, the average inflation rate was 3.9% per year. For 2018, an inflation rate of 0.5% was calculated. Overall, the price increase was 317.72 %. An item that cost 100 Franc in 1979 was so charged 417.72 Franc at the beginning of 2019.

Despite Senegal having over 20 ethnic groups speaking more than one language, the different groups have coexisted in harmony. Senegal is the only country in West Africa that wasn’t overrun by a military coup and its democratic stability has earned it many allies in Europe and the Americas. The country truly fits the Senegalese proverb “The chameleon changes colour to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon”. Senegal has a reputation for transparency in government operations. The level of economic corruption that has damaged the development of the economies in other African states is very low. Today Senegal has a democratic political culture, being part of one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa.