Senegal Economics and Business

Senegal is a West African nation that borders the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of around 16 million people and is one of the most stable democracies in Africa. The country has a diverse economy that includes agriculture, mining, industry and services. It is one of the world’s poorest countries but also has one of the fastest growing economies in West Africa.

According to cheeroutdoor, agriculture is an important part of Senegal’s economy, accounting for around 20% of GDP and employing nearly half of the country’s workforce. The main crops grown are millet, rice, sorghum, groundnuts and other vegetables. Fishing is also an important industry with many fishermen using traditional methods to catch fish such as sardines, mackerel and tuna from the Atlantic Ocean.

Mining is another major sector in Senegal with gold being mined at several sites including Sabodala Gold Project which is operated by Teranga Gold Corporation. Other minerals mined in the country include iron ore, bauxite and phosphates. There are plans to develop oil fields off-shore but these have yet to be exploited due to environmental concerns.

The manufacturing sector contributes around 11% of GDP with food processing being one of the most important industries while textiles, leather goods and chemicals are also produced in small quantities. Senegal also exports some manufactured goods such as electronics, furniture and clothing to other African countries as well as Europe and North America.

The service sector accounts for over 60% of GDP with tourism being an increasingly important industry due to its beautiful beaches along its coastline as well as its vibrant cultural heritage which includes music festivals like Dakar Jazz Festival or St Louis Jazz Festival. Banking is also an integral part of Senegal’s financial system with many international banks having branches there such as Citibank or HSBC Bank plc.

Senegal has made some progress towards economic diversification since gaining independence from France in 1960 although progress has been slow due to political instability and poor infrastructure which makes it difficult for businesses to operate effectively within the country. Government initiatives such as Vision 2020 aim to diversify the economy further by promoting investment into new sectors such as tourism while providing incentives for businesses that create jobs or export products abroad thus boosting foreign exchange earnings for Senegal.


Thanks to its leading position in French West Africa, Senegal had a favorable economic situation in relation to its neighbors, with its well-developed industrial sector, in relation to its neighbors. After independence, the country’s economic situation has deteriorated; Among other things, the industry is experiencing increasingly fierce competition from Senegal’s West African neighbors, and the country has for a long time experienced high inflation and high unemployment and suffered from recurring dry periods. Despite this, the country has one of the region’s highest GDP. Annual economic growth during the 00s was on average 4 percent. Agriculture, mainly peanut farming, and fishing form the basis of the economy.

Senegal GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

Abbreviated as SEN by, Senegal is heavily dependent on foreign (especially French) aid. In recent years, tourism has become an important source of foreign exchange income.

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture, forestry and fishing account for about 75 percent of employment. However, due to changing weather conditions, the economic importance of agriculture varies between years. Peanuts are by far the most important crop and are grown on about 40 percent of the cultivated area. Other important crops are millet and corn. The Government strives to diversify the production of both sales and consumption crops. The main aim is to increase the cultivation of cotton, rice, sugar and garden crops. Livestock management is mainly conducted by nomads in the northern parts of the country.

Fisheries and fish processing have grown in importance and fish is now the country’s most important export commodity. Small-scale coastal fishing dominates and still accounts for most of the catches. Another important source of income is the sale of fishing licenses to EU countries. Due to, among other things, poaching, the waters are threatened to be fished.

Natural Resources

The country’s mining industry accounts for a small proportion of GDP. The industry is dominated by phosphate mining, mainly around Thiès. Deposits have been made of iron ore and gold in the country’s eastern and southeastern parts. Oil has been found off the coast at Casamance in southwest Senegal. The country’s electricity generation is mainly based on oil. However, there are plans to expand hydropower. However, wood burning still covers most of the energy demand.


The industrial sector is, second only to the Ivory Coast, the most developed in French-speaking West Africa. The industry, which is primarily based on the processing of agricultural and fishery products (peanut oil, textiles and canned fish), is concentrated to the capital Dakar and to the city of Thiès.

Foreign trade

Senegal has a permanent deficit in the trade balance, and dependence on foreign aid is significant. The most important export products are fish preserves and peanuts, mainly in the form of peanut oil. Imports are mainly food, capital goods and fuels. Important trading partners are France, India and China. About 20 percent of exports go to neighboring Mali.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Senegal, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.

Tourism and gastronomy

Senegal is West Africa’s largest tourist country; tourism contributes its approximately 1 million annual visitors with just over 20 percent of export revenue. Dakar and the Cape Verde region exert attraction through their French-African cultural meeting. In Dakar there is another well-stocked museum with masks, wooden figures and tissues from the entire region. Several large markets, e.g. The Sandagama market in the turn of the century, offers a colorful spectacle and the opportunity to acquire Senegal’s and neighboring artisans. On the car- and bicycle-free holiday island of Gorée just southeast of Dakar, the anxiety of the days as the center of the slave trade has been replaced by the tranquility and relaxation of the small town’s 18th-century houses and nice restaurants. Here you can also swim in crystal clear water, which also applies to the fine sandy beaches along the coast southeast of Dakar.

Note: the capital city of Senegal is Dakar with a population of 3 million (including suburbs, estimate 2018). Other major cities include Touba, Guediawaye, Thiès, Kaolack, Mbour, Saint-Louis.

Saint-Louis at the far northwest, Senegal’s old capital, has its 19th-century town plan and buildings, a little neglected but full of charm.

Senegal’s bird sanctuaries are among the best in the world, such as the Djoudj National Park’s lush wetlands along the Senegal River and the Saloum delta area. Under favorable conditions, you can see the hippopotamus, crocodile, various kinds of monkeys and rare birds in the large Niokolo Koba National Park in the southeast.

Casamance in the south has long been shielded from the rest of the country. It therefore offers much unspoilt nature and dazzling sandy beaches, but also a periodic violent separatist movement that disturbs tourism. The classic experiences in Senegal include the train journey from Dakar via Kayes to Bamako in Mali and the boat trip Dakar – Ziguinchor in Casamance.

The main crops millet and maize are basic ingredients in many Senegalese dishes, among other things, they are included in the obligatory porridge served every day. Millet is also used in couscous dishes (bassi salts) with vegetables or lamb and goat meat. Monkeys are eaten, they can be the main ingredient in yassa, which consists of lime marinated meat and onions, or enjoyed as kebabs. The fish accounts for a very large part of the animal protein intake; tié boudiéné are pieces of fish (cod, hake, sea bass, bream) that are seasoned with chili, garlic and lemon and served with vegetables and rice. Soups are, as always, common in Africa; caidou is fish soup with rice. In addition to chili, garlic and lime, peanuts are the most common flavoring.

Senegal Economics and Business

About the author