Studii economice Coface
Senegal

Senegal

Population 15.9 million
GDP 1,331 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2016 2017 2018 2019 (f)
GDP growth (%) 6.2 7.2 6.2 6.9
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.8 1.3 0.5 1.3
Budget balance (% GDP) -3.3 -3.0 -3.5 -3.0
Current account balance (% GDP) -4.0 -7.3 -7.2 -7.3
Public debt (% GDP) 47.7 60.6 64.4 62

(e): Estimate. (f): Forecast.

STRENGTHS

  • Strong economic momentum linked to implementation of major investment projects
  • Donor support under the Emerging Senegal Plan
  • Progress on business climate and governance
  • Strong track record of political stability
  • Significant oil and natural gas reserves off the Senegalese coast

WEAKNESSES

  • Growth and exports at the mercy of weather events and commodity price developments
  • Inadequate energy and transport infrastructure
  • Significant external deficit
  • Low per capita wealth, unemployment and regional disparities

RISK ASSESSMENT

Domestic demand continues to support vibrant growth

Growth is set to maintain its favourable momentum in 2019, mainly driven by investment. Implementation of the Emerging Senegal Plan (Plan Sénégal Emergent,PSE), which is set to enter its second phase, will continue to support the public components of investment and consumption. The investment opportunities offered by the PSE and reforms to improve the business environment should also create a spillover effect to stimulate private investment. This should benefit the construction, transport, agri-food, and energy sectors especially, given the prospects for exploiting hydrocarbon reserves off the coast (from 2021 for gas and 2022 for oil). The new city of Diamniadio and the Taiba Ndiaye wind farm project (which is forecast to boost the country's electricity production by 15% in the long term), will be on the agenda in 2019. Increased output in the farming (rice, groundnut, horticulture) and fisheries segments, thanks to efforts to modernise these industries, should also help to support growth. Household consumption – more than 50% of which depends on the income of the agricultural sector – should thus continue to drive growth. Domestic dynamics and tourism growth will contribute to increased trade activities, while ICT, transport, and financial intermediation are expected to provide additional support to the tertiary sector.

 

Persistent twin deficits

Wage increases to meet strikers' demands in the public sector, rising oil prices, and increased security spending have put more pressure on public spending and widened the budget deficit. However, this will need to be reduced in 2019 to meet the WAEMU convergence criterion of 3% of GDP. In particular, continued efforts to overhaul the tax and customs administrations, including amendments to the General Tax Code in 2018, should help to improve the mobilisation of tax revenue, which stands at around 16% of GDP, i.e. below the 20% target set by WAEMU. To cut the deficit, the authorities also intend to control recurrent expenditure more effectively in order to favour social and investment expenditure. As part of the IMF-backed Policy Support Instrument programme, measures have been taken to improve the efficiency of public spending, including the creation of a project bank.

 

The current account deficit is expected to remain large in 2019. While a export volumes (agriculture and fisheries) are set to continue increasing, imports of capital goods and a corollary of the investment dynamics, will continue to weigh on the trade balance. The balance of services, despite the effects of increased tourism, will remain negative, even though the income balance is positively impacted by remittances from expatriates. Despite an upturn in FDI, external debt, notably through the issuance of eurobonds, remains necessary to finance the current deficit. External debt represents about 90% of total public debt, which has been on a rapid upward trajectory since the beginning of the decade. However, after the upward revisions to GDP figures, this looks sustainable.

 

A second round for President Sall

The February 2019 presidential election, considered "calm and transparent" by most foreign observers, saw a first round victory for the incumbent Macky Sall (with 58.3% of the vote), earning him a second five-year term as expected. Despite calls for a boycott by former President Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), the turnout was 66.23%, 15% higher than in 2012. The opponents rejected these results in a joint statement, accusing their rival of having "confiscated the will of the sovereign people". This election –  in the absence of Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall, the most serious opponents, because of their judicial setbacks – has fundamentally restructured the country's political scene, with the rise of new opposition actors such as Idrissa Seck and Ousmane Sonko. The local elections in December 2019 should confirm this trend, pending the parliamentary elections in 2022, which will be a challenge for the government because of the risk of cohabitation.

 

Very soon after the election, President Sall abolished the post of Prime Minister to "fluidify the functioning of the state", strengthening the presidential character of the regime. The opposition denounced a "power grab and an authoritarian drift of the president" accompanied by a "failure to respect the moral contract" between the president and his compatriots, because he had not announced this reform in his programme. Corruption in circles close to the government and arbitrary arrests also signal a rise in tensions.

Insecurity in the Sahel region and the Casamance region, leading to additional budgetary expenditure, will remain a concern.

 

Last update: August 2019

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