Senegal Economy Facts

Economical overview

Senegal is a poor country whose population is mainly dependent on agriculture and fishing. At the same time, it has been more developed since the colonial era and has a more robust economy than most countries in West Africa. The infrastructure is fairly well developed and the industry somewhat varied. The country is also a regional financial center.

Peanuts in more or less processed form accounted for most of the export income for many years, which made the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in the world market price. As the fishing industry became more and more important, the economic significance of peanuts gradually diminished. Since the end of the 1980s, fish and fish products have been most important for exports, followed by phosphates and phosphate products. Tourism is also an important source of foreign exchange, as well as money sent home by Senegalese working abroad.

  • Major imports by Senegal, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Despite the advantageous situation in the region, Senegal is classified by the UN as one of the least developed countries in the world, based among other things on low gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant and a relatively unilateral economic base. At the UN agency UNDP’s index of human development in the world, in 2014 Senegal ranked 163 out of 187 countries.

The import note is larger than the export revenue and the dependency on aid is large. Senegal has received major debt relief in the context of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) initiative for particularly indebted poor countries (HIPC) and special debt write-offs agreed by the world’s richest industries in 2005. Lower interest costs and increased assistance have freed up resources for major capital-intensive investments, such as new airport (see Communications).

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including SEN which represents the country of Senegal. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Senegal.

Growth averaged around 5 percent from the mid-1990s into the 2000s. A slowdown occurred in 2006 due to a fall in phosphate production, the same thing happened in connection with the global financial churn in 2009. Then both the flow of tourists and foreign investment and money shipments from Senegalese abroad decreased. Growth averaged 4 percent in the first decade of the 2000s, while it fell marginally to 3.5 percent in the first half of the 2010s.

It is considered a decent growth but it is not enough to alleviate widespread poverty, especially as the population is also growing rapidly. An impediment to the development of, not least, the industry is shortcomings in the energy supply, with constant power cuts as a result (see Natural Resources and Energy). The risk of continued weak economic development in key European markets makes the economic outlook uncertain.

The Sall Government (2012–) has failed to fulfill its election promises on more jobs and lower cost of living, although it has lowered the price of certain basic commodities, such as rice, and also lowered some interest rates. A national strategy for economic and social development was presented in 2012, which among other things meant that the average annual growth should be 7 percent from 2017 and that 350,000 new jobs should be created. In 2013, a financial aid program was launched to reach a quarter of a million poor households by 2017. Another goal was to make basic healthcare accessible to at least 65 percent of the population. A number of development projects in agriculture, infrastructure, transport and tourism were also launched.

Senegal is part of the so-called franc zone, which is a regional currency union. Since the CFA franc was devalued in 1994, inflation has been low.

The dependency on aid has been high since independence in 1960. The official development assistance (ODA) per inhabitant has decreased slightly, from $ 80 in 2011 to $ 70 two years later. The largest individual donors are France and the United States, while the EU and the World Bank are important multilateral donors. Direct investments mainly come from China, India and countries in the Middle East.


GDP per person

US $ 1,522 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 24 130 million (2018)

GDP growth

6.8 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

16.6 percent (2018)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

18.7 percent (2018)

The service sector’s share of GDP

50.4 percent (2018)


1.0 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

61.6 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 8,886 million (2017)


West African Franc

Merchandise exports

US $ 3,278 million (2017)


US $ 5,973 million (2017)

Current account

– US $ 1,522 million (2017)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

47 percent (2018)

Main export goods

fish, peanuts, phosphate, chemicals

Largest trading partner

Mali, India, France, Italy, Nigeria, Germany



Struggles between government forces and the separatist movement MFDC

In the southern Casamance region, fighting between government forces and the separatist movement MFDC is escalating, with several casualties as a result (for background see Modern History and the Conflict in Casamance).

New Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, who has held the post since Wade took office in 2000, is replaced. The Minister is reported to have difficulty for President Zone Karim Wade and to disagree with the President about his controversial support for the military junta that recently took power in Guinea (see Guinea, Modern History).


Protests against the government

Demonstrations erupt in protest of the government’s slow response to the severe flooding affecting Dakar’s poor district. The protests also target the recurring electricity outages.

Criticism against the President

President Wade announces his intention to stand for re-election in 2012. The announcement receives criticism as Senegal’s president may only be re-elected once under the Constitution (Wade had won the 2000 and 2007 presidential elections). However, Wade’s party PDS emphasizes that the rule did not exist when Wade became president for the first time and that he can thus run for another term (see Political system and Modern history).


The Prime Minister resigns

Prime Minister Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré resigns for “personal reasons” and is succeeded by PDS veteran Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye. In his new government, President Son Karim Wade gets a ministerial post. He is given responsibility for a kind of super department, which includes international cooperation and communications, among other things. Critics believe the president is working for his son to succeed him in connection with the February 2012 presidential election.


Local and regional elections

Local and regional elections are held. The opposition is gathered in the alliance Benno Siggil Senegaal and is doing well. It takes home the victory in the capital Dakar (formerly a stronghold of President Abdoulaye Wade) and several other major cities. President Wade’s son Karim Wade is elected to the Dakar Municipal Council on behalf of the ruling alliance Sopis. Sopi is dominated by President Wade’s Senegal Democratic Party (PDS).

Senegal Economy Facts

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