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Senegal

Senegal

Population 15.9 million
GDP 1,331 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2016 2017 2018 (e) 2019 (f)
GDP growth (%) 6.2 7.2 7.0 6.8
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.8 1.3 0.5 1.7
Budget balance (% GDP) -3.3 -3.0 -3.5 -3.0
Current account balance (% GDP) -4.0 -7.3 -8.0 -7.4
Public debt (% GDP) 47.8 48.3 49.4 47.7

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

STRENGTHS

  • Strong economic momentum linked to implementation of major investment projects
  • Donor support under the Emerging Senegal Plan
  • Headway 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

In 2019, growth will maintain its favourable momentum, mainly driven by investment. Implementation of the Emerging Senegal Plan (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. Gross capital formation is expected to benefit the construction, transport, agri-food and energy sectors especially, given the prospects for exploiting hydrocarbon reserves off the Senegalese 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 sectors, 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 caused the budget deficit to widen. Even so, the latter will likely come down 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 agricultural and fisheries export volumes are set to continue increasing, imports of capital goods, 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, while the primary income account will remain burdened by investment income. Remittances, including from expatriates, will make the largest positive contribution to the overall balance. Despite an upturn in FDI, external debt, notably through the issuance of eurobonds, remains necessary to finance the current deficit. External debt represents about 75% of total public debt, which has been on a rapid upward trajectory since the beginning of the decade. However, after revisions to GDP figures, this looks sustainable. Debt restructuring should also lead to a reduction in debt service.

 

Political stability at the heart of the 2019 presidential elections

Elected in 2012, President Macky Sall will stand for re-election in the presidential elections scheduled for the 24th February 2019. The sweeping victory won by his Benno Bokk Yakaar (United in Hope) coalition in the 2017 parliamentary elections, when it took 125 seats out of 165, suggests that Mr Sall will run as favourite, and all the more so following court decisions barring two major opposition figures from contesting the elections. Khalifa Sall, former mayor of Dakar, was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison for embezzling public funds, while Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), was given a six-year prison term in 2015 for corruption, but was then released by presidential pardon the following year. By feeding the perception that the government is trying to side-line the most serious opposition candidates, these decisions are fuelling a tense social climate. Strikes and demonstrations by teachers and students also signal renewed social tensions.

Insecurity in the Sahel and Casamance regions, which has led to additional budgetary expenditure, is expected to remain a concern.

 

Last update: February 2019

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