Economic studies
Senegal

Senegal

Population 14.9 million
GDP 913 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016 (f) 2017 (f)
GDP growth (%) 4.3 6.5 6.6 6.8
Inflation (yearly average) (%) -1.1 0.1 1.0 1.8
Budget balance (% GDP) -5.0 -4.8 -4.2 -3.7
Current account balance (% GDP) -8.9 -7.6 -8.4 -8.2
Public debt (% GDP) 54.2 56.8 57.3 56.2

 

(e) Estimate (f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Economic momentum linked to the implementation of major investment projects
  • Support from financial backers under the Plan Sénégal Emergent
  • Progress on business climate and governance
  • Solid track record on political stability

WEAKNESSES

  • Growth and exports subject to weather conditions and movements in commodity prices
  • Inadequate infrastructure (energy, transport)
  • Substantial twin deficits
  • Low per capital wealth, unemployment and regional disparities
  • Head of State losing popularity

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth outlook remains favourable

Economic activity, which accelerated in 2015, thanks to the start of projects under the Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE - Emerging Senegal Plan) and good performance in the agricultural sector, continues at a satisfactory pace. The improved business climate, likely to encourage private investment, ongoing major State projects and the support given to the strategic sectors (agriculture, agro-industry, energy, mining extraction, tourism) continues to sustain economic activity. The government is committed to promoting private investment in competitive activities and reducing public consumption so as to give itself room for manoeuvre on public investment, the effectiveness, meanwhile, needs to be increased. In the longer term, the country, which already exports refined petroleum products, is expected to benefit from the discovery of significant crude oil reserves off its coast, which together with the recent inauguration of a large solar plant will help improve energy supplies and reduce energy dependency.

Inflation remains under control, even though it was higher in 2016 because of rising rents and increasing domestic demand. Inflationary pressures are expected to increase slightly in 2017 in response to the modest rise in world commodity prices.

 

Fiscal consolidation efforts are continuing, while there is still a large external account deficit

The fiscal deficit is on a steady downward trend in line with the commitments by the authorities under a programme supported by the IMF. The deficit target for 2015 was reached and the initial target for 2016 has been maintained, as the government provided for an improvement in tax collection, the removal of energy subsidies, new measures to rationalise spending on public consumption. The public debt has grown strongly in recent years, specifically through the issue of euro-denominated bonds, but is still on a sustainable trajectory. Moreover, Senegal benefits from among the lowest sovereign interest rates in Subsaharan Africa.

There is still a very large current account deficit because of the substantial need for imports of capital equipment for carrying out infrastructure and investment projects (which despite everything are a positive sign of long-term structural change) and heavy energy dependence. This deficit declined only slightly in 2015 due to the marked fall in oil prices and the rise in export volumes. In 2016, the drop in the price of imported oil was less patent, imports of equipment continued to grow and weak prices for commodity exports, which include agricultural products and gold, limited a rise in sales abroad. The energy bill is expected to edge up again in 2017 but, at the same time, exports are expected to increase thanks to a rise in agricultural and gold output and the modest recovery of world prices. It is worth noting too, the diversification efforts undertaken thanks to the development of exports of cement and phosphate derivatives and to the considerable contribution in terms of foreign exchange income, provided by expatriate workers' remittances and, to a lesser extent, tourism. The current account deficit is funded to a large extent by grants and loans to the public sector (plus, in some years, euro-denominated bond issues). Flows of foreign direct investments remain weak compared to the average for other developing countries.

 

A secure democracy but a somewhat tarnished government image

Senegal remains a model of stability and democracy in the region. The country went through its second political changeover since the 2012 presidential elections, won by Macky Sall. However, the presidential party emerged weaker from the 2014 local elections. The lack of social progress, the abandonment of some election promises (reduction of current term to five years) and disaffection within the coalition has somewhat tarnished the Head of State's image. Against this backdrop, the opposition is trying to organise itself in preparation for the mid-2017 parliamentary elections.

Furthermore, despite the resumption of talks, there is still no final resolution of the Casamance conflict with the separatist movement and relations with Gambia remain tense. Finally, instability in the Sahel region reinforces the terrorist threat in Senegal.

On governance, even if there is still a significant risk, especially regarding the effectiveness of public bodies, the country is favourably positioned compared to most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Last update: January 2017

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