There has been an exponential increase of the virus from Asia to Europe, which eventually spread to the African continent within months. As a result, it affects Senegal the same way as other countries that have been dealing with it, socially and economically. Senegal registered its first cases from March 2nd. Today, the country is counting 7,657 cases, with 5,092 recovered and 141 deaths. This article will analyse the extent to which COVID-19 affected the Senegalese citizens in terms of their economic and social life.

As an overview, the Republic of Senegal has a population of around 16 million habitants out of which about 42 per cent live in rural areas. The economy of the country is mainly focused on mineral exploitation, construction, tourism, fishing and agriculture. The GDP represents $24 billion and the GDP per capita is $1,428. Moreover, the country imports more than it exports.

The actual president, Mr. Macky Sall, has put in place different measures to stop the propagation of the virus. These include a closure of the Senegalese borders, schools, the places of worship and putting in place a distribution plan of bread during the month of Ramadan to reduce the concentration of buyers at the shops, as well as a partial closure of the markets. Furthermore, masks became mandatory in all areas and a curfew has been implanted. Additionally, the President spent more than 18 billion CFA to import rice to fight against the evolution of COVID-19.

With regards to the economy, over the past five years, the expansion of the economy has mainly been done through private investment; particularly in the oil, energy, transport, infrastructure, tourism, textiles and technology sectors. There are two types of investment; those that are positive, therefore creating more revenue; and the negative investments, that increase the amount of debt. For example, the construction of the “Autoroute à pèage”, which has generated a higher debt, that the country has to pay to the World Bank and the AFD. For instance, the national debt of Senegal represented around 13.56 billion U.S which also represents 61.55% of Senegal´s GDP. In other words, the impact of government debt may and will possibly stunt the growth of the country. Furthermore, the majority of Senegalese mainly work on a day to day basis which means they survive by means of their daily income. Considering this information, the question is: what is the repercussion of the virus on the territory? This analysis can be transposed to many African cases.

The presence of COVID-19 on the Senegalese territory will have a negative repercussion on the economy. Firstly, based on three main factors which are the private investment/foreign investment, tourism and importation. For instance, the virus is touching every single part of the globe, in consequence, international investment will decrease by 2 or 3 times. For example, instead of receiving direct investment that is equal to $847 million (mainly from Europe and China), the country (Senegal) may receive $282 millions of dollars. Secondly, the economy of Senegal remains highly dependent on European growth. For instance, the European economy is expected to shrink by 7.4 per cent in 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19. In France, it should decrease by 8.2% (Statista). In other words, Senegal will receive less investment which also means small growth in the economic cycle.

Thirdly, the tourism sector (which represents 10% of the GDP and 9% of the total employment in the country) will also be affected. For instance, a tourist that comes to Senegal spends on average 400 Euro, the sector earns 300 billion CFA Franc (local currency).  For example, in 2018, 1.7 million foreign tourists arrived in Senegal, by multiplying this number by the average money they spend, it can be estimated that Senegal has a direct revenue of 680 million euro/year.

Finally, importation represents a big factor. For instance, Senegalese merchants import a lot of products that they resale in the country based on consumer behaviour and profile. Senegalese consumers have a big preference for American and French products. As a result, it creates a real market. For example, Senegalese have a habit to import products such as sugar and rice which are basic ingredients, clotheslines, beauty and skincare products. It means that COVID-19 will directly affect the supplier’s chains, resulting in a decrease in sales revenues. For instance, the US exports of goods dropped by the most in 11 years with the pandemic. It means a stagnation or loss for Senegalese businesses.

           On the social side, the virus also has some repercussions. For instance, the country has never had to deal with a virus that generated a new way of life, like quarantine going against the ideology of “Teranga”. Teranga represents hospitality, the ways we treat guests as well as neighbours. Culturally, there is a strong bond that has held the community together, regardless of the circumstances. The virus came and broke these behaviours. Moreover, the virus also creates fear. For example, when cases were identified in a specific area, the population started to separate themselves with the patients. Furthermore, the population didn’t assimilate the idea of “recovery” and continued to fear recovered people. To conclude, the pandemic created a new challenge for the government, both socially and economically, and disturbs the notion of Teranga within the country.    


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