Economy & Industry

Factories in Senegal

Senegal has an established industrial sector producing a range of goods from handmade crafts, textiles and shoes, to trucks and cement.

On the streets of SenegalHowever, many of the country’s factories are involved with the processing and refining of agricultural products. Agriculture still employs around three-quarters of people in Senegal.

One of the most important food products is groundnut/peanut oil, which was Senegal's top agricultural-based export in 2010 (according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation).

Pre-prepared food products (including sauces, soups and condiments) and tobacco products such as cigarettes are also key exports, as are rice and cotton lint.

Fish are also an important source of revenue for Senegal. However, stocks are under increasing pressure due to over-fishing.

Modern sectors

Travellers cut back

The tourism industry is particularly affected during global economic downturns as foreigners cut back on luxury holidays.

Economic reform and privatisation programs (along with significant debt relief), saw Senegal achieving an average growth of 5% annually. But as the global recession hit, growth dropped in 2008 and 2009. However in 2010, the economy grew over 4%, boosted in part by large public infrastructure projects, such as the construction of new roads in Dakar.

Senegal’s tourism and communications sectors have brought new investment. And with unrest in Ivory Coast, many French-speaking international organisations and banks have moved to Senegal. Along with investment from Arab countries, the arrival of new firms has led to a construction boom which helped buoy the economy through the global recession.

Vital investment in key areas

However, Senegal is facing an energy crisis as demand for electricity rises. Power cuts lasting many hours are common and shortages are hindering economic progress. Following protests on the streets, the government has promised to increase capacity.

Mining a key growth sector

Private investment in the mining sector since the start of this millennium is set to reach five billion dollars by 2013.

The mining sector is looking to private investment in order to expand. Senegal is already one of the leading suppliers of phosphate rock, but has large enough deposits to become one of the top ten producers worldwide.

The country also has a variety of other mineral resources, including precious metals (e.g. gold and platinum), base metals (e.g. iron, copper and chromium), industrial minerals (e.g. limestone and salts), heavy minerals (e.g. zircon and titanium) and building materials (e.g. marble).