Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal. The city of Dakar proper has a population of 1,030,594, whereas the population of the Dakar metropolitan area is estimated at 2.45 million.The area around Dakar was settled in the 15th century. The Portuguese established a presence on the island of Gorée off the coast of Cap-Vert and used it as a base for the Atlantic slave trade. France took over the island in 1677. Following the abolition of the slave trade and French annexation of the mainland area in the 19th century, Dakar grew into a major regional port and a major city of the French colonial empire. In 1902, Dakar replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa. From 1959 to 1960, Dakar was the capital of the short-lived Mali Federation. In 1960, it became the capital of the Independent Republic of Senegal.
It is located midway between the mouths of the Gambia and Sénégal rivers on the southeastern side of the Cape Verde Peninsula, close to Africa’s most westerly point. Dakar’s harbour is one of the best in western Africa, protected by the limestone cliffs of the cape and by a system of breakwaters. The city’s name comes from dakhar, a Wolof name for the tamarind tree and the name of a coastal Lebu village that was located south of what is now the first pier.
Data and Facts
- Senegal’s median age is 18.7 years–among the most youthful 25 countries. One reason for that comparatively young average age is the high fertility rate of 4.36 children per Senegalese woman
- In contrast, Senegal has an average lifespan of 61.7 years which is among the bottom 30 countries with the shortest life expectancies
- Dakar has about 2.5 million residents who live within an area measuring 32 square miles (83 square kilometers)
- The area that is now Dakar was first settled around the 15th century. In 1444, Portuguese created a colony there
- The city was the capital of the Mali Federation from 1959 to 1960. It then became the capital of Senegal
- Senegal exported US$2.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016
The city of Dakar is a commune , one of the some 125 communes of Senegal. The commune of Dakar was created by the French colonial administration on June 17, 1887 by detaching it from the commune of Gorée. The commune of Gorée, created in 1872, was itself one of the oldest Western-style municipalities in Africa .
The commune of Dakar has been in continuous existence since 1887, being preserved by the new state of Senegal after independence in 1960, although its limits have varied considerably over time. The limits of the commune of Dakar have been unchanged since 1983. The commune of Dakar is ruled by a democratically elected municipal council serving five years, and a mayor elected by the municipal council. There have been 20 mayors in Dakar since 1887. The commune of Dakar is also a department, one of the 45 departments of Senegal. This situation is quite similar to Paris, which is both a commune and a department. However, contrary to French departments, departments in Senegal have no political power , and are merely local administrative structures of the central state, in charge of carrying out some administrative services as well as controlling the activities of the communes within the department. The department of Dakar is divided into four arrondissements: Almadies, Grand Dakar, Parcelles Assainies , and Plateau/Gorée . These arrondissements are quite different from the arrondissements of Paris, being merely local administrative structures of the central state, like the Senegalese departments, and are thus more comparable to French departmental arrondissements.
In 1996 a massive reform of the administrative and political divisions of Senegal was voted by the Parliament of Senegal. The commune of Dakar, whose population approached 1 million inhabitants, was deemed too large and too populated to be properly managed by a central municipality, and thus on August 30, 1996 Dakar was divided into 19 communes d'arrondissement. The commune of Dakar was maintained above these 19 communes d'arrondissement, and it coordinates the activities of the communes d'arrondissement, much as Greater London coordinates the activities of the London boroughs. The 19 communes d'arrondissement belong to either of the four arrondissements of Dakar, and the souls-préfet of each arrondissement is in charge of controlling the activities of the communes d'arrondissement in his arrondissement. The commune d'arrondissement of Dakar-Plateau , in the arrondissement of Plateau/Gorée, is the historical heart of the city, and most ministries and public administrations are located there. The densest and most populous commune d'arrondissement is Médina , in the arrondissement of Plateau/Gorée. The commune d'arrondissement de Yoff , in the arrondissement of Almadies, is the largest one, while the smallest one is the commune d'arrondissement of Île de Gorée , in the arrondissement of Plateau/Gorée. Dakar is one of the 14 régions of Senegal. The Dakar région encompasses the city of Dakar and all its suburbs along the Cape Verde Peninsula. Its territory is thus roughly the same as the territory of the metropolitan area of Dakar.
Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services. As one of the dominate parts of the economy, the agricultural sector of Senegal is highly vulnerable to environmental conditions, such as variations in rainfall and climate change, and changes in world commodity prices. The former capital of French West Africa, is also home to banks and other institutions which serve all of Francophone West Africa, and is a hub for shipping and transport in the region.
Senegal also has one of the best developed tourist industries in Africa. Senegal depends heavily on foreign assistance. It is a member of the World Trade Organization. The fishing sector has replaced the groundnut sector as Senegal's export leader. Phosphate production, the second major foreign exchange earner, has been steady at about U.S.$95 million. Exports of peanut products reached U.S.$79 million in 2000 and represented 11% of total export earnings. Receipts from tourism, the fourth major foreign exchange earner, have picked up since the January 1994 devaluation. In 2000, some 500,000 tourists visited Senegal, earning the country $120 million.
Senegal’s new Agency for the Promotion of Investment plays a pivotal role in the government’s foreign investment program. Its objective is to increase the investment rate from its current level of 20.6% to 30%. Currently, there are no restrictions on the transfer or repatriation of capital and income earned, or investment financed with convertible foreign exchange. Direct U.S. investment in Senegal remains about U.S.$38 million, mainly in petroleum marketing, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, chemicals, and banking. Canada, Italy, Japan, and Germany also provide assistance. Senegal has well-developed though costly port facilities, a major international airport serving 23 international airlines, and direct and expanding telecommunications links with major world centers.
With an external debt of U.S.$2,495 million, and with its economic reform program on track, Senegal qualified for the multilateral debt relief initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries . Progress on structural reforms is on track, but the pace of reforms remains slow, as delays occur in implementing a number of measures on the privatization program, good governance issues, and the promotion of private sector activity.
Macroeconomic indicators show that Senegal turned in a respectable performance in meeting IMF targets in 2000: annual GDP growth increased to 5.7%, compared to 5.1% in 1999. Inflation was reported to be 0.7% compared to 0.8% in 1999, and the current account deficit was held at less than 6% of GDP.
Senegalese trade unions include The National Confederation of Senegalese Workers and its affiliate the Dakar Dem Dikk Workers Democratic Union , The Democratic Union of Senegalese Workers , The General Confederation Of Democratic Workers Of Senegal and the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal .
Senegal is becoming more and more business friendly. For several years, the country has carried out numerous reforms to improve the business climate, facilitate the work of entrepreneurs and increase its attractiveness to investors.
If we look at the latest Doing Business ranking, Senegal has joined the top five most reforming countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, according to the Africa Investment Index, the country is now one of the 10 most attractive destinations for investors on the continent. Kirene is one of the most beautiful Senegalese success stories of the past 15 years. It produces up to 900 tons of water, juice and milk a day. Eleven million euros have been invested over the past two years in new machines. For the boss of this company, there is no doubt about how the favorable business climate is benefiting the market.
Senegal is a good place to do business. This is the message from APIX - the Agency for Investments and Major Works - which has put in place new rules.Other measures greatly simplify the lives of entrepreneurs and investors, such as lower energy costs, the creation of special economic zones, and tax incentive packages. The brand new Dakar Commercial Court, is a new tool for improving the business climate in Senegal. Now all decisions are made in less than 90 days. And, a conciliation phase is mandatory in all procedures. The court works with consular judges, i.e. non-professional judges from the corporate world.
With its strengths, political and economic stability, strategic position of regional hub, Senegal has great ambitions and promises to continue to deepen reforms and improve its competitiveness.
The town is home to the Autonomous Port of Dakar and the terminus of the non-functioning Dakar-Niger railroad line. The Train Express Regional will connect Dakar with Blaise Diagne International Airport . An initial 36 km will link Dakar to Diamniadio and a second phase of 19 km would connect Dakar to the Blaise Diagne airport. A total of 14 train stations will be served and the fastest end-to-end journey will take 45 minutes. The railway is expected to carry 115 000 passengers per day. The TER's first test run has been launched on 14th of January 2019 and the first passenger train is scheduled to run later this year.
For a developing nation, Senegal has a well organized infrastructure compared to most other African countries. The World Bank estimated that in 1995 there were 507 kilometers of paved road per million people. The CIA World Fact Book 2001 notes that there are 14,576 kilometers of highway, 4,271 kilometers of which are paved. The port in Dakar is one of the few African ports with a floating dry dock, a container terminal, and container service. Despite the wide range of services, port charges are high and service is inefficient. There are also ports and harbors in Kaolack, Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Saint-Louis, and Ziguinchor.
According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide , the airport at Dakar is one of the principal international airports in West Africa, handling a variety of aircraft on its 2 runways. The airport serves more than 24 international airlines, handling 1.5 million passengers per year and moving more than 20,000 metric tons of international airfreight. There are direct flights to Europe and North America, along with frequent flights to several African countries. Secondary airports are located in the regions of Saint-Louis, Tambacounda, and Ziguinchor. Senegal produces 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, all of which is created domestically by fossil fuel. Therefore, the country has no need to import electricity from abroad. To meet the rapidly growing demand for increased capacity, Senelec is actively seeking upgrades to its existing power-generating capabilities.
The telecommunications sector is dominated by Sonatel, another parastatal. In 1996 there were only 11 phone lines per 1000 people, compared to 640 phone lines per 1000 people in the United States. Access to the Internet is severely restricted. In 1996 there were 0.31 Internet hosts per 1000 people, but in the United States there were 442.11 Internet hosts per 1000 people. Sonatel hopes to modernize the telecommunications industry by digitizing its current network and installing a fiber optic network and cellular telephone system. As in the case of the electricity market, France has also invested heavily in telecommunications.
This year, the conference had a big focus on Africa. Technology is revolutionizing Africa; this is perhaps not surprising given that about 60% of the continent’s population is under 25 and that mobile money technology was invented in Africa.
At WorldRemit, we have seen how this new technology has transformed the $600 billion global market in remittances — money transfers made by diaspora groups to friends and family in their country of origin.
A few years ago, recipients of remittances had only one option available to them — collect cash from a bank or a shop, which often meant traveling long distances. This was costly, inconvenient and occasionally unsafe. In the last few years, however, the number of mobile phones in Africa has increased to nearly a billion and today, mobile money accounts in sub-Saharan Africa number 338 million. Some fifty startups from across Africa, including Rwanda, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon and South Africa, were given the opportunity demonstrate the vibrant tech sector developing across the continent. From mobile wallets, to apps that assist expectant mothers or farmers, the focus was not so much on changing consumer habits by providing scalable solutions to daily problems.Tech investment in Africa is picking up. In 2017, the level of investment topped $195 million, a 51% increase on the previous year. This is a fantastic development and a trend that is likely to continue as many investment funds are now looking to invest in businesses that provide not only growth and profitability, but also impact.
As promised in the "Emerging Senegal Plan", Macky Sall, President of Senegal, wants Dakar to become a regional campus of reference. To achieve his vision, the president has launched the construction of a major site, dedicated to research and innovation, as reported by Jeune Afrique.
The new campus will host the University Amadou-Mahtar-Mbow, dedicated to science, which will host 30,000 students, the university Cheikh-Anta-Diop, the university hospital and the traumatology centre.
The second complex, so-called "City of knowledge", is a 14-ha site which will host several structures dedicated to education, research and innovation. It is expected that other higher education institutes of the country set up branches on the site, notably Dakar Business School , Senegal’s top business school, Senegal virtual university and the African institute for mathematic sciences.
As far as research is concerned, the French National Institute for Research will open a branch and the site will host several laboratories in three research domains: biology , applied sciences and physics .
The City of knowledge will also host structures dedicated to the valorisation of research such as an incubator and a scientific park. Some space will be dedicated to the diffusion of scientific knowledge with the creation of a house of science, an astronomy observatory, a planetarium and an aquarium.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
About 42% of Senegal's population is rural. In rural areas, population density varies from about 77 per square kilometer (200/mile²) in the west-central region to 2 per square kilometer (5/mile²) in the arid eastern section. The average population density for the country is 68 people per square kilometer (169/sq mi). French is the official language but is used regularly only by the literate minority. Almost all Senegalese speak an indigenous language, of which Wolof has the largest usage. Many Senegalese live in Europe, particularly in France, Italy and Spain.
In Senegal the traditional culture is very centred around the idea of family. This even includes the way that they eat. When it is time to eat a typical meal someone will say "kay lekk" which means 'come eat'. Everyone will come together and sit around the plate and eat with their hands. Some famous dishes include Cebbu Jën (Tiéboudienne) and Yassa. The etiquette of people in Dakar is very simple but very vital. To not greet someone upon sight is to portray rudeness and oftentimes ignorance. Due to French colonialism the children of Dakar have a unique school system. The school will get a break at about midday and return home to get some rest. Since the population is majority Muslim there are daily activities such as going to the mosque at noon prayer and attending the mosque on Fridays. Music has a big influence on the youth with famous artists like Daara J Family who use their voice to represent the problems in their communities.Dakar is home to multiple national and international festivals, like World Festival of Black Arts, Festival international du film de quartier de Dakar, Dakar Biennale. It was also the location of Taf Taf, an international artist residency program.