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base map of Senegal

Senegal, a country of West Africa that came from the merger of French colonies, is one of the most stable and important countries in Africa. Even before independence, Senegalese troops in the armies of the French Union were highly respected. It now is a participant in regional development and stability.

The 2010 Failed State Index puts it 103rd from the bottom, slightly better than Vietnam and Mexico, and not in the worst category. In the Index system, the greatest problem was seen as group grievances.[1]


Second World War

The capital, Dakar, was an important regional seaport, and the site of conferences.


The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982, which also was short-lived and ineffectual. [2]

Current government

"Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until current President Abdoulaye Wade was elected in 2000. He was reelected in February 2007 and has amended Senegal's constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition, part of the President's increasingly autocratic governing style."[2] Senegal, however, has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation.

Peace operations

Senegalese personnel have a long history in peace operations, for complex reasons that involve ideology and economics. Peacekeeping troops are highly compensated by African standards. [3] They are present, for example, in the Darfur Conflict.

Regional security

In cooperation with 15 countries and the United States Africa Command, Senegalese personnel, operating from Mali, conducted security Exercise Flintlock, which was the first operational deployment of the U.S. V-22 Osprey aircraft, which may be especially appropriate for African distances. Air Force Special Operations Command received the Osprey in 2006, and first deployed to Mali, which borders Senegal.[4] The Ospreys carried Malian and Senegalese special operations soldiers and their command team. Lt. Col. Eric Hill, leading the 8th Special Operations Squadron (SOS), observed "The tyranny of distance in the African continent is amazing. We were able to go over 500 nautical miles, infiltrate a small team for them to run their exercise, and bring them back all the way to home base without doing an air refueling stop. And we were able to do that in the span of about four hours. "


"In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the French franc, and now to the euro. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2008. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy.[2]

Firms from Dubai have agreed to manage and modernize Dakar's maritime port and create a new special economic zone. Senegal still relies heavily upon outside donor assistance. Under the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief program, Senegal has benefited from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector debt. In 2007, Senegal and the IMF agreed to a new, non-disbursing, Policy Support Initiative program. [2]

"As of August 2009, the World Bank had approved 122 projects for Senegal totaling about US$3.0 billion. The commitment value of 20 ongoing International Development Association (IDA)-financed operations is about US$700 million equivalent, with an undisbursed balance of about US$460 million. The 20 operations are in agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, environment, transportation, population/health/nutrition, social protection, energy/water, public and private sector development, and natural disaster management. Portfolio performance is discussed quarterly with the government/[5]

"In September 2009, Senegal signed a Compact with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation, which will provide $540 million in infrastructure development, primarily in road construction along Senegal's northern and southern borders in conjunction with adjacent irrigation and agriculture projects."[2]


High unemployment, however, continues to prompt illegal migrants to flee Senegal in search of better job opportunities in Europe. Senegal was also beset by an energy crisis that caused widespread blackouts in 2006 and 2007. The phosphate industry has struggled for two years to secure capital. Reduced output has directly impacted GDP.


In 2007, Senegal signed agreements for major new mining concessions for iron, zircon, and gold with foreign companies.


  1. 2010 Failed State Index, Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy (magazine)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Senegal", World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency
  3. Roy A. Dietzman (3 September 2003), (Master's Thesis) Forty-Two Years of Peacekeeping: A Review of Senegalese Participation in Peacekeeping Missions, Air Force Institute of Technology (also reprinted on Amazon), ADA416907
  4. Lauren Johnson (3 December 2008), CV-22s complete first operational deployment, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
  5. World Bank Portfolio in Senegal, World Bank, 2009