Since the early 1980’s, Senegal, like most African countries, has been subject to a series of policies from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
For almost 25 years, economic and social policies in Senegal have either been heavily influenced, or set by these institutions.
The purpose of their intervention was to solve Senegalese debt crisis and put thecountry on the road to sustainable economic growth, as stated in the Berg Report. (World Bank. (1981). Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action (Berg Report). Washington DC)
But this intervention did not solve the debt crisis, and did not mean a significant economic growth or a reduction of poverty either.
In fact, in the last 17 years of IMF and World Bank policies inSenegal have failed resulting in huge economic, social and human costs. The debt crisis has even worsened and this has made Senegal even poorer.
Situated in West Africa, Senegal became independent from France in 1960. Its population, of around 10 million is composed of six major ethnic groups:
• The Wolof: these live in the principal cities, they conform around 40% of its population.• The Hal- Pularen, who make up the 25% of the population. They live in the north of the country, at the border and Mauritania in the centre.
• The Serer: which compose 15%.
• The Soninke, Diola and Mandigue form the other 20% of the population.
• The Wolof and the Serer live in the Groundnut Basin, an area of land responsible for producing on of Senegal’s major exports.Around more than 70% of the population of Senegal live in rural areas, and live from the income associated to the primary sector, which is mainly the agricultural. The Senegalese population is mostly young, with 60% under the age of 20 and 47% under the age of 15.
Women form 52 per cent of the population.
The principal religion is Islam (85%), followed by Christianity (13%), and other religions(2%).
The official language is French, which is spoken along with six national languages, one per each ethnic group mentioned before.
Senegal is member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS). Created to promote economic integration in the West African sub-region. The WAEMU is composed of 8 countries, all formerFrench colonies except for Guinea-Bissau. They all have the same currency, the CFA franc. The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO, according to its French acronym) is the common bank, and is located in Dakar, Senegal.
ECOWAS includes all the other West African countries, except for Mauritania. It is expected that in the next years, WAEMU will merge ECOWAS to form a single West African economiccommunity.
Senegal has an agricultural based economy. Its main products are groundnuts, cotton, fish and livestock. The primary sector is dominated by agriculture, whose contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) averaged 19% between 1960 and the mid 1980’s.
Like most developing countries, Senegal’s main exports are composed of primary products. But with the sharp fluctuations incommodity prices, in the early 1970’s, combined with droughts, led to a deterioration of its terms of trade. This made Senegal turn to the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) for help. (The Implications of the Cotonou Agreement for the Integration Process in ECOWAS Countries. Dakar)
2.0 20 years of IMF and World Bank policy influence
The first World Bank loan was made to Senegal in1967. Since then the bank has approved 124 loans and credits for an amount of U$S2.42 billion. These has been used to finance agriculture projects, industry, education, health, institutional development and infrastructure building.
According to the Bank, in the area of investment loans, Senegal has one of the lowest disbursement rates (proportion of loans used by the government) in sub-Saharan...