Tag Archives: Senegal

Public Private Dialogue: How Business Promotes Economic Development and Democratic Governance


The private sector is a key actor in efforts to promote economic growth, reform the business climate and strengthen democratic policymaking worldwide. Dialogue is a key part of the Busan process, which recognizes that the for-profit private sector is a central driver of development and emphasizes the importance of inclusive dialogue for building a policy environment conducive to sustainable development.” Businesses possess the know-how of economic conditions, obstacles and opportunities for growth, while governments have the means to pass business-friendly legislation.

From a democratic point of view, a vibrant private contribution to dialogue expands participation in policymaking by creating space for civic engagement in governance, improves the quality of business representation and supplements the performance of democratic institutions.

Building upon its longstanding experience in the field, CIPE has been invited to participate in the 7th Annual Public Private Dialogue Global Workshop organized by the World Bank, BMZ-The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and GIZ in Frankfurt, Germany.

Senior Knowledge Manager Kim Bettcher will moderate a session on long term public private dialogue sustainability and the role of chambers of commerce and business associations. Director of Multiregional Programs Anna Nadgrodkiewicz will make a presentation on a new initiative between the CIPE, the World Bank Institute, and development partners on building an open and collaborative platform for public private dialogue resources.

CIPE has extensive experience in advancing policy dialogue around the world and supports market-oriented reform and private sector development by mobilizing representative business associations and strengthening their capacity to advocate for policy solutions. CIPE also invests in business association development that enables effective dialogue. Some regional success stories in public private dialogue are outlined in more detail below.

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CIPE In Francophone Africa: The Lost Chapters

Participants in CIPE's 2010 program in Cote d'Ivoire. (Photo: CIPE staff)

Participants in CIPE’s 2010 program in Cote d’Ivoire. (Photo: CIPE staff)

Part of my mandate as Program Officer for West and Central Africa is to establish a sustainable CIPE presence in Francophone Africa, a group of countries where CIPE appears to have a light footprint. So, it was with a solid sense of purpose that I embarked on my most recent CIPE mission to Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, only to realize that my CIPE predecessors had already done fantastic work, which accounts for CIPE’s popularity within civil society circles in many Francophone countries.

You can imagine Neil Armstrong and his crew, possessed by that light mix of excitement and apprehension in their underbelly as they headed for the moon, anticipating being the first humans to acquaint themselves with it, only to get there and be welcomed by a bunch of encamped Russians: “Ah, Americans … you finally made it.” — I would be untruthful not to admit that a part of me felt outflanked by my CIPE predecessors.

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Achieving Impact in Senegal


My recent visit to Dakar, Senegal, where I met with longtime CIPE partner, l’Union National des Commercants et Industriels du Senegal (UNACOIS) was very informative and revealed how much impact a good CIPE partnership can bring to bear.

The decade-long partnership between CIPE and UNACOIS – a Senegalese private sector association with 70,000 members who operate small and medium enterprises, mainly in the informal sector — is proving increasingly consequential within Senegal’s civil society circles. CIPE and UNACOIS have partnered on three programs whose core objective was to enhance UNACOIS’ internal governance capacity.

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Business Associations Supporting Democracy in Senegal

A public-private dialogue session with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

A public-private dialogue session with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

A critical aspect to fulfilling CIPE’s vision is partnership with local organizations, who are not only capable of effectively advocating for policy reforms, but also possess the requisite commitment to democracy and economic development. In Senegal, CIPE is helping to support the country’s democratic consolidation through a multi-year partnership with the Union Nationale des Commercants et Industriels du Senegal (UNACOIS), now Senegal’s largest business association.

Such partnerships endure the inevitable setbacks of advocacy initiatives, delivering marginal progress in the short-term, while ultimately effecting long-term systemic changes. Such partnerships are particularly difficult to foster in the West Africa sub-region of Sub-Sahara Africa, where persistent armed conflicts – along with unfavorable social, economic, religious, and political dynamics – have conspired to imbue most people with significant cynicism towards democratic ideals.

CIPE partnered with UNACOIS on three projects between 2002 and 2008 to help the organization improve its member relations and internal governance.  This assistance reinforced UNACOIS’ national scope and grassroots reach, thereby contributing to its development into Senegal’s largest business association, with 80,000 members — nearly 70 percent of whom operate in the informal sector.

After consolidating its organizational governance, UNACOIS recently partnered with CIPE on a project whose objective is to empower and support the SME sector to engage in effective public-private dialogue. With its enhanced institutional capacity and its commitment to the CIPE mission, UNACOIS was able to deliver meaningful impact long before the end of the project. The final project activity was a public-private dialogue between UNACOIS, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and the Informal Sector, and other relevant stakeholders from public and private sectors.

The event took place on January 30th, 2013 at the Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. El Hadj Malik Gakou, the Minister of Commerce, Industry, and the Informal Sector, presided over the event, which had 93 attendees. The attendees were from the Ministries of Finance, Employment, Commerce, and Taxes and Customs; Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Tax and Customs; members of UNACOIS’ national and regional leadership teams; the Senegal National Employers’ Association (CNES); and print and TV media.

UNACOIS and CIPE developed a Public-Private Dialogue document, which was utilized to animate the PPD discussions. The PPD document sought to achieve two main objectives (links in French):

1)      To highlight

  • The importance of the SME  and informal sectors to political, economic, and social stability;
  • The local challenges that bedevil Senegal’s SME operators, especially those in the informal sector;
  • Best international practices in creating entrepreneurial societies.

2)      To recommend

  • Government support for the creation of regional SME co-operatives, which would provide benefits such as;
    • Improved access to finance through a collective guarantee system;
    • Better access to compete for public tenders;
    • Economies of scale for SME operators within each region.
    • The adoption of new technologies in vocational training, which would provide benefits such as;
      • Overcoming the issue of low literacy levels among Senegal’s SME operators.
      • Government support for sustained public-private dialogue between UNACOIS and the various provincial governments.

The Minister of Commerce, Industry, and the Informal Sector was impressed by the methodology that predicated the document’s findings and assertions. He promised to consult with the Prime Minister of Senegal, who – according to the Francophone system of governance – is the executive leader of the government. On February 4, 2013, UNACOIS received an official invitation from the Prime Minister for a meeting to discuss UNACOIS’ recommendations.

Such successes by UNACOIS, along with other recent ones, have raised its profile across West Africa as a leading business association. CIPE partners in other West Africa countries such as Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mali repeatedly cite CIPE’s partnership with UNACOIS as a point of reference. By all indications, the partnership between CIPE and UNACOIS should bear positive consequences in the future. This promise now exists because UNACOIS is fulfilling its potential for strong internal governance and effective advocacy. Most importantly, this promise now exists because UNACOIS possesses a commitment to CIPE’s mission.

Supporting Small and Medium Sized Businesses in Senegal

A public-private dialogue session with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

A public-private dialogue session with Senegalese business leaders and President Macky Sall. Watch here (in Wolof)

Caught between the West African Sahel and tropical regions, Senegal is one of the more stable democracies among Francophone countries in Africa. Its record on democratic governance extends back to its independence from under French colonial rule. However, in the economic sphere, it has remained second-best to Cote d’Ivoire – which, with Nigeria, is one of the region’s top two economic powerhouses – and hence assumed a lower international profile.

Nevertheless, with an overwhelmingly young population, food security and unemployment challenges, and its geographic and cultural proximity to neighboring countries that host various radical Islamist groups, Senegal is in need of a vibrant private sector that can contribute to inclusive economic development. Such an outcome is important to Senegal’s democratic stability, as it addresses issues of food security, the religious radicalization of masses of unemployed youth, and the rise to prominence of illicit trades in arms and humans across West Africa.

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Democracy triumphs in Senegal

A woman displayes her inked finger after voting in Senegal's run-off election (Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s presidential election made many follow the news from Dakar with concern – and eventually with great relief. It was the run-off in a tense campaign that pitted incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade against Macky Sall, a former prime minister who worked with Wade for years but nonetheless offered an awaited opportunity for change after more than a decade of Wade’s rule.

The run-off made observers nervous given the unrest that followed the controversial ruling in January that allowed the president to run for the third term despite the constitutional two-term limit. The high court’s argument was that the Constitution changed during Wade’s first term in office and therefore that term did not count toward the allowed total. But many Senegalese were not satisfied with that explanation and violent protests followed, leaving several people dead and over 100 injured.

Aside from the constitutional question, the reasons for popular discontent were many. Wade, 85, was becoming increasingly out of touch with the needs of the country where 60 percent of the population are under 25. Crucially, he failed to deliver when it comes to providing economic opportunity for the country’s youth. In the capital Dakar more than 43.9 percent of young people aged 15–24 work in the informal sector, with many trying to illegally immigrate to Europe or forced into the life of crime. In this context, the president’s decision to spend $26 million on the African Renaissance Monument – a gigantic 164-feet-high bronze statue unveiled on the outskirts of Dakar in 2010 – felt like a vanity project draining funds that would have been better spent on pressing social issues. The image of this venture was further tarnished when Wade casually remarked that that 35% of all tourism revenue from the Monument should go to him.

His popularity also suffered after an incident involving the president handing an IMF official a suitcase with $200,000 as a “parting gift,” which he later claimed to be a mistake by an over-zealous aide. And he was widely perceived to be grooming his son, Karim, already in charge of powerful government posts, as his successor.

All this baggage did not bode well for the Sunday elections, with many fearing that Mr. Wade had embarked on the path of “imperial presidency” – a well-known pattern in Africa – and would contest the results in order to stay in power even if it meant throwing Senegal into civil unrest. Yet, to the widespread relief both domestically and internationally, he promptly acknowledged his electoral defeat, calling to congratulate Sall a few hours after the polls closed.

In the end, Wade acted like a statesman mindful of his legacy, turning what many feared would be the day of chaos into a triumph of democracy. Senegal’s democratic traditions stretch back 900 years to the Waalo kings who held elections in contrast with most other African chiefdoms where the power was passed from father to son. And while most other countries on the continent only began experimenting with democracy in the post-colonial era, Senegal had already held regular elections since the mid-1800s when it began to elect a deputy to the French parliament. Since the independence in 1960, Senegal has been one of the most democratic and stable countries in West Africa – the only one in the region that has never experienced a military coup.

The Sunday vote reaffirmed the country’s democratic credentials, and a peaceful presidential election certainly is welcome news, especially coming just days after the coup in neighboring Mali overthrew its democratic government.  As sociologist Hadiya Tandian put it, “It shows that the Senegalese believe in their voter IDs, that a voter card can change something, can make a difference. It shows that our long democratic heritage continues to live in us day by day.”


Senegal’s Generation of Concrete

    Dakar. From the air, this sprawling city looks like a metropolis on the move, a buzzing quadrilateral jutting into the Atlantic. Cars speed along a supple, newly reconstructed four-lane highway that hugs the rugged coastline. Cranes dot the seaside, building luxury hotels and conference centers, as investors from Dubai revamp the city’s port, hoping to transform it into a high-tech regional hub.

    But on the ground the picture shifts. Jobless young men line the new highways, trying to scratch out a living by selling phone cards, cashews and Chinese-made calculators to passers-by. The port is full of imported food that is increasingly out of reach for most Senegalese. Dakar will soon have a glut of five-star hotel rooms, but rising rents have pushed the city’s poor and even middle-class residents into filthy, flood-prone slums.

A growing sense of malaise is in the air as the benefits of the eye-catching infrastructure investments fail to reach the poor. President Abdoulaye Wade is determined to transform Dakar into West Africa’s mini-Dubai with the stated goal of benefiting young Senegalese he calls the “Generation of Concrete.” But his expensive undertakings have so far failed to truly make it the Generation of Concrete Change. In fact,

    A Gallup survey completed here last year found that only 29 percent of respondents said they had a job, down from 35 percent the previous year. Most telling, 56 percent of those surveyed said they would leave Senegal permanently if they could.

Senegal needs urgent reforms that could change that, incorporate the country’s vast informal sector into the formal economy, and make the Senegalese political system more responsive to the needs of its citizens, especially those underprivileged ones.

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