The postponement of the presidential election in Senegal, a “huge waste of money” for entrepreneurs | EUROtoday

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The postponement of the presidential election has plunged Senegal right into a context of uncertainty. Local entrepreneurs concern that the scenario may have a long-lasting impression on the nation's economic system.

In its workplaces in Dakar, behind the northern freeway (VDN), Racine Sarr evaluations orders together with her groups. Around ten individuals are gathered in a small open area for a web based convention. Piles of packages litter the bottom.

Racine Sarr is a Senegalese entrepreneur, founding father of Shopmeaway, an import-export platform meant to facilitate commerce with Senegal.

“Here, multinationals and buyers profit from an excellent enterprise local weather however the improvement of native companies is troublesome. Access to credit score, markets but in addition tools is difficult as a result of virtually the whole lot should be imported. This is the place that we intervene, to pool purchases and acquire higher circumstances.”

The Shopmeaway team, in front of its offices, in Dakar.
The Shopmeaway group, in entrance of its workplaces, in Dakar. © David Rich, France 24

Like all Senegalese, Racine Sarr intently follows the evolution of the political scenario within the nation. The sudden interruption of the electoral course of twenty-two days earlier than the presidential election, by President Macky Sall, then its postponement till December 15 throughout a vote within the National Assembly, plunged Senegal right into a interval of uncertainty which might have a critical impression on the nation's economic system.

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Loss of reliable

In West Africa, Senegal is taken into account an financial hub. The nation is in second place, after Côte d'Ivoire, among the many economies of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), which additionally consists of Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Mali and Niger.

In phrases of worldwide commerce, Senegal is nonetheless one of many underserved markets, remembers Racine Sarr. A class that features most international locations on the continent, the Middle East in addition to Latin America. As the volumes of products are decrease, the value of freight could be very excessive.

“Here, if you need a computer, the reflex is to wait until you go to France, because having a computer delivered to Dakar can cost five or six times more expensive than having it delivered to Paris, when it is is possible”, underlines Racine Sarr.

Recently, his firm signed a contract with Amazon which, till now, didn’t ship to Senegal. A pleasant transfer.

“In addition to the query of quantity which governs costs, the query of belief is important. Our function is to be a vector of belief. This is after all linked to the political stability of the nation, which has been till now one in every of our foremost property. Today, we’re dropping it,” he laments.

The Shopmeaway team meeting in its offices in Dakar.
The Shopmeaway group assembly in its workplaces in Dakar. © David Rich, France 24

Double impression on the economic system

Racine Sarr has unhealthy reminiscences of the newest episodes of unrest skilled by the nation across the authorized affairs of opponent Ousmane Sonko, as we speak in jail. “His house is just across the highway. During protests, tear gas was entering our offices even when the doors were closed.”

In 2021, after the arrest of the chief of the Pastef get together, now dissolved, demonstrators attacked French multinationals. Auchan shops and workplaces of Total and Eiffage had been vandalized throughout these lethal riots. “It was not France that was attacked, it was Senegalese who were attacked,” reacted Papa Samba Diouf, an Auchan supervisor in Senegal, recalling that the corporate employs 1000’s of locals and distributes a whole bunch of 1000’s of merchandise from Senegalese agriculture.

In 2023, as soon as once more, the conviction of Ousmane Sonko to 2 years in jail in a morals case ignites the powder. Stores, public buildings and banks are ransacked, resulting in cascading results with energy and Internet cuts, late funds and even shortages of tickets at ATMs.

“These episodes of unrest have two types of effects on the economy,” explains Thierno Thioune, Senegalese economist, director of the Center for Applied Economic Research (Crea). “In the medium to long term, they affect confidence and therefore international partnerships and investments. But they also have an immediate impact on Senegalese business due to the disruptions they generate.”

In Senegal, the individuals hardest hit by these disruptions are those that work within the casual sector. An enormous a part of the nation's economic system which represents 97% of jobs created, based on a latest World Bank report. Many market sellers, drivers and supply males, who rely on their every day earnings to assist their households, have discovered themselves unable to work. Some misplaced their work instruments in the course of the waves of riots.

“It’s hellish what we are going through”

So far, Racine Sarr's actions haven’t been affected by the tensions linked to the postponement of the election, other than the chopping of cell Internet, the day after Macky Sall's speech. But others have already suffered large losses.

“We had concluded a communications contract with one of the candidates. We had already purchased the equipment. In the end, 20,000 euros in profits passed under our noses, that's not nothing for a small structure “, deplores Ousmane Diallo, jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur, shareholder of a number of start-ups. “We don't necessarily realize it, but the presidential elections represent a financial windfall for a lot of sectors: consultants, printers, advertisers, transport companies, sound systems, food businesses and so on.”

Today, the businessman is anxious about his actions in tourism, one of many nation's most essential financial sectors together with mining, development, fishing and agriculture. “It’s hellish what we are going through,” he criticizes. “I feel deep dismay, real disappointment with the postponement of the election.”

A sense shared by Racine Sarr. “It's a huge waste of money. I've always had a lot of respect for authority and observed a form of restraint on politics. But now, people like me can no longer remain neutral. With the postponement of the presidential election and all its implications, my feeling is that political calculations endanger the interests of all.”