Sénégal is one of the most endowed countries in West Africa in terms of natural resources. However, according to the World Food Programme, 39 percent of its 15.4 million population lives below the poverty line, and “75 percent of families suffer from chronic poverty.” This unconvincing economic reality is compounded by an abysmal property rights record, which ranked Sénégal 81 out of 131 countries on the Property Rights Alliance’s 2020 International Property Rights Index. But these economic challenges are tied to the array of policies that keeps many Sénégalese out of key economic circles like the prolific fishing industry.
For example, the Senegalese Constitution reserves the right to explore natural resources for the state-owned companies and affiliate foreign joint ventures. This policy has marginalized indigenous private entrepreneurs. Residents close to areas of oil exploration, for example, are sometimes left with contaminated environments, which has affected the local fishing industry.
In response, Libre Afrique Sénégal organized workshops, which had key stakeholders in the Sénégalese economic space. The purpose of the workshops was to intensify the need for the preservation of property rights and environmental responsibility, as it relates to natural resource exploration, among stakeholders. The program got coverage in more than 15 media outlets in the country and was reviewed by ten senior officials from the ministries of oil and gas, agriculture, fisheries, and justice. The workshop’s summary has also been viewed over 5,000 times on YouTube, with more than 8,000 views on Facebook and Twitter.
Experts from Libre Afrique Sénégal also promoted the findings of the workshop and ideas for forms through 17 media engagements, including appearances on national television and radio stations.
Although there were challenges in bringing stakeholders and lawmakers together to agree on reforms, the persistence of the champions of freedom at Libre Afrique Sénégal has brought about significant changes. The Sénégalese government has developed and adopted a new strategic plan for the fishing industry covering 2021 to 2025. The new policy is a roadmap aimed at revitalizing the sector. The government had also opened a credit line worth 2 Billion FCFA for the actors in the fishing industry. The organization believes more than 10,500 Sénégalese have benefited from this reform through food security, job creation, and sustainable income.
Libre Afrique Sénégal hopes that the government of Sénégal will continue to work with civil society in looking at ways through which the economy could be made stronger, particularly considering the crucial economic role of Sénégal within the West African sub-region. With continued humble steps towards the preservation of property rights and the rights of regular people to participate in the economy, Sénégal would be on the path to enviable success.
Atlas Network supported this initiative with a Start-Up grant.