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Senegal’s reforms and red carpets


Africa Report

November 27, 2012

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has slashed government spending to finance new infrastructure projects.

Faced with an audit of Wade-era projects, the opposition says he is playing political games. Dakar has been rolling out the red carpet in recent weeks.

Elected in March on a reform ticket, President Macky Sall is in demand as an interlocutor – whether it is by the World Bank, the UN or France’s President François Hollande, who stopped in Dakar on 12 October en route to his more controversial landing in Kinshasa for the Francophonie summit.

This month, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is holding its annual development conference in Dakar to salute Senegal’s political achievements.

Dakar’s National Assembly gave Hollande the chance to set out his Africa policy, which he insisted was non-interventionist and non-paternalistic.

Hollande seized the chance for a tête à tête with Sall, seeking his help for the regional effort to tackle the worsening in- security in Mali.

Senegal’s troops, alongside Ghana’s, are regarded as the most professional in the region.

But Sall has plenty of local problems to tackle – such as the perennial rainy-season flooding.

The government’s failure to invest in flood defences was one of the reasons for voters turning against former President Abdoulaye Wade.

In September, Macky Sall pushed through a bill to abolish the Senate, the second chamber in the National Assembly.

He promised that the 767bn CFA francs ($1.5bn) would be used to finance a 10-year plan for effective flood defences, storm drainage and sanitation.

Opponents to Sall’s plan accuse him of partisan plotting.

The Senate was dominated by members of Wade’s [I]Parti Démocratique Sénégalais[/I].

But Sall’s supporters insist the plan reflects the need to cut ballooning government overheads inherited from the Wade era.

The Sall government aims to cut the budget deficit from current levels of 7.4% of gross domestic product down to 4% by 2015.

So far, Sall has closed 59 moribund state institutions, banned first-class travel for civil servants and is selling a presidential jet.

To promote accountability, Sall has published details of all official salaries, declared his own assets and promised to cut salaries at state-run companies to below 5m CFA francs per month.

“Humility, sobriety and rigour should govern our politics,” Sall told The Africa Report’s sister magazine Jeune Afrique after his election.

“I assure you that there will be a profound break from the practices that were in force under my predecessor.”

The new government has quickly launched audits of government departments and projects for evidence of illicit disbursements.

This includes projects run by Wade’s son Karim, such as the 650bn CFA franc energy crisis programme, Plan Takkal.

Britain, France and the United States have pledged cooperation in tracking down stolen money.

Sall rejects claims of political vindictiveness: “The only thing that interests us is that the errors of the past don’t repeat themselves,” he said.

The courts will take cases identified by the audit.

His promise to cut the presidential term from seven to five years with immediate effect won local and international plaudits, as did his agreement with the African Union to set up a special tribunal for Chad’s ex-leader Hissène Habré, in exile in Senegal since 1990.

SENEGAL: Overfishing – culprits and consequences


 

IRIN

DAKAR, 18 July 2012 (IRIN) – Senegal stopped renewing agreements allowing European fishing vessels in its waters in 2006, but now an expanding artisanal fleet and local industrial boats enjoying exclusivity under lax regulations are being blamed for malpractice and degrading the country’s main economic and food resource.

“In terms of environmental degradation, the responsibility is shared. Artisanal fishermen are responsible for habitat destruction. Although industrial vessels and foreign ships are often blamed, artisanal fishermen contribute hugely to the disappearance of species,” said Moustapha Thiam, the director of Senegal’s Maritime Fishing Authority, a Fisheries Ministry department.

Foreign industrial trawlers are often criticized for overfishing off the West African coast, where some governments are also accused of issuing unregulated licences that overlook the consequences to local economies and livelihoods.

Industrial fishing has really reduced. Small-scale fishing is quite dynamic,” Thiam told IRIN. Of the 409,429 metric tonnes of fish caught in 2010, artisanal fishermen contributed 370,448 tonnes, according to the Maritime Fishing Authority.

Fishing is Senegal’s foremost economic activity, employing around 15 percent of the workforce – about 600,000 people – and is the main foreign currency earner. Local consumption is 28kg per person per year, twice the world average, and 75 percent of protein in the diet comes from fish.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that there were around 16,000 small fishing boats in Senegal in 2011, compared to about 5,000 in 1982. [Situation de l’immatriculation des embarcations de type artisanal]

“It is the sector with the biggest socio-economic impact locally,” said Ahmed Diamé, a Greenpeace Africa oceans campaigner. “Among the problems are the use of the wrong net size and dynamite… With free access to the resource, [artisanal] fishing has significantly increased. We have noted a reduction in catches since 2000. There is also a decline in the quality of fish caught – they are smaller,” he noted.

To boost the sector, the government subsidizes fuel and equipment for the local fishermen. “What needs to be revised is the quest for short-term profit. This is what drives the sector and what kills it. There is free access to the resource because fishing is not regulated,” said Papa Gora Ndiaye, secretary general of West Africa Fishing Policy Network (REPAO), a regional NGO.

“When we were kids, we could see big fish caught. But nowadays, we need to go very far to catch anything,” said Yakhya, a fisherman in Soumbédioune, one of the fishing ports along the shores of Senegal’s seaside capital, Dakar.

In the days when local boatmen navigated by instinct, returning to a rich spot happened by chance. “There is no more mystery. When I was young, if you found a good spot, it could take a few days to find it again,” said retired fisherman Papa Nguer. “Now all the boats have GPS [global positioning system].”

The government is trying to regulate the sector, registering and controlling the licences issued to local fishermen, but critics argue that these measures are not enough in a country where fishing is the main source of income for millions.

“The state has to decide to reduce the fishing capacity. It is useless to have fishing permits if the fishing fleet is untouched,” said Gaoussou Guèye, the head of a local association for responsible artisanal fishing.

“There are subsistence and economic issues at stake. The problem is to control without generating social catastrophes,” said Captain Djibril Diawara, the head of operations at the Fishing Monitoring and Protection Authority (DSPM).

Few industrial vessels have ventured into territorial waters since Dakar stopped renewing Fishing Partnership Agreements with the European Union. Now, the industrial fishing fleet is mainly local, others in joint venture with Europeans and there have been accusations of corruption and favouritism.

Authorities say the fleet is mostly old, poses environmental risks and often fishes in protected areas. The DSPM has six boats, none of which can reach the high seas, a plane that has been under repair for two years, and a staff of 150.

“It is an aging fleet. Most boats are more than 30 years old, which means they have more destructive fishing practices,” said the Maritime Fishing Department’s Thiam.

With the support of a programme funded by the World Bank, the government plans to reduce the number of artisanal boats by 25 percent and ground the old industrial fishing fleet, Thiam said.

Implementing the plan will be arduous. “Suggesting that the state should stop subsidizing fishermen to reduce fishing capacity raises questions about the risk of fish becoming more expensive for the Senegalese people,” said Greenpeace’s Diamé.

”Experts call for sustainable fishing and environmental protection. “The industry should be bolstered, providing it with means to use the resources in a sustainable and profitable manner.” He called for the creation of marine reserves in the high seas where fishing is banned.

“Fishing and the number of fishermen should be reduced,” Guèye said. “Not everyone can be a fisherman or a fishmonger. There should be a fisheries management plan – we cannot have congestion,” he suggested.
“It is up to the government to set up these plans. It has the responsibility to manage the resources for the future generation.”

 

Senegal: Contested Presidential Polls and Contract Risks If the Opposition Wins


AllAfrica.com

BY EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS

January 27, 2012 27

ANALYSIS

On 26 February, presidential elections are due in which President Abdoulaye Wade will run for a third term, if the Constitutional Court rules Wade’s candidacy is legal, which is likely.

Wade will be able to mobilise rural support, but he is unlikely to win the endorsement of all the influential Sufi brotherhoods. He also faces growing unpopularity, particularly amongst youths and in urban areas, due to the rising cost of living and economic mismanagement. The elections are likely to go to a run-off, increasing chances of an opposition win. This would heighten contract risks in important sectors for foreign investors like construction, transport and tourism.

Divisions within the opposition and the lack of a nationwide base for most of the candidates will limit their chances of a win in the first round. However, the growing importance of the urban vote and a very likely rallying behind the leading opposition candidate after the first round – expected to be Moustapha Niasse, Macky Sall, Idrissa Seck or Tanor Diang – would increase their chances in the second round.

Popular singer Youssou N’dour, who announced his candidacy on 2 January, is unlikely to win political support among the elite but is popular amongst the youth, making him a possible kingmaker for the opposition in the second round.

An opposition victory would increase risks of corruption investigations and contract cancellations targeting major infrastructure contracts pursued by Wade and his son, powerful Transport and Infrastructure Minister Karim Wade. These include the new airport in Dakar or Dubai Ports World‘s contract for Dakar Port’s development.

Tourist resorts owned by consortiums in which Karim Wade is involved would also be at risk. Revisions would be likely to contracts recently signed by the Wade government, including the awarding of two oil exploration licences to African Petroleum in late November 2011. While contract and regulatory risks would be lower under another Wade term, he would most likely promote populist policies like increasing subsidies and revising contracts in the ailing power sector.

Protest risks will be high during these closely-contested elections, especially in the event of voting fraud allegations, further arrests of opposition leaders and Wade’s re-election. Risks will be highest in Dakar, Thies, Thivaouane and Kaolack.

Protests could escalate into riots, which would pose high risks of damage to government buildings, public transport and public utilities assets. Fighting between opposition and ruling party supporters will also pose moderate risks to individuals. On 22 December, a Wade supporter was shot dead in fighting between youths outside the Mermoz-Sacre Coeur city council.

Exclusive Analysis is a specialist intelligence company that forecasts commercially relevant political and violent risks worldwide.

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