Fueling Optimism: The Hot Progress of Macky Sall’s ‘Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES)’

  • Macky Sall launched the Plan for Emerging Senegal (PES) in 2014 focusing on economic transformation and the promotion of human capital through good governance by 2035.
  • Sall has focused on infrastructural development to boost his popularity and ultimately improve Senegal’s economy within the WAEMU region and in Africa
  • The PES plays a part in explaining the position of Senegal in the WAEMU region being the 2nd largest economy, essentially helping achieve Sall’s governance goal of revolutionising Senegal.
DFID – UK Department for International Development / CC BY 2.0

Why is Sall Hot?

Answer: In 2014, the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) was established in Senegal which focuses on infrastructural development and has so far led to some increased support for Sall.

President of Senegal Macky Sall  introduced the ‘The Plan for an Emerging Senegal’ (PES)  in 2014, two years after he became president. The PES had its first operational phase between 2014 to 2018 and showed a consistent economic growth rate of 6% annually. This growth enabled Senegal’s poverty rate to reduce by 5%, from  42.8% in 2011 to 37.8% in 2018, thus leading to Senegal having the lowest poverty rate in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) region. The PES has also contributed to Senegal having the 2nd largest economy in the WAEMU region. 

Sall’s vision for robust economic development in Senegal has been notable from his governance goal of revolutionization through the PES where initiatives like the regional air hub to expand national airports have encouraged national and international trade- contributing to its GDP growth rate from 1.6% in 2020 to 6.54% in 2021.

The improvements  in food security and budgets for a new agricultural program as an extension have also led to rural development  however it is notable that these positive policies have been accompanied by various forms of government repression thus a compromise on democracy. 

Senegal’s entry into the group of African countries with high-speed train  capabilities marked a noteworthy strategic move. The inauguration of the regional express train, operating at a speed of 160 km/h, holds particular significance as it links the country’s capital, Dakar, with the newly established airport via a network of 14 stations. This development reflects a deliberate and forward-thinking approach to transportation infrastructure, which warrants careful consideration and analysis. 

Sall’s effective implementation of the PES policy, its alignment with his personal and governance objectives, some domestic popularity resulting from the policy, and the notable response of high veto players collectively affirm the characterization of his administration’s heat level as ‘hot.’

What is changing Sall’s heat level?

Answer: Sall’s leadership has seen successes in economic development projects and international partnerships but it also faces challenges such as political opposition, youth unemployment and project delays.

Senegal is one of the strongest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. The country is facing some challenges, however, including spillovers from the war in Ukraine, tighter financing conditions, and increased political instability in the region. A widening fiscal deficit and increasing government debt are two major concerns. 

Sall’s personal success is ultimately driven by successes from renewable energy projects, infrastructural improvement projects and his focus on the development and growth of the private sector. Through these projects have international partnerships developed- contributing significantly to Sall’s overall success. With regards to addressing youth unemployment in Senegal, opposition to Sall’s efforts remains high. Additionally, project delays in infrastructure development and the use of repressive measures to combat political dissent have still raised concerns. Sall’s decision-making process is influenced by various factors, including constitutional checks, public sentiment, Senegal’s economic capacity, and its international reputation.

Political unrest in Senegal continues to exist following the arrest  of opposition leader Sonko which has so far led to domestic unrest and enhanced militarization in the region. The political and economic landscape of 2022 unfolds complexity defined by an intersection of factors that contribute to some aspects of transformation. Here, the PES is seen as a tool that has generally led to the overall success of Sall’s government.

As a means to combat challenges faced in Senegal, Sall became a voice of Africa in the Russia-Ukraine war to express his concerns on grain imports given the 40% dependency Senegal has on wheat from Russia and oil imports needed in West Africa- calling for more assured economic trade rather than humanitarian relief. Sall’s role as a chairperson of the African Union extends support to countries like Zimbabwe who have experienced economic sanctions from the West.

Though the global economic slowdown triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine further explains Senegal’s economic journey- which has followed a rebound in growth in 2021, with a 6.5% increase in GDP, Senegal’s real GDP growth decelerated in 2022 to 4.2%. This deceleration can be attributed to a decline in private investment and exports, as well as a decline in industrial production.

Sall’s positioning between a ‘Mild’ and ‘Blazing’ political spectrum would be due to his confrontations with constitutional constraints, while simultaneously displaying efforts to centralise power and address the repercussions of the Ukraine conflict.

What is driving Sall?

Answer: Opportunities Arising from International Investment, Survival Entrepreneurship, and the successes of the PES project

Despite the numerous plans, Senegal still faces significant socio-economic challenges domestically, thus the phenomenon of survival entrepreneurship  existing in the country. This holds the potential of being an incredible driver and opportunity for development in Senegal where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are established with the capability of supporting and strengthening economic innovation. Within this context, 25 to 40% of the population represent the survival entrepreneur workforce in Senegal- reflecting the great opportunity start ups can have in the country. However, economic vulnerability greatly exists through the high regressive tax policies limiting the start of business. 

Sall’s personal and governance goals are well defined and the successes of the PES have encouraged international investment and expanded opportunities for multinational corporations. In line with his personal goals, Sall’s personal values and ethics have helped shape his policies where his focus has also been on equality for women to promote entrepreneurship – enforcing the pillar on developing human capital as an element of the PES.

Infrastructural development under the PES has been the key to international investment where projects in oil and gas have been financed as an extension of its strong economic performance. The launch  of American oil company Kosmos Energy in Senegal has become one of the largest producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG). This is an important success for Sall as it directly and positively affects his government given the commitment towards the use of the energy sector to help further achieve economic development in Senegal. 

What does this mean for you?

Answer: A possible decline in democracy in West Africa following the success of government policies

Civil liberties in Senegal have been compromised, and for readers in neighbouring countries, policies like the Plan for Emerging Senegal carries regional importance with a reflection of liberty risk. Democratic Backsliding in Senegal is prominent, most visibly seen through Sall’s interference with the judiciary in eliminating political opposition. Election integrity, political repression and corruption is evidently seen in Sall’s government where oppositional political parties have been disbanded in sole hope for a proper consolidation of power.

Senegal’s big picture economic progress and democratic risk has the potential of a spill-over effect to West African countries, where policies like the PES could further boost trade and economic cooperation in the region- allowing greater prospects for cross-border commerce, investments, and collaboration leading to mutually beneficial outcomes for neighbouring countries simultaneously posing a threat to democracy in the country and in West Africa.

Author: Ruby Wanjikũ Gachara