The gateway to Africa, Senegal

Located in West Africa, Senegal is known as the “Gateway to Africa”. The Senegalese government has worked to diversify the economy, increasing commercial crops and making fishing, phosphates, and tourism into main economic sectors.

With regard to international trade, Senegal was the 117 largest exporting economy in 2019, with a total of $4.17 billion according International Trade Centre.

Behind Zimbabwe (116) with $4.27 billion and followed by Malta (118) with $4.14 billion. The countries within its geographical area of influence like Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania were placed in positions 83rd, 122nd and 127th respectively.

Key takeaways

2015-2019 GDP annual growth, 6.3%

GDP per capita $1,447 (2019)

Population 16.3 million inhabitants

Trade to GDP, 61 %

Export to Import ratio (X/M), 51%

Foreign Direct Investments, $983 million (2019)

During the period 2015-2019, exports increased at an average annual rate of 15%, from $2.61 billion to $4.17 billion.

Imports reached $8.14 billion in 2019. The trade balance deficit stood at $3.9 billion.

In 2019, the top 5 Senegalese exports with 60% out of the total, were:

  • 20% Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral
  • 15% Natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad
  • 12% Fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates
  • 8% Inorganic chemicals; organic or inorganic compounds of precious metals, of rare-earth metals
  • 5% Ores, slag and ash

The following 5 product groups represent 55% out of total Senegalese imports during 2019:

  • 26% Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral
  • 9% Machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers
  • 7% Cereals
  • 7% Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television
  • 6% Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock


Its main trading partners are France, which represents 12% of exchanges, followed by China with 9% and finally Mali with 8% of exchanges.

Main destinations (exports):

Main origins (imports):

  • 17% France ($1.3 billion)
  • 11% China ($870 million)
  • 7% Belgium ($563 million)
  • 7% Netherlands ($550 million)
  • 5% Nigeria ($418 million)


Regarding bilateral agreements, Senegal has 2 existing regional trade treaties. Its presence in international markets will be bolstered by a new treaty (EU-West Africa EPA) which will come into force soon (at the date of this publication).

Exports of services rose by an average annual rate of 6.35% in the period 2015-2018. During the period 2015-2019, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) received by Senegal reached the average annual figure of $660 million.

The “Ease of Doing Business 2020 report”, ranks Senegal 16 out of 48 African countries.

The urban population is 48%. The main cities are: Dakar (2.6 million inhabitants), Touba (753,315 inhabitants) and Thiès (317,763 inhabitants).

Senegal’s legal system is based on civil law, based on French law. The type of government is presidential republic. The current president of the government is President Macky SALL (since 2 April 2012). The next elections are foreseen for February 2024.

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Data from 2019, other years are stated.


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