Population: 15.9 Million
GDP (US$): 5.3% in 2019; 1.3% forecast in 2020
Life Expectancy: 67 years
Median Age: 19 years
Senegal is a former French colony located in West Africa. It is often viewed as an oasis of stability in a turbulent region and has had one of the fastest-growing economies there. It is an important crossroads for marine traffic and trade between Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America, with a major seaport at the capital Dakar and new airport too.
In July 2018, Senegal became the first West African country to join the One Belt, One Road initiative with Senegalese President Macky Sall hailing China as “one of the great economies of the modern era.” The Senegalese government views China as a crucial partner in achieving its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2035. China is now Senegal's second-largest trading partner, after France.
In just a decade, China has invested more than US$1.5 billion into Senegalese projects, including a new highway, bridges and port development. China has pledged billions more in OBOR investment, including a highway connecting the Dakar to Touba, Senegal's second city, and a trans-African railway spanning 10 countries.
But critics have misgivings about the Chinese-driven projects, and question whether they will benefit the wider population or leave Senegal’s younger generation heirs to a nation shouldering massive debt.
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Editing: H. Leo Kim, Mat Pennington
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