Senegal: the priority projects of the next president Bassirou Diomaye Faye

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, brought to the presidency by the Senegalese desire for change, will face challenges as considerable as expectations from his inauguration on Tuesday April 2

Senegal: the priority projects of the next president Bassirou Diomaye Faye

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, brought to the presidency by the Senegalese desire for change, will face challenges as considerable as expectations from his inauguration on Tuesday April 2. What will his priorities be and how will he go about it? Some answers.

What are the priority projects?

Bassirou Diomaye Faye mentioned his priority projects during his first public statement after his victory: “Reduction in the cost of living”, “fight against corruption” and “national reconciliation and reconstruction of the bases of our living together”.

In this sense, and despite three years of tensions, he greeted the outgoing head of state, Macky Sall, one of his main adversaries, "whose vigilance and commitment made it possible to guarantee a free, democratic election and transparent”, and spoke with him on Thursday March 28 at the presidency.

In his program, he promises to reestablish a “sovereignty” sold off, according to him, abroad. He wants to renegotiate oil and gas contracts and fishing agreements, leave the CFA franc, invest in agriculture to get closer to food self-sufficiency.

But its main challenge will be “job creation”, estimates economist Mame Mor Sene, of the University of Dakar. In this country where 75% of the population is under 35 and where the unemployment rate officially stands at 20%, more and more young people are fleeing poverty and taking the path of illegal emigration to Europe, despite the dangers.

Why will this be difficult?

“Solving the unemployment problem will take time and will not be easy. It’s the entire structure of the economy that needs to be revised,” says Mar Mome Sene. The researcher emphasizes that it will be necessary to invest massively in the industrial sector, while the economy is traditionally based on services.

Mr. Sene recommends that the next president not take sole responsibility for job creation. According to him, the State must support the private sector, invest in human capital and create a favorable business climate. Hit by the Covid-19 crisis and then the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the economy suffered greatly from exogenous shocks. The prices of basic goods and rent costs have risen sharply.

The population expects rapid results but Mr. Sene warns that “they will have to be patient”. “Everything cannot be resolved overnight,” he emphasizes.

What to expect quickly?

The first mission will be to create a “favorable environment and restore trust between Senegalese” broken under the previous regime, says Mr. Sene. Mr. Faye sought to reassure donors, affirming that his country would remain the “safe and reliable ally” of all foreign partners, on the condition that they engage “in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive.”

For political scientist El Hadji Mamadou Mbaye, "rapidly lowering the price of basic products", such as rice, oil or the cost of electricity, could be one of the first measures to quickly give guarantees to electorate.

Institutional reforms and the fight against corruption, through the creation of a National Financial Prosecutor's Office, could also be implemented quickly, he believes. He notes that the new president will have to decide whether or not to dissolve the National Assembly, installed in September 2022, where he does not have a majority. The Constitution prohibits this practice during the first two years of the legislature. Elections would then be possible from mid-November.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye should appoint his first government soon. “It will be composed of men and women of valor and virtue. Senegalese men and women from the interior and the diaspora known for their competence, their integrity and their patriotism,” he declared.