Senegal is becoming more and more business friendly. For several years, the country has carried out numerous reforms to improve the business climate, facilitate the work of entrepreneurs and increase its attractiveness to investors.
If we look at the latest Doing Business ranking, Senegal has joined the top five most reforming countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, according to the Africa Investment Index, the country is now one of the 10 most attractive destinations for investors on the continent.
Kirene is one of the most beautiful Senegalese success stories of the past 15 years. It produces up to 900 tons of water, juice and milk a day.
Eleven million euros have been invested over the past two years in new machines. For the boss of this company, there is no doubt about how the favorable business climate is benefiting the market.
"This business environment means that there is a purchasing power that is changing significantly," says Alexandre Alcantara, the director-general of Kirene Group. "There is a changing demographic and, above all, we have to provide good quality products with interesting productivity levels."
This "Senegalese champion" now aspires to establish in the neighboring countries, in the region. The company has just invested 20 million euros in a secondary base in the Ivory Coast.
"There is a real dynamic in Senegal, which understands that the sub-region is a gamble. And that it is necessary to project in this sub-region, and that is happening now, Alcantara adds."
Senegal is a good place to do business. This is the message from APIX - the Agency for Investments and Major Works - which has put in place new rules.
Mountaga Sy, the head of APIX, says: "Today you can carry out all the steps related to the creation of a business, the payment of taxes, obtaining a building permit, online, on secure platforms, without moving."
Other measures greatly simplify the lives of entrepreneurs and investors, such as lower energy costs, the creation of special economic zones, and tax incentive packages.
"We welcome investors, guide them, and accompany them, to further secure their investment process," Sy adds.
The brand new Dakar Commercial Court, is a new tool for improving the business climate in Senegal.
Now all decisions are made in less than 90 days. And, a conciliation phase is mandatory in all procedures. The court works with consular judges, ie non-professional judges from the corporate world.
Says Alioune Ndiaye, president of the Dakar Commercial Court, "It's consular judges who know the environment. Take the building sector, for example. We resolved a situation last week, because a specialist explained to us the difficulties in the building sector. That allowed us to settle the case during the day."
The banking sector is also very involved. A data sharing system has been created. It helps secure investments, lower the cost of credit. In short, stimulate this dynamic.
"When we look at the evolution of the figures of the financing of the economy," says Mamadou Bocar Sy, president of the Association of Professional Bankers of Senegal, "It is factual elements which show that there is more and more confidence in the banks and there are more and more investment targeted for wealth and growth."
Senegal attracts more and more foreign investors, but also returning residents. This is the case of Souadou Niang. After 20 years in the US and a great experience in the luxury hotel industry, she invested 2 million euros and opened the first Boutique Hotel in Dakar.
For this project, completed in just nine months, it relied on the services of APIX and the various incentives offered by Senegal.
"You can go in that place [APIX]. In two days, you can have your company set up," says Niang. "After that, they came up with the code of investment. which help new entrepreneurs to go by for another three years with tax free."
This entrepreneur does not intend to stop there. She has plans for a second hotel very soon, and wants to surf this trend and use Senegal to develop elsewhere in Africa.
“It’s my dream to expand it all over Africa. And also inspire other women to say: yes, you can do it."
With its strengths, political and economic stability, strategic position of regional hub, Senegal has great ambitions and promises to continue to deepen reforms and improve its competitiveness.