The average Senegalese consumer has very limited purchasing power. However, the emergence of an upper-middle-class has led to the development of supermarket chains, mostly international ones. Here, the consumer with a high purchasing power can buy foreign products, with a preference for American and French products. Euromonitor International identifies Senegal as one of the twenty “markets of the future” that will offer the most opportunities for consumer goods companies globally. Unlike most other countries of the region, where inflation and currency value erosion are the main drivers of nominal expansion, Senegal offers both price and currency stability. Although Senegal is below the Sub-Saharan African average in terms of per capita expenditure, some individuals enjoy high-income levels and can afford a variety of goods and services. There are also big inequalities between rural and urban areas: as an example, in the country’s capital Dakar the per capita spending level is double that of the country’s average. In Senegal, the median age is 19.4 years (CIA World Factbook, 2020 est.). When entering adulthood, these individuals will represent huge potential for the housing, durable goods, automotive and alcohol sectors.
The Senegalese have a habit of using mostly imported products such as rice and sugar which are basic ingredients. This anchorage to foreign products is explained by a lack of familiarity with local consumption. In principle, the local Senegalese prefers to buy imported products that they judge to be of the best quality. The majority of retail trade in the country takes place in the informal sector. However, recent years were characterised by an emergence of supermarkets, which prompted an increase in official sales. The Senegalese women are big consumers of beauty and skin-care products and are attracted by American brands. A growing number of young adults fuel the demand for modern homes. Therefore, the housing market is gradually transforming from sand-floor shacks to houses with access to water supply and electricity, resulting in an increasing demand for consumer appliances and home care products.
Senegal is regarded as one of the most stable countries in Africa and although it suffers from poverty levels of more than 46%, it is the second-fastest growing economy in West Africa. Strong demographic growth and rapid urbanisation in recent years have transformed the food economy from subsistence farming to one where 45% of its population now lives in cities. The informal sector, which includes thousands of small independent shops, kiosks and traditional open-air markets dominates, accounting for as much as 80% of food wholesale and retail activity.
The wholesale and retail food industry was estimated to be worth around US$3.0bn or 20% of the country’s GDP of US$14.24bn in 2016. Currently the formal sector, which is dominated by hypermarkets and conventional supermarkets – most of them from foreign brands such as the leader Auchan Retail and Casino - situated mostly in Dakar, make up an estimated 2% of the food retail sector. This is expected to increase as the economy improves and the level of urbanization continues to rise. Role players believe the resulting growing urbanized middle class will increase demand for the convenience and variety offered by formal retail and supermarkets.
Senegal has a high number of expatriates and the number of high-income consumers has continued to increase. This has contributed to a greater demand for high value-added products (HVP). Strong population growth (2.25% - CIA World Factbook, 2021 est.) and urbanisation (3.73% - CIA World Factbook, 2015-20 est.) indicate that this trend will continue. Casino, a well-established French mass retailer, offers a wider range of products, including some products of American origin. Another supermarket chain, CityDia, a subsidiary of the French group Carrefour, has opened several stores in Dakar as well as convenience stores at Total petrol stations. Atac, a French supermarket chain, mainly distributes French brand products. Since 2016, Auchan, a French hypermarket chain, has opened many retail stores in Dakar. Nevertheless, the informal sector and independent grocery stores continue to dominate the Senegalese mass retail market.
As of December 2017, Senegal had a population of 16.29 million people, out of which 9.75 million were Internet users, placing the penetration rate at 59.8 % (Internet Live Stats). There were 16.18 million mobile subscriptions in the country in 2017. Smartphones are the most popular device to access the Internet, as 88.6% of Internet users in Senegal navigate the web through their smartphones (APA News). Senegal had a 15% smartphone penetration in 2017, with Samsung phone devices occupying 7 out of the 10 most popular smartphones used in the country (Tech Weez). The mobile market has prospered partly due to poor fixed-line infrastructure in some rural areas. However, even though there are still infrastructure problems in the country, the government is investing in technological improvement. In 2017, the country's first Internet exchange point, SENIX, was launched in Dakar. The infrastructure has allowed a direct exchange of internet traffic between providers and has also reduced the cost of access for consumers. It has quickly become a symbol of Senegal’s digital independence and economic development. According to Lonely Planet, free wi-fi is generally available throughout the country's urban areas. The most popular browsers in the country by market share as of July 2018 were Chrome (71.16%), followed by Safari (7.58%), Firefox (6.52%), Samsung Internet (3.61%), Android (3.39%), and Opera (2.77%). As for search engines, Google dominated the market (91.33%), followed by Bing (5.01%), Yahoo (2.49%) and MSN (0.62%).
There is no official data on e-commerce value and revenue in Senegal. However, it is known that the ICT sector contributes to 2% of the Senegalese GDP (APA News). According to a UNCTAD report, Senegal was one of the top 10 economies in B2C e-commerce in Africa in 2016. There are approximately 60 e-commerce websites in Senegal focused on electronic payment methods, logistics, and delivery services (ICTSD). Under the Government's Digital Senegal 2016-2025 plan, e-commerce is being strengthened by updating its legal framework, setting up conditions for mutual operations between electronic financial services, supporting the creation of e-commerce websites for local products, and offering the possibility of electronic payment. The plan also aims to promote the economic and social empowerment of women through e-commerce, with intended utilisation rates for the rural female population of 33% by 2025. Given that Senegal benefits from political stability and efficient institutions, it attracts more foreign investment that its neighbours. However, the growth of e-commerce is a long way from reaching the sector’s full potential. Current obstacles include difficult customs laws, few international electronic payment options and a particular lack of trust between consumers and sellers. Some of the main e-commerce websites in the country are the foreign ones which sell imported products, like Jumia.sn, CDiscount, and Kaymu.sn.
Organizing Goods Transport
Main Useful Means of Transport
The Dakar Port Authority occupies a privileged position in the maritime traffic of West Africa. It is not only the central point of the country's traffic but also that of the region, in particular with Mali. Senegal is equipped with three airports open to international traffic: the L.S. Senghor (Dakar) Airport, Cap Skirring and Saint Louis and 12 other airports open to domestic traffic.
The railway network is composed of two principal lines: - Dakar - Thies - Louga - Saint-Louis; - Dakar - Thies - Diourbel - Tambacounda - Bamako, with a branch line towards Kaolack. This line ensures the international traffic with Mali.
These two lines are open for the transport of merchandise and people. The rail network is used not only for transporting most of the mineral products and fuels but also a part of the agricultural produce.
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