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Corruption poses moderate to high risks in most sectors in Senegal, with bribery and petty corruption being particularly common. Senegal’s anti-corruption law is primarily contained in the Penal Code (in French), which criminalizes extortion, active and passive bribery, bribing foreign officials and money laundering, as well as private-to-private corruption. The legal status of facilitation payments is unclear, but they are expected when doing business. The legal status and expectations concerning gifts and hospitality are also difficult to determine. Overall, a weak judiciary hinders enforcement of legal provisions.
Last update: August 2017
There is a moderate risk of corruption in Senegal’s court system. Companies report insufficient confidence in the independence of the judiciary (GCR 2016-2017). Irregular payments and bribes in return for favorable judicial decisions are fairly common (GCR 2015-2016). A quarter of Senegalese citizens perceive the most or all of judges as corrupt (GCB 2015). One in ten firms identify the court system as a major problem (ES 2014). Senegal’s judiciary is formally independent of the legislature and executive office, but in practice the executive’s influence over the courts is occasionally evident in cases involving politics and large economic interests (ICS 2017; BTI 2016). Civil society groups have criticized the judiciary for not following up on the cases OFNAC, Senegal’s anti-corruption agency, brings to its attention (GI 2017). None of the cases identified in OFNAC’s 2016 report have been investigated by the judiciary (GI 2017). Nevertheless, executive interference in commercial disputes is rare (ICS 2017). Inadequate pay and lack of tenure sometimes compromise the impartiality of judges (FitW 2016). Despite the aforementioned problems, judicial processes in Senegal are generally procedurally competent (ICS 2017; BTI 2016).
Companies report moderate confidence in the efficiency of the legal framework in settling disputes, but report that efficiency is poor when it comes to challenging government regulations (GCR 2016-2017). Dispute settlement is often slow and cumbersome (ICS 2017). Proceedings in court often take a long time, providing ample opportunity for the involved parties to prolong proceedings (ICS 2017). Businesses often find implementing and enforcing judgments problematic (ICS 2017). Enforcing a commercial contract in Senegal takes longer but costs less than the Sub-Saharan Africa regional average (DB 2017).
Senegal is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and it is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Businesses contend with moderate corruption risks when dealing with Senegal’s police. Corruption in the sector is reportedly common (HRR 2016). About a third of Senegalese citizens consider the police to be corrupt, but only about one in ten reported paying a bribe to the police in the past year (GCB 2015). Civilian authorities generally maintained control over the security services, but they have been ineffective in addressing impunity and corruption (HRR 2016). Reports of police corruption rarely lead to prosecution (GI 2017). Businesses express reasonable confidence in the reliability of police services to protect them from crime and enforce order (GCR 2016-2017). Three out of five firms pay for private security (ES 2014).
Many Senegalese are hesitant to report police corruption; in one case, a woman who filmed a police officer engaging in an act of corruption was prosecuted while the police officer faced no consequences (GI 2017).
There is a moderate chance of experiencing corruption when dealing with Senegal’s public services. Less than one in every ten businesses indicate they expect to give gifts to public officials in order ‘to get things done’ (ES 2014). Nevertheless, bribes and irregular payments are common when dealing with utility services (GCR 2015-2016). Investors in Senegal frequently complain of bureaucratic hurdles (ICS 2017). Frequent demands for “tips” at the lower levels of the bureaucracy in order to advance permits or other paperwork is also cited as a competitive disadvantage in Senegal (ICS 2017). About two-thirds of the reports OFNAC, Senegal’s anti-corruption agency, receives are related to corruption in the public administration (GI 2017).
Starting a business in Senegal takes only half as many steps as the regional average, and only a quarter of the time required elsewhere in the region (DB 2017). Getting electricity takes the same number of steps as elsewhere in the region, yet only slightly more than half the time of the regional average (DB 2017).
There is a fairly high risk of corruption in Senegal’s land administration. Property rights are generally guaranteed and well respected in urban areas of Senegal (BTI 2016). In rural areas, land registration procedures are slow and uncertain and land titles in rural areas are based on traditional rules (BTI 2016). Businesses accordingly report insufficient confidence in the enforcement of the country’s property rights (GCR 2016-2017). The legal defense of property rights is unsatisfactory due to shortcomings in the judiciary including a lack of trained judges which has led to arbitrary and inconsistent judgments (BTI 2016). The Senegalese government has developed a new model to resolve conflicts between customary tenure and formal land ownership, but these have not been widely implemented as of yet (ICS 2017). Senegalese law allows for expropriation through the use of eminent domain justifications, provided compensation is paid to land owners (ICS 2017).
Registering property takes longer and costs significantly more than the Sub-Saharan Africa average (DB 2017).
There is a moderate risk of corruption when dealing with Senegal’s tax administration. Businesses in Senegal indicate that irregular payments and bribes sometimes occur when paying taxes (GCR 2015-2016); one in ten businesses indicate that they expect to give gifts when meeting with tax officials (ES 2014).Tax regulations and tax rates rank among the most problematic factors for business (GCR 2016-2017). The generous system of tax exemptions have at times been abused by high officials in the country for personal gains for themselves and their friends (Seneweb, May 2016). Tax evasion and corruption have impacted the collection of tax receipts in Senegal (Evaluation du Potentiel Fiscal du Sénégal 2016). In 2016, Senegal signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in an effort to step up its fight against tax evasion (OECD, Feb. 2016).
Senegal ranks among the worst countries in the world in terms of paying taxes; the time and number of payments needed to pay taxes are significantly higher than Sub-Saharan Africa averages (DB 2017).
There is a high risk of corruption in Senegal’s customs administration. Companies indicate irregular payments and bribes are common in customs procedures (GETR 2016). Clearance processes are judged to be inefficient and the time-predictability of import procedures is inadequate (GETR 2016). Burdensome import procedures and tariffs are cited by businesses as the most problematic factors for importing (GETR 2016). While import compliance takes companies less time than elsewhere in the region, the associated costs are significantly higher (DB 2017). Export compliance procedures take significantly less time and are less costly than the regional average (DB 2017).
There is a high risk of experiencing corruption in Senegal’s procurement process. Companies indicate that diversion of public funds due to corruption and favoritism in the decisions of government officials are both common (GCR 2016-2017). Bribes and irregular payments are common in the process of awarding government contracts (GCR 2015-2016). About one in five companies expects to give gifts when securing a government contract (ES 2014). In addition, Senegal’s procurement procedures lack accountability and are considered questionable despite recent reforms (BTI 2016). Tenders are still frequently awarded to directly (BTI 2016). The share of directly negotiated agreements has reached twenty percent in 2014 (GI 2017). When the number of bidders able to provide a given service or good is very limited, the tendering authority may negotiate an agreement directly with a company; this particularly happens in the provision of new technologies (GI 2017). Large tenders can be problematic; they are increasingly broken up into smaller tenders to avoid the more stringent rules associated with large tenders (GI 2017). The Public Market Regulatory Authority (ARMP) publishes a list of irregularities found in procurement processes each year, but it is apparent that repercussions rarely affect the careers of the officials involved nor do they change the procedures of the institutions in question (GI 2017). Companies sanctioned for corruption offenses are prohibited from bidding on future contracts; however, public entities found guilty of irregularities in the tendering process are not held liable (GI 2017). There is a need for more e-procurement and better training of ARMP staff in order to reduce corruption risks (DG 2017).
Companies are recommended to use a specialized public procurement due diligence tool to mitigate the corruption risks associated with public procurement in Senegal.
Companies face a high risk of corruption in Senegal’s natural resources sector. The monitoring, testing, enforcement and sanctioning capacities of the government for environmental management and mine closure remain weak (IGF 2016). Financial statements related to natural resource exploitation are not readily available to the general public (GI 2017). Deforestation by illegal timber traffickers is a major problem in Senegal which the government has been unable to stop (Africa News, Dec. 2015). Authorities may be complicit; in one case a local mayor tried to report on illegal deforestation in a nearby forest reserve to the government, yet the official overseeing the case tried to bribe him to stay quiet (Africa News, Dec. 2015). Senegal’s joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2014, and is set to be evaluated against the standard for the first time in late 2017. As part of this effort, Senegal introduced a new Mining Code in 2016 which aims to improve transparency (DLA Piper, Mar. 2017). Senegal has announced it will publish a list of beneficial ownership as part of EITI by 2020 (EITI 2017).
Large oil and gas reserves were discovered, but concerns about the readiness of the country to exploit these in a transparent and beneficial way are widespread (The Financial Times, Dec. 2016). There are allegations of favoritism in the sale of two offshore drilling permits in 2012 to a firm led by Aliou Sall, the president’s brother (The Financial Times, Dec. 2016).
Senegal’s Penal Code (in French) is the primary law that criminalizes corrupt activities, with extortion, active and passive bribery, bribery of foreign officials and money laundering all illegal under the Code. Private-to-private corruption is also illegal under the Code. However, enforcement is weak, despite improvements from President Sall’s current anti-corruption strategy (BTI 2016). Concerning assets disclosure, government Accounting Office members and public accountants are obliged to disclose their assets, but many categories of public agents are exempt, and conflicts of interest are frequent. Of those required to disclose their assets, 51 percent did not submit an asset disclosure (GI 2017). The legal status of facilitation payments in Senegal is unclear, but they are common (CatC 2011). Senegal has no law on whistleblowing, but whistleblower protections are, in theory, part of its legal provisions (through the UNCAC) as the Senegalese Constitution states that ratified conventions have immediate effect on national law. More information on whistleblowing in Senegal can be found on the website of PLAAF. Accordingly, both public and private sector employees who report on corruption are theoretically protected from negative consequences. Senegal has ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Senegal’s Constitution and law provide for freedoms of speech and press, but the government occasionally limits these rights (HRR 2016). The media is generally able to criticize the government openly, but self-censorship is a concern due to the use of criminal defamation laws against journalists (FotP 2016). Despite promises from several senior officials, the defamation has not been decriminalized and laws enabling openness of information have not been passed (FotP 2016). There are many privately owned media outlets; the government-run television news station generally favors the government in its coverage (FotP 2016). Access to the internet is unrestricted, and no monitoring by the government has been reported; Senegal’s press environment is considered ‘partly free’ (FotP 2016).
Senegalese law guarantees the rights to free association and assembly, and civil society groups are active and strong (BTI 2016; FitW 2016). President Sall has strong political and personal relationships with many civil society leaders (BTI 2016). Civil society groups are integrated into the president’s political framework (BTI 2016). NGOs are often highly reliant on foreign funding (BTI 2016).
- World Bank: Doing Business 2017.
- US Department of State: Investment Climate Statement 2017.
- Global Integrity: Africa Integrity Indicators 2017.
- Development Gateway: Open Contracting Scoping Study Senegal 2017.
- The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: Senegal Profile 2017.
- DLA Piper: “Senegal’s New Mining Code: Following Regional Trends”, 24 March 2017.
- World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017.
- World Economic Forum: Global Enabling Trade Report 2016.
- Bertelsmann Foundation: Transformation Index 2016.
- US Department of State: Human Rights Report 2016.
- Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2016.
- Freedom House: Freedom of the Press 2016.
- Senegal Ministry of Economics and Finance: Evaluation du Potentiel Fiscal du Sénégal 2016.
- IGF: IGF Mining Policy Framework Assessment Senegal 2016.
- The Financial Times: “Oil and Gas Discoveries Fuel Senegalese Fears”, 27 December 2016.
- Seneweb: “Exonérations Fiscales au Sénégal: Plus de 500 Milliards CFA Dans Le Vent”, 9 May 2016 (in French).
- OECD: “Senegal Takes Key Steps Towards Improving Tax Transparency”, 4 February 2016.
- World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016.
- Transparency International: Global Corruption Barometer 2015.
- Africa News: “Senegal Losing Battle Against Illegal Loggers as Desert Advances”, 19 December 2015.
- World Bank: Enterprise Surveys 2014.
- GIABA: Tax Fraud and Money laundering in West Africa- A Human and Economic Development Perspective 2012.
- Freedom House: Countries at the Crossroads – Senegal 2011.