Corruption poses risks in most sectors in Senegal, with bribery and petty corruption being particularly common. Senegal's anti-corruption law is primarily contained Penal Code (in French), which criminalises 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 is difficult to determine. Overall, a weak judiciary hinders enforcement of legal provisions, but the sitting government has shown a willingness to curb corruption.
Last update: July 2015
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Senegal's judiciary is subject to government influence, and corruption is prevalent in the sector (BTI 2014). Businesses report that the legal framework for settling disputes and challenging regulations is inefficient and that the judicial system is subject to political influence from members of government, citizens or companies (GCR 2014-2015). Enforcing a commercial contract in Senegal takes longer but costs less than the Sub-Saharan Africa regional average (DB 2015), and property disputes are inconsistently resolved (ICS 2015). Low wages and a lack of tenure leaves Senegal's judges vulnerable to external influences (FitW 2014). Most Senegalese citizens believe the judiciary is corrupt (GCB 2013).
Corruption, impunity and abuse of office are serious problems in Senegal's police force, and police have reportedly detained and pressured journalists who reported on government scandals, waste or fraud (HRR 2013). Any investigation into the police force needs special authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior; this procedure reportedly contributes a culture of impunity within the police (CatC 2011). There are isolated reports of citizens being detained for reporting on police corruption (FitW 2015).
Businesses consider Senegal's police force to be effective in enforcing law and order (GCR 2014-2015), but Senegalese citizens rate the police as the most corrupt institution in the country, with over three-quarters of respondents believing police are corrupt (GCB 2013).
There is a moderate chance of experiencing corruption when dealing with Senegal's public services. Investors in the country face significant challenges when applying for public services in the country (ICS 2014). Senegal ranks among the worst countries in the world in terms of acquiring an electricity connection, and the country ranks below the Sub-Saharan Africa average for dealing with construction permits (DB 2015).
Corruption is rare in Senegal's land administration. Property rights in Senegal are protected by law and in practice once ownership is established and registered (ICS 2014), but registering property takes longer and costs significantly more than the Sub-Saharan Africa average (DB 2015). In addition, registration processes can be quite difficult, particularly in rural areas (FitW 2014). Businesses report there is reasonable protection of property rights in Senegal (GCR 2014-2015).
Businesses in Senegal indicate that irregular payments and bribes sometimes occur when paying taxes, and tax regulations and rates rank among the most problematic factors for business (GCR 2014-2015). 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 worse than Sub-Saharan Africa averages (DB 2015).
Tax evasion in Senegal is widespread (GIABA, May 2012). The mismanagement of tax revenues is the main reason behind the low-payment of taxes; the majority of respondents attribute the prevalence of tax fraud among individuals to the corrupt behaviour of officials (GIABA, May 2012).
Corruption may occur when dealing with Senegal's customs administration. Companies believe burdensome import procedures and corruption at the border affect trade in Senegal, with irregular customs payments constituting a competitive disadvantage for the country (GETR 2014). Senegal ranks better than Sub-Saharan Africa averages in terms of the time and money needed to import and export goods (DB 2015).
A 2012 report by the African Development Bank notes that the customs administration in Senegal is heavily burdened with corruption and bribery and that facilitation payments are widespread in the sector. For instance, a truck transporting goods through customs in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, would reportedly necessitate the payment of bribes amounting to more than USD 430.
There is a moderate risk of experiencing corruption in Senegal's procurement process. Companies state that the diversion of public funds due to corruption can sometimes occur and that the decisions of government officials frequently favour well-connected companies and individuals (GCR 2014-2015). In addition, Senegal's procurement procedures lack accountability and are considered questionable (BTI 2014), and there are credible allegations concerning corruption in the sector (ICS 2013).
A 2013 publication by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports the government of Senegal has established various provisions for promoting the participation of local SMEs in public tenders, including measures to break down large tenders and requirements to publish tenders online and to inform rejected candidates. The provisions also suffer from shortcomings, such as complex legislation, prerequisites for bidding, partial online publication of public tenders and limited feedback on tender evaluation outcomes. Companies are recommended to use a specialised public procurement due diligence tool to mitigate the corruption risks associated with public procurement in Senegal.
It is unclear if companies are likely to encounter corruption in Senegal's natural resources sector. Twenty percent of the country's exports come from mining, but current legislation and oversight mechanisms are not sufficient to ensure adequate governance within the sector (Transparency International, Nov. 2013). However, Senegal's application to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was approved in 2013, making Senegal an EITI candidate country. Click here to read about EITI Senegal.
Senegal's Penal Code (in French) is the primary law that criminalises 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 2014). 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. 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 UNCAC) as the Senegalese Constitution states that ratified conventions have immediate effect on national law. 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). Access the Lexadin World Law Guide for a collection of legislation in Senegal.
Senegal's Constitution and law provide for freedoms of speech and press, but the government limits these rights in practice (HRR 2013). Independent media is often critical of the government, but self-censorship is sometimes practiced because of criminal defamation laws that have been used against journalists (FitW 2014). Access to the internet is unrestricted, and no monitoring by the government has been reported; Senegal's press environment is considered 'partly free' (FotP 2014).
Senegalese law guarantees the rights to free association and assembly, and civil society groups are active and strong; the groups working with human rights and good governance are among the strongest in West Africa (BTI 2014). Since taking office, President Sall's government has invited more civil society groups into political discussions (BTI 2014).
- US Department of State: Investment Climate Statement 2015 - Senegal.
- World Bank: Doing Business 2015.
- Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2015 - Senegal.
- World Economic Forum: The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015.
- US Department of State: Investment Climate Statement 2014 - Senegal.
- Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2014 - Senegal.
- World Economic Forum: Global Enabling Trade Report 2014.
- Freedom House: Freedom of the Press 2014 - Senegal.
- Bertelsmann Foundation: Transformation Index 2014.
- US Department of State: Human Rights Practices Report 2013 - Senegal.
- UNCTAD: Promoting Local IT Sector Development Through Public Procurement 2013.
- Transparency International: Global Corruption Barometer 2013.
- UEMOA: Road Governance Report, 2nd quarter 2013.
- Transparency International: 'Making mining more transparent: Senegal and Ukraine', 15 November 2013.
- GIABA: Tax Fraud and Money laundering in West Africa- A Human and Economic Development Perspective 2012.
- AfDB: Boarder Posts, Checkpoints, and Intra-African Trade: Challenges and Solutions 2012.