By Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Ms. Oureye Sall, Jeong Won-shik
BBC reported on April 4, 2020: “Senegal has cancelled giant celebrations to mark its 60th Anniversary of Independence because of coronavirus. The West African nation has 140 active cases of Covid-19, 66 people have recovered and one person has died over the last month. Senegal has become one of the countries in Africa leading the fight against coronavirus.” Korea is rated as a model country in the world in properly controlling the CORONA cases and so is considered Senegal. At this juncture, The Korea Post, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news media since 1958, recently had an exclusive interview with Ambassador Mamadou Guyeye Faye of Senegal in Seoul.
Senegal won her independence in 1960 and is widely known for the transfer of government through democratic elections.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Senegal, thus, is respected as a model democratic country for the peaceful transfer of government through democratic elections.
In such a favorable political environment, the Senegalese government is actively pushing forward with an active development program under the slogan of “Plan Senegal Emergent” which the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs translated Busang Haneun Senegal Gyehoek (부상하는 세네갈 계획), which means: “Senegal Plan Soars Sky-high!”
Excerpts from the interview with Ambassador Faye follow:
Question: The Corona disease is playing havoc to Korea and many other countries of the world? How is it in your country? And how well is it handled?
Answer: Senegal registered its first case of infection with the COVID-19 on March 2, 2020. Before this date, significant measures have been taken at the airports and other gates of entry into the national territory for the purpose of prevention of the disease. Once the country was reached, these measures were reinforced by the mobilization of medical personnel, the campaigns for public awareness, as well as the application of a better border surveillance system through the screening of passengers coming from various countries.
On March 14, with the registration of new cases of infection on the national territory, the Head of State addressed the Nation to announce new measures which are:
- prohibition of any public gathering;
- closing of schools and universities for a period of three weeks;
- cancellation of the events for the celebration of the Independence day, scheduled for April 4;
- strengthening the health human resources and defense and security forces;
- support and solidarity for the Senegalese abroad;
- cancellation of formalities related to Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.
Despite these new measures, the number of the confirmed cases have increased to 71. This situation prompted the President of the Republic to deliver a second message, on March 23, to announce a second category of measures among which the most important are:
- declaration of the state of emergency all over the country, with a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.;
- total confinement, in accommodation facilities, of 1561 people considered as contact cases;
- mobilization of a fund of 1000 billion to support the economy and households with the provision of 50 billion (revised to 69 billion later) to support the most vulnerable families in basic necessities.
These measures, while imposing a certain rigor with a significant restriction of public freedoms, notably freedom of movement, take into account the structure of our economy dominated by the informal sector for more than 60% in terms of contribution to the GDP.
They could change depending on the level of contamination of the infection.
Q: What are the important developments scheduled between Korea and your country, including the possible visit of your Head of Government to Korea?
A: Thanks to the excellent relations existing between our two countries, Korea has supported Senegal in the financing of several projects such as the construction of fishing docks, transport vessels, dredging vessels for the Casamance River, the Senegal River and the inlet of Sine Saloum, the purchase of a large number of refrigerated trucks, the construction and equipment of the International Oncology Center of Diamniadio, the construction of the Higher Institute of Professional Education (ISEP) of Diamniadio, construction of military equipment etc.
Important projects are also on the horizon and will not be long in coming thanks to the reciprocal commitment of the heads of state of the two countries. Besides, His Excellency Macky SALL accepted the invitation of his Korean counterpart, His Excellency MOON Jae-In to take part in the P4G summit scheduled on June 29 and 30, 2020 in Seoul. This visit will also strengthen the quality of the already excellent relations of cooperation existing between the two countries.
Q: Who are the most widely known Korean business leaders in your country. Which Korean companies are most popular in your country?
A: The Korean private sector is well represented in Senegal: DONGWON with CAPSEN and SCASA, Grand Bleu, DARLING, SENECOR, etc. However, in view of the existing potential, much can still be done in this direction. This is the reason why the Embassy is planning to organize, during the year, if all the conditions are met, an economic forum for the purpose, on the one hand, of presenting all the investment opportunities of our country in order to attract the maximum of Korean companies and, on the other hand, of introducing the Senegalese companies to the Korean companies to allow the development of fruitful partnerships between the two private sectors.
Q: What is the current volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Priority sectors for industrial investment targeted by Senegal are:
• Agriculture and agribusiness
Senegal is able to develop a wide range of agricultural products thanks to its diverse agro-ecological zones.
The country benefits from almost 4 million hectares of arable land available and suitable for agricultural production, as well as an excellent environment for agricultural production. A diversity of natural environments, spread over regional poles with specific characteristics (soil, climate, types of crops), characterizes the territory.
• Seafood and aquaculture
Many opportunities exist in the production and industrial processing of various marine species.
Companies in this sector are still looking for foreign partners to modernize their practices and increase production, including by using more modern and more environmentally friendly vessels.
Sixteen Korean companies are currently operating in the Senegalese fishing sector and doing very good business.
- The number of large companies investing in this sector is growing sharply due to its promising prospects.
The country is open to private investors for the development of traditional industries such as phosphate and cement, but also for the research and exploitation of gold, iron, marble in the region of eastern Senegal, as well as zircon and titanium in the region of Grande Côte
•Oil and gas
The explorations carried out in Senegal, since its independence in 1960, have led to significant discoveries in recent years in the oil and gas sector.
Thanks to its privileged geographical position and socio-political stability, mild climate and dynamism of diplomacy, Dakar has positioned itself in West Africa as the capital of business and congress tourism.
Thus, in terms of investment, real opportunities emerge, mainly, in the hotel and leisure sectors.
Besides these industrial sectors, Senegal also expects from the national and foreign private sector a significant participation in the investments in sectors such as infrastructure, housing, energy, education and ICT.
Q: When is your National Day? Please introduce in detail the National Day of your country.
A: The Independence Day of Senegal is celebrated on April 4 each year by a civil and military parade in which thousands of people, hundreds of motor vehicles and a few dozen horses.
This date refers to April 4, 1960, the anniversary of the signing of the agreements leading to the recognition of the independence of the Mali Federation. Indeed, it was on this date that Michel Debré, French Prime Minister of the time, Modibo Keita, President of the Mali Federation, and Mamadou Dia, Vice-President and Prime Minister of Senegal, have signed the agreements for the transfer of powers from the French Community to Senegal and the Sudanese Republic.
Thus, was born in 1959, the Mali Federation regrouping Senegal and the French Sudan (current Mali). But the agreement between the neighbors did not last because of internal differences. From this moment, the two newly independent countries separately choose a date to commemorate their independence.
Proclaimed on April 4, 1960, Independence Day is celebrated in the country's major cities. It is a public holiday for public and private administrations. School parties and some side events are also organized.
Senegal celebrated its independence for the first time on April 4, 1961. Since then, this tradition has been perpetuated by the presidents Léopold Sédar Senghor (1960-1980), Abdou Diouf (1981-2000), Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012) and Macky SALL (since 2012).
In Dakar, the military and paramilitary parade is generally held on the boulevard of General De Gaulle. The parade is organized by the defense and security forces.
The event is often associated with a presentation of decorations in the national orders, a civil parade, a quadrille of bayonets, the projection of a film on the history of the Senegalese Armed Forces, a motorized parade and an air parade.
For this year, due to the covid-19 pandemic currently raging around the world, the sixtieth (60th) anniversary of Senegal’s accession to international sovereignty will be celebrated through a symbolic ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including major achievements.
A: Biography of the President Macky SALL:
Youth and education : President Macky Sall was born on December 11, 1961 into a family of four siblings in Fatick(central western region of the country). He was raised in Fatick and in the Fouta region (in the north of Senegal). Student at the Faculty of Dakar then trained at the Institute of Earth Sciences of Dakar(IST), and graduated from the National School for Petroleum and Engines(ENSPM) of the French Petroleum Institute of Paris(IFP), he became a geological engineer then a geophysicist. He is member of several national and international associations of geologists and geophysicists.
Married to Marième Faye, President Macky SALL is the father of two sons and a daughter.
- Late 1980s: member of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS);
- December 2000 to July 2001: Chief Executive Officer of the Senegalese National Oil Company (PETROSEN) where he served as Head of the Database Division for multiple years as well as Special Advisor to the President in charge of Energy and Mines. ;
- May 2001 to November 2002: Minister of Mines, Energy and Hydraulics;
- November 2002 to August 2003: Minister of State, Minister of Mines, Energy and Hydraulics;
- August 2003 to April 2004: Minister of State, Minister of the Interior and Local Government and Spokesperson of the Government;
- April 2004: Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the PDS steering committee;
- June 2007: President of the National Assembly (XIth legislature);
- From March 2012: 4th President of the Republic of Senegal.
Foundation of the ‘Alliance for the Republic’ party (APR-Yaakaar) :
On November 9, 2008, Macky SALL left the PDS and resigned from all offices he held thanks to the party. On December 1, 2008, he founded, with around thirty ex-officials of the PDS, the party ‘Alliance for the Republic’, which won the local elections on March 22, 2009 in every municipality of the Fatick region, his stronghold. Through the coalition formed with the other parties belonging to the ‘Bennoo Siggil Sénégal’, the victory extended to the town of Gossas, twelve local communities in the North of the country, and three in the South, as well as all major cities of Senegal.
Having the 2012 presidential election ahead, Macky SALL crosses the Senegalese countryside and goes to meet the Diaspora around the world. In 2010, a survey placed him in the first place in Dakar and its region. Polyglot (Wolof, Serer, Pulaar, French and English), Macky SALL embodies the new generation of the Senegalese politics.
President of the Republic :
As a candidate of the “Macky 2012” coalition, he campaigned throughout the country under the slogan ‘the path to true development’, while keeping the lines open with the Opposition Movement of June 23 (M23). He took second place in the first round, with 26.58% of the votes against 34.81% for the incumbent President. Before the second round, he rallied all defeated candidates in the Benno Bokk Yakkar coalition (meaning ‘united for the same hope’ in the local language, Wolof) and won the election on March 25 over the incumbent. The outgoing President called Mr. Sall on the same evening to congratulate him before the results were officially proclaimed by the Constitutional Council (65.80% of the votes against 34.20% for the incumbent). Elected as the fourth (4th) President of the Republic of Senegal, he was sworn into office on April 2, 2012 at the King Fahd Palace hotel.
Main achievements :
In the light of his seven-year term, he is implementing his strategic development vision called Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE) in all public policies in Senegal. Tt highlights investment in major infrastructure, in particular the “Ila Touba” toll highway, the Regional Express Train (TER), the Diamniadio Sports Palace, the Sénégambie bridge, the completion of the construction of the new Blaise Diagne international airport and the creation of the Air Senegal SA company, as well as several solar power plants across the country.
These investments enabled the Senegalese economy to post 6.8% growth in 2018, compared to 4.4% in 2012, and to control inflation and budget deficit.
On a social level, President SALL is involved, among others, in the establishment of scholarships for poor families and Universal Health Coverage (CMU).
Re-elected on February 24, 2019, he was sworn into office in on April 2 and began his second term, which will end in 2024.
Decorations and other distinctions :
Grand Cross of the National Order of Lion;
Grand officer of the French Legion of Honor;
Grand Officer of the Order of the Pléiade de la Francophonie;
Grand Cross of the Order of the State of Palestine;
Dr Honoris Causa / University of Abomey Calvy, Benin;
Dr Horois Causa / Swiss University UMEF in Geneva, Switzerland;
Dr. Honoris Causa / Pukyong University in Busan, Republic of Korea;
Dr Honoris Causa / Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, (CNAM) France;
Honorary member of the French Academy of Overseas Sciences.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?
A: Senegal has a multitude of tourist, natural and historical attractions. Dakar, capital of the country, is a fun, colorful and cosmopolitan city, where you can get lost wandering in the best markets and bazaars in West Africa. You cannot miss the beaches on the coast of the city whith the best seafood restaurants and a lot of sun around the year. You can swim or go surfing on the rocking waves of the Almadies beach as Dakar is known for one of the best spot for surfing in Africa.
You could also spend a day on the Gorée Island, to learn about the history of slave-trade on the African continent by visiting the House of Slave, to stroll in the sunny and vivid car-free streets and to see the sand painting artists making live demonstration of their talent.
You could also make a one-day trip to the famous Retba Lake, most known as the Pink Lake, which is less than an hour away from Dakar. You will be amazed by the contrast among the mountains of salt packed up next to the lake’s shore, the pink color water of the lake due to the concentration of salt and the gold sand dunes on the other side of the Lake.
There is also the city of Saint-Louis, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2000. Saint-Louis is a city deeply rooted in history by both Africans and Europeans. With its many ancient buildings, beaches, palm trees, and a sunny climate, Saint-Louis is one of the places to appreciate the Senegalese specialty, Thieboudiene, a national dish meaning rice with fish. Coming back from Saint-Louis to Dakar is a perfect excuse to spend a day or two in the desert of Lompoul for sand trekking, camel riding and having dinner under the stars.
We also have a lot to offer for those who loves the wildlife. We have the National Park of Djoudj in the north which is a bird sanctuary where 300 species have been recorded, including pink flamingos and pelicans. The National Park of Niokolo-Koba, Senegal’s largest national park is home for lions, warthogs, monkeys and hippos and elephants.
A good way to end the trip is to spend a couple of days in Mbour or Saly near Dakar, to enjoy a beach holiday soaking up the sun and drinking a cold glass of bissap, a Senegalese juice perfect for the hot temperatures.