From migration to entrepreneurship, a bright future for Senegal

Romain Guns
24 September 2018
As is generally known, Senegal, like many of its neighbouring countries, is falling victim to a deadly large-scale migratory movement. To counter this unconscious phenomenon, multiple field initiatives such as the PARERBA-project of the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation (Enabel) are arising in the country.

Aida Seck, a young Senegalese graduate of the University of Paris, asked herself in an interview with the newspaper De Tijd the following question: “How can Senegal become a prosperous country if everyone is leaving it?”

Indeed, migration is one of the major problems in the groundnut basin area.  Blinded by preconceived ideas about how easily and quickly money can be made on the old continent, almost all Senegalese youngsters want to move to Europe, sometimes even at the risk of their lives. And yet  the Senegalese economy is not in a bad shape, on the contrary. The economic growth amounts to  6 to 7 % per year, but unfortunately it does not keep pace with population growth. For young people under 25 who are ready for anything, migrating to Europe remains a way of living a more comfortable life than the previous generations, even if it means suffering abuse, imprisonment, humiliation or maltreatment.

However, a new philosophy has recently emerged : invest in the country to make it better. This is Senegal's national migration policy (politique nationale de migration du Sénégal - PNMS), designed in line with the vision of the Emerging Senegal Plan (Plan Sénégal Émergent -PSE) to make Senegal a key country in terms of solidarity and a model of the rule of law by 2025. Effective governance of migration issues and maximizing the benefits of migration can lead to sustainable development. However, serious inequalities in development between countries, structural insecurity in certain regions, unemployment and poverty remain factors that fuel various migration processes.

The migration phenomenon will remain a prevailing trend of our time and a complex and multidimensional equation that should be apprehended with lucidity at both the national and international levels.

Direction générale de la planification et des politiques économiques (DGPPE)

Awareness raising

For this reason, associations such as “Saloum Rapatak” raise awareness about the risks of migration. Combating misinformation and raising awareness of the risks of exile are among its objectives. There is indeed a great lack of information among the Senegalese population on the dangers of migration but also on the different opportunities the country offers. The objective is for Senegalese people to stay and invest in their own country. They can work the land, raise livestock, grow peanuts, corn or millet. It is important for young people to be aware of the reality of exile and to understand that future perspectives in Senegal are possible!

That is how the project “PARERBA” or “how to succeed here..., at home...” came into being. Signed between Enabel - the Belgian agency for development cooperation - and the European Union, this €18 million financing agreement enables actions to be carried out to meet the various challenges of irregular migration and forced displacement. This horticultural project, for example, employs more than a hundred villagers of Keur Samba Gueye growing onions, lettuce, tomatoes or eggplants on their own land. With the aim of curbing rural emigration and enhancing economic opportunities, the project is based on two strategic axes: increasing the production and productivity of farms and promoting rural entrepreneurship among young people in the intervention areas. The project in question should facilitate access to skills and vocational training and to the financing of productive projects. It should be noted that in addition to agricultural investments, the PARERBA project has also implemented the “Champs Ecole Paysans” scheme with its technical partner, the Agence Nationale du Conseil Agricole et Rural (ANCAR). This allows young producers to integrate new agricultural know-how and skills.

With the aim of curbing rural emigration and enhancing economic opportunities, the project is based on two strategic axes: increasing the production and productivity of farms and promoting rural entrepreneurship among young people in the intervention areas.

Two women are weighing a quantity of cereals.

In conclusion, better territorial and socio-economic knowledge of Senegal and modalities for cooperation between the different stakeholders are needed. It is important today to invest in the training of young people and this is what the Belgian agency wants above all to stimulate in Senegal with its projects targeting groups of qualified young people to encourage them to invest in their country for a better future. We must rely on the many returns of migrants from European countries and the sub-region because this diaspora is, according to many, a carrier of development initiatives for their countries of origin.

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