For several years now, I have been dedicated to my native country, Senegal. I have been able to observe the extreme dynamism of its living forces, and I have witnessed the development of a desire to undertake among its youth. However, they are not always provided with the tools they need to emancipate themselves. This is why I am in the process of setting up a support policy, in connection with my various professional activities.
This new initiative on my part is meant to strengthen public action in this field, by acting as a complement to those already carried out by public agencies.
Thus, through my actions in the world of entrepreneurship, I am henceforth in a position to give back what Senegal has given me, and to bring real perspectives to Senegalese youth.
The WAE project and the energy issue in Senegal
The issue of energy (and more broadly of energy independence) is one of the main concerns of our country. How can we succeed in giving everyone what is rightfully theirs, in a country that is still too prone to energy underperformance?
As an illustration, the study conducted by Ahmadou Said Ba in 2018 shows the significant gap between the country’s production capacity and that of neighbouring countries such as Morocco. While Senegal’s existing production capacity in 2015 was 843 MW (including 489 MW in thermal power plants managed by SENELEC), Morocco had 10 times more capacity at the time, with a reach equivalent to 8261.7 MW. A few years later, in 2019, increases in the price of electricity caused concern among local populations, particularly in rural areas hardest hit by these phenomena. Today, according to data reported by the African edition of the newspaper La Tribune, the “electricity crisis” affects these poor regions more than ever, where 58% of households have real difficulties in getting connected.
Faced with such a situation, it was clear that the private sector had a card to play. I joined the West Africa Energy (WAE) consortium in 2020, with the purpose of financing the creation of a 300 MW power plant. This group of players also includes other personalities such as Samuel SARR, Arouna DIA and Abdoulaye DIA. The power plant will thereby be 85% owned by private national assets, and 15% by SENELEC.
I myself am very proud of this project. We are showing the world that Senegal can count on its sons. Moreover, this power plant is part of the national economic recovery post-Covid. For the youth of our country, it is a great opportunity for job creations, with the possibility of developing many valuable skills in the fields of energy, but also of safety: this is why I have also invested in the creation of an academy specialised in continuous HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) training. The “Der MondAcademy” should thus ultimately make it possible to stimulate the employability of Senegalese personnel, but also to support the growth of local companies.
The promising sectors of agriculture and fishing industry
Our country is historically a land of agriculture. For years, this sector has employed many Senegalese, who also fully participate in our independence and food sovereignty. Today, the challenge facing our nation is to move closer to a form of food self-sufficiency. I believe there are three challenges that Senegal must meet in the coming years:
- Water supply control: although the African continent has significant natural resources, access to drinking water is still a problem, especially in rural areas.
- Modernization of artisanal fishing industry’s infrastructures: The country’s fishermen have contributed to making this industry a heavyweight in the national economy, covering 75% of the population’s animal protein needs. Nevertheless, the players of this market were facing an ageing of their production tools. It is in this context that I agreed, on the 26th April 2021, on a partnership agreement designed to sustainably transform the entire sector and its equipment. The artisanal fishing Modernisation Programme should thus benefit nearly one million Senegalese craftsmen. It should be remembered that fishing in Senegal is responsible for over 100,000 direct jobs and 600,000 related jobs (15% of the population).
- Lastly, farmer training: this aspect has been of particular concern to me for many years. This is why, in 2013, I entered into a ten-year collaboration with the Feed the Future initiative of the United States Agency for International Development. Altogether, almost 12 billion CFA francs were invested in the agricultural sector and for the benefit of producers, especially in the Senegal River Valley. Through Locafrique, we support young Senegalese entrepreneurs with projects in high-potential sectors such as agriculture.
My commitment to building and housing
Housing is another essential dimension of growth and development in Senegal. Many of our citizens still live in difficult conditions, with great disparities in access to services. However, the State has been using several levers for many years to try and improve the living environment of the population. The five-year “100,000 homes programme” announced should allow the construction of 20,000 homes by the end of the year. This ambitious objective should make it possible to eradicate shanty towns by 2035 and accelerate the supply of decent housing accessible to all.
Through Locafrique and its various subsidiaries, we operate in several sectors of the Senegalese economy, including real estate. I am therefore particularly pleased with the agreement that was concluded at the beginning of 2021 with the government as part of the 100,000 housing project, which provides for the provision of decent housing for our fellow citizens.
Overall, we have proposed to commit 20 billion over the next two years, through the Real Estate Investment Company (S2I). For young Senegalese, this new initiative in the real estate sector should generate nearly one million jobs over the next five years.
My role in health and health care institutions
The Covid-19 epidemic is unfortunately still inexorably spreading. This disease has hit our country hard. As everywhere in the world, it has put our medical infrastructures and personnel to the test. The magnitude and extent of the pandemic has created difficulties in hospital care due to the influx of Covid patients in large numbers.
The Senegalese Association of Emergency Physicians (ASMU) reported the following situation in a recent press release: “For the past nine months, the health system in Senegal has been put to the test and health care personnel are physically and psychologically exhausted.
For a long time now, I have dreamed of helping the public authorities to enhance the provision of healthcare in Senegal. The health crisis that our country has been going through for several months fully justifies our dedication to the service of medical actors. This is why we have taken the decision to provide Senegal and the sub-region with a high-level private hospital that meets international quality standards. This initiative should make it possible to improve the health care offer in the country, with the development of a multidisciplinary reference centre and new services expected by the population, particularly in the field of surgery and outpatient care. In parallel with these activities, I am also involved with the “Keur jaambar Yi” centre, which helps war wounded and disabled people. Thanks to our funding, the socio-medical centre now has new resources to renew its equipment.
Health, land, agriculture, aquaculture, energy – these basic needs must be met in order to ensure that future entrepreneurs have the balance they need to fulfil their ambitions. I remain wholly committed to serving the Senegalese people, especially young people, who need to be able to undertake their business in peace, with the guarantee of financial and logistical support at the right time. In my opinion, youth is our strength, it builds the future of the country. My objectives are to promote the inclusion of populations that are far from entrepreneurship and to allow everyone to undertake in complete peace of mind. As the famous Italian humanist thinker of the Renaissance, Machiavelli rightly said: “Where there is great will, difficulties decrease“.