Senegal, a republic in West Africa. Senegal was named after the identically named river , which also forms the border with Mauritania. To the west of Senegal lie the Atlantic Ocean and Gambia. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north and by Mali in the east, whilst the neighboring states in the south are Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Enclosed within Senegal lies The Gambia.
Encompassing an area of about 200,000 km², Senegal is just half the size of Germany and has about 16.71 million inhabitants. Senegal has a particularly strong population growth of about 2.29% per year. In the west of the republic, on a peninsula, lies the capital city of Dakar, the most populous city in Senegal with about 1,150,000 inhabitants. However, about 80 % of the people live in more rural regions.
The Wolof are the largest people in Senegal, so Wolof is, next to the official language French, the most spoken language. Their singers and griots (professional singers, poets who recite texts as stories or lessons) are known far beyond the borders of Africa. They were able to preserve their own culture even during colonization and are almost exclusively Muslim. In addition to Muslim Senegalese, Christianity is also strongly represented (you can find an article on the topic of common fasting times in our ImpactBlog).
Senegal was conquered by Islam from the 9th century onwards. This led to the creation of Tekrur in Senegal, a large empire founded by the Serer people on the Senegal River. It developed into a large and significant trading center. The supremacy of the Tekrur passed to the Mali Empire in the 14th century. It was at this time that the first Portuguese sailors set out for the coast of West Africa. They were the harbingers of colonization, which had its beginnings in Senegal. However, the Portuguese were primarily interested in a gold trade independent of the Arabs. From the 17th century, the Portuguese trade network was replaced by French, Dutch and British colonies. The French had established bases in Saint Louis and on the Ile de Gorée and built slave prisons and schools. In these bases, the captured Africans were collected and taken to America in large galleys.
The various Wolof kingdoms were destroyed in the takeover. However, one people, the Serer, consistently rejected the takeover in central and western Senegal. The Serer are a farming people and are known for their blacksmithing skills.
Senegal became independent on August 20, 1960, a year after its foundation as a republic. The first president was Léopold Sédar Senghor, who had already fought for the country’s freedom under the French colonial administration. He presented the country with a new constitution in 1963 and, after vocal demands, carried out numerous democratic reforms in the years that followed.
Since the last elections in 2012, the government has been taken over by the rap musicians “Y’en a marre,” which means “We’re fed up.” They have managed to make the internationally known musician Youssou N’Dour the minister of education in today’s Senegal.
Senegal has few mineral resources. As a result, there is little industry in Senegal except for textile and food processing companies. Most people work in agriculture. Therefore, agriculture is a natural livelihood for the rapidly growing population and employs over two-thirds of the Senegalese. Smallholder farms grow millet, rice, cassava, potatoes, vegetables and cotton for subsistence. However, droughts, overgrazing and soil erosion pose particular challenges to the Senegalese and lead to reduced yields, leaving the country’s population unable to feed itself. Therefore, some food products have to be imported. Mainly from Nigeria, for example, fish, fish products and peanuts are imported.
Africa GreenTec cannot solve these problems overnight, of course, but we can make a small contribution to improving living conditions, for example through products such as PumpUP, a solar-powered pumping system for irrigating fields. This could bridge periods of drought in Senegal. Furthermore, our Cooltainer can also support people by making harvests last longer through refrigeration.
The economic challenges are also reflected in the country’s educational opportunities. Many young Senegalese have to support their families from an early age. As a result, few take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by universities. The few who do graduate tend to stay in the larger cities, go to other African countries or to France. This exacerbates the already widespread rural exodus.
It is not only the individuals who suffer from too few well-educated people, but also the country’s infrastructure, as there are also often not enough jobs for specialists. Africa GreenTec tries to empower people and to play a supporting role in building an infrastructure. That’s why we are moving our production facility to Dakar to create more local jobs. Our first Cooltainer ‘made in Africa’ has already been put into operation in the Senegalese village of N’diob (if you want to know more about N’diob, check out the other articles on our ImpactBlog).
Overall, Senegal has great potential, due to the steadily growing population, a large part of which is under 20 years old. The problem remains that many people are not offered the chance to develop their own and the communities’ potential. The chance to find work in their own village and thus not having to flee to the big cities for a job is often not given due to a lack of electricity and cooling infrastructure as well as too few economic opportunities. We at Africa GreenTec want to support the individual cultures of the Senegalese. We want to support the people, whether they are farmers, technicians or school children, in their activities and help them to achieve more self-determination.
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