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Cameroon

Executive Summary

Cameroon, the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), continues to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, growth has started to recover from a 2020 recession. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Cameroon’s gross domestic product (GDP) to increase by 4.6 percent in 2022. Cameroon’s current account balance also improved in 2021 and early 2022. The government continues to implement its 2020-2030 National Development Strategy and development projects, especially in road infrastructure, transport, energy, and health, albeit with delays. Cameroon utilized its hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament in early 2022 to hasten the completion of some long-awaited projects and promote Cameroon to investors.

Cameroon maintains strong competitive advantages because of a bilingual population, a relatively diversified economy, and its location as a gateway to the Central African region. It offers immense investment potential in infrastructure, extractive industries, consumer markets, and modern communication technology (for example, internet broadband, fiber optic cable, and data centers). However, Cameroon’s telecommunication infrastructure is overutilized and in need of upgrades, which often results in network outages. Agricultural processing and transport infrastructure, such as seaports, airports, and rail, need investments, especially for modernization and maintenance. More investment opportunities exist in the financial sector as only 15 percent of Cameroonians have access to formal banking services.

Corruption and weak governance structures continue to hamper Cameroon’s business climate.

The IMF approved a three-year, $689.5 million hybrid Extended Credit Facility-Extended Fund Facility arrangement in July 2021 to advance structural fiscal reforms, improve governance, and continue mitigating the health, economic, and social consequences of the pandemic while ensuring domestic and external sustainability. Cameroon’s 2022 budget aligns with its National Development Strategy and IMF program and sets a target to reduce the budget deficit from -3.2 percent in 2021 to -2 percent in 2022.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 144 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 123 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $-19 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $1,520 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

8. Responsible Business Conduct

U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of a formal definition of responsible business conduct (RBC) within the Cameroonian government. It does not have a national ombudsman for stakeholders to get information or raise concerns about RBC.  The government has not conducted a national action plan on RBC nor does it factor RBC into its procurement decisions. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are not aware of any recent high-profile instances of private sector impact on human rights. Cameroon does not have laws that regulate responsible business conduct. However, the government of Cameroon has enacted laws that cover issues related to what is locally considered corporate social responsibility. There are additional initiatives in the private sector to foster a corporate social responsibility culture.

All major infrastructure projects in Cameroon are compelled to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to establish the impact of projects on people and nature. Cameroon’s ESIA law strives to follow World Bank standards. An August 1996 master law related to environmental management prescribes an environmental impact assessment for all projects that can cause environmental degradation.

The Cameroonian government struggles to enforce laws in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection. There is little corporate governance law in Cameroon, mostly since very few companies are open to portfolio investment. The Business Council for Good Governance, the American Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, and Transparency International promote RBC in Cameroon, though their ability to monitor RBC is limited. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of any government efforts to adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Cameroon participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments are lacking.

The economy of Cameroon is modernizing, but most sectors experience disruptions from informal activities. The informal sector provides crucial livelihoods to the most vulnerable in urban environments; however, labor conditions are generally precarious. In the agricultural sector, the government estimates that 70 percent of labor is informal with instances of child labor in subsistence agriculture. In other sectors, for example mining, allegations of human or labor rights abuses by Chinese mining companies have surfaced in the recent past. Indigenous forest communities also complain the government does not enforce logging concession laws.

9. Corruption

Corruption is punishable under sections 134 and 134 (a) of the Pena1 Code of Cameroon. Despite these rules, corruption remains endemic in the country. In 2021, Cameroon ranked 144 of 180 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Anti-corruption laws are applicable to all citizens and institutions throughout the national territory. Article 66 of the constitution requires civil servants and elected officials to declare their assets and property at the beginning and at the end of their tenure of office, but it has never been enforced, since the adoption of the constitution in 1996. Similarly, the Civil Service Statute contains provisions and the procedures to be followed in the event of a conflict of interest. These provisions are enshrined in Law No. 003/2006 of April 25, 2006, which also created the Commission for the declaration of property and assets. Other codes of conduct in different public institutions have created gift registers to prevent bribes, but they are not implemented. In terms of public contracts, Decree No. 2018/0001/PM of January 5, 2018 created a portal called Cameroon Online E-procurement System (Coleps) for the digitalization, including application processing, award, and monitoring and evaluation of all tenders. Since the launch of the portal, technical issues and disregard by civil servants have curbed its effectiveness, leading to the parallel continuation of the bribe-prone paper-based procurement system. U.S. firms indicate that corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, award of licenses or concessions, transfers, performance requirements, dispute settlement, regulatory system, customs, and taxation.

Since its inception in 2006 (Presidential Decree No. 2006/088 of March 11, 2006), the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) has encouraged private companies to establish internal codes of conduct and ethics committees to review practices. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of how many companies have instituted either program. Bribery of government officials remains common. While some companies use internal controls to detect and prevent such bribery, U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of how widespread these internal controls are.

Cameroon is signatory to the United Nations and the African Union anti-corruption initiatives, but the international initiatives have limited practical effects on the enforcement of laws in the country. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of any NGO’s involvement in investigating corruption. The government prefers the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) to investigate potential cases.  U.S. companies cite corruption as among the top obstacles to investing in Cameroon and report its being most pervasive in government procurement, the award of licenses and concessions, customs, and taxation.

10. Political and Security Environment

Cameroon faces several security challenges. Violence by non-state armed groups against security forces and the local population is in its sixth year in the primarily English-speaking Southwest and Northwest Regions.  Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa continue to attack civilians and security forces in the Far North Region. In the Adamoua and East Regions, a wave of kidnappings and the presence of refugees from the Central African Republic has led to increased military presence. Terrorists and separatists alike have targeted economic assets and public infrastructure to effect political change.

In the Northwest and Southwest regions, leaders of non-state armed groups have claimed responsibility on social media for the killing of government officials, arsons that destroyed hospitals, schools, bridges, roads, and the seizure of state-run utilities. Non-state armed groups have also posted videos on social media of executions and beheadings of security officers while also claiming responsibility for multiple kidnappings for ransom of persons perceived to be against their cause. Human rights organizations and local citizens have accused soldiers and separatists of grave human rights abuses. In the Far North of Cameroon, Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa fighters have looted villages and cattle, kidnapped, and abused women. Consequently, several infrastructures projects have ground to a halt.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the labor market. Data from the National Institute of Statistics show that a large proportion of workers have seen a drastic reduction in wages (68 percent) and temporary job suspension (31.6 percent). Also, the unemployment rate reached 6.1 percent in 2021 according to the National Institute of Statistics.  Most of the youth who possess skills that could be used in the economy are under-employed in the informal sector. Under-employment, which is generally under-reported, has continued to hover around 75 percent for youth under 30. Most Cameroonians find occupation in the informal sector, where unskilled labor is prevalent, especially in the agricultural and service sectors, manufacturing, commerce, technical trades, and mid-management jobs.

Other structural problems in the labor market include the chronic shortage of technical trade skills, for example for maintenance and repair of industrial machinery, in every sector of the economy. Truck and automotive maintenance are widely practiced in the informal sector, while

rudimentary or artisanal agriculture, fishing, and textile manufacturing continue to hamper industrialization with unskilled labor.

The government of Cameroon does not require foreign companies to hire Cameroonian nationals. Foreign nationals are required, however, to obtain work permits prior to formal employment. While foreign nationals are automatically issued work permits for companies of the Industrial Free Zones regime, their number may not exceed 20 percent of the total work force of a company after the fifth year of operation in Cameroon.

Although union and contract agreements vary widely from sector to sector, in general, Cameroon functions as an “employment at will” economy, and labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. Layoffs are not caused by the fault of the employees and are often considered as alternative solutions to dismissing workers based on performance fault or economic grounds. There is no special treatment of labor in special economic zones, foreign trade zones, or free ports.

While the Labor Code applies to enterprises of the Industrial Free Zone regime, some matters are governed by special provisions under the 1990 law establishing Industrial Free Zones. These include the employer’s right to determine salaries according to productivity, free negotiation of work contracts, and automatic issuance of work permits for foreign workers. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security monitors labor abuses, health and safety standards, and other related issues, but enforcement is poor. Labor laws are waived within the framework of Industrial Free Zones to attract or retain investment. The waivers include the employer’s right to determine salaries according to productivity, free negotiation of work contracts, and automatic issuance of work permits for foreign nationals.

There are independent labor unions and others affiliated with the government that operate under existing laws and regulations. Over 100 trade unions and 12 union confederations are active in the country. However, the labor union movement is highly fractured and somewhat ineffective in promoting workers’ rights. Some union leaders accuse the government and company managers of promoting division within trade unions to weaken them, as well as protecting non-representative trade union leaders with whom they can negotiate more easily.

Cameroon’s labor dispute resolution mechanisms are outlined in the labor code. The procedure differs depending on whether the dispute is individual or collective. Individual disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the civil court dealing with labor matters in the place of employment or residence of the worker. The legal procedure is initiated after the labor inspector fails to settle the dispute amicably out of the court system. Settlement of collective labor disputes is subject to conciliation and arbitration, and any strike or lock-out started after the procedures have been exhausted and have failed is deemed legitimate. While the conciliation procedure is conducted by the labor inspector, arbitration of any collective dispute that has not been settled by conciliation is handled by an arbitration board, chaired by the competent judicial officer of the competent court of appeal. Workers who ignore procedures to conduct a legal strike can be dismissed or fined.

Strikes occur regularly and are generally repressed by the police, though they are often due to lack of payment by the employer (including when the employer is the government) and are resolved quickly. Recent strikes involved public sector employees. The National Potable Water Employee Union launched a strike in February 2022, citing management concerns of the state-owned water utility, CAMWATER. The union also cited concern about the absence of a plan for the construction of new water infrastructure, and a maintenance and rehabilitation plan for existing networks. In response, the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, who supervises CAMWATER, engaged the union directly in negotiations. In another public sector strike, teachers launched a broad, nation-wide strike in February 2022 to demand better working conditions and compensation for unpaid wages and benefits, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The government has called for dialogue and offered to pay a portion of the amount teachers demanded.

Cameroonian labor code lays down principles of labor laws regarding employment, dismissal, remedies for wrongful dismissal, compensation for industrial injuries, and trade unions.  But most jobs do not have binding contracts, and employers generally seem to have the upper hand in labor disputes. There is informality even in the formal sector, which is against the law. Because of this landscape, it is important for U.S. companies to ensure compliance with the local labor laws and to abide by international best practices. There were no new labor-related laws or regulations enacted during the last year.   U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of any pending draft bills.

The Cameroon National Institute of Statistics estimates that every sector has a level of informality. Likewise, the IMF estimates the informal economy contributes 20-30 percent to Cameroon’s GDP every year and provides jobs to 84 percent of the active working population. Additionally, informal employment comprises over 90 percent of the agricultural sector.

Prevalence of informality in the economy of Cameroon
  Key Sectors % of GDP Example of informality
1 Agriculture 19 Unlicensed transport
2 Transportation 5.3 Motorbike taxis/Cross border trade
3 Information, Communication Technology (ICT) 5 Maintenance, repair, retail market
4 Extractive industry (Oil, Gas, Mining) 9 Artisanal mining/cross border trade
5 Banking and Finance 8.5 Informal microfinance institutions
6 Services and consumer retail market 12 Support services/home workers
7 Utilities (Electricity, Water, domestic gas, waste disposal-management) 3.1 Maintenance and repair
8 Real Estate and Infrastructure Construction 10.8 Labor, rental activities
9 Manufacturing 4 Artisanal manufacturing
10 Health services and pharmaceuticals 1 Counterfeit medicine
11 Public Administration 8 Unlicensed institutions and labor
12 Tourism, media, and Leisure Unlicensed institutions and labor

(Source: Cameroon Ministry of Finance, Finance laws 2016-2020)

14. Contact for More Information

Christina Hardaway
Deputy Chief, Political-Economic Section
U.S. Embassy Yaounde
HardawayCED@state.gov 

Côte d’Ivoire

Executive Summary

Côte d’Ivoire (CDI) offers a welcoming environment for U.S. investment.  The Ivoirian government wants to deepen commercial cooperation with the U.S. The Ivoirian and foreign business community in CDI considers the 2018 investment code generous with welcome incentives and few restrictions on foreign investors.  Côte d’Ivoire’s resiliency to the COVID-19 crisis led to quick economic recovery.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth stayed positive at two percent in 2020 and rebounded to 6.5 percent in 2021, with government of CDI projecting average growth at 7.65 percent during the period 2021-2025.  International credit rating agency Fitch upgraded the country’s political risk rating in July 2021 from B+ to BB-, while the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) assessment confirms CDI’s economic resilience, despite the Omicron variant of COVID.  However, possible repetition of 2021 energy shortages, poor transparency, and delays in reforms could dampen confidence.

U.S. businesses operate successfully in several Ivoirian sectors including oil and gas exploration and production; agriculture and value-added agribusiness processing; power generation and renewable energy; IT services; the digital economy; banking; insurance; and infrastructure.  The competitiveness of U.S. companies in IT services is exemplified by one company that altered the local payment system by introducing a digital payment system that rapidly increased its market share, forcing competitors to lower prices.

Côte d’Ivoire is well poised to attract increased Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) based on the government’s strong response to the pandemic, the buoyancy of the economy, high-level support for private sector investment, and clear priorities set forth in the new 2021-2025 National Development Plan (PND – Plan National de Développement).  An important factor is Côte d’Ivoire’s resurgence as a regional economic and transportation hub.  Government authorities are continuing to implement structural reforms to improve the business environment, modernize public administration, increase human capital, and boost productivity and private sector development.  However, this will not come without challenges and uncertainties in the medium term, particularly regarding the evolution of the pandemic and global recovery as well as regulatory and transparency concerns.  Government authorities underscore their commitment to strengthening peace and security systems in the northern zone of the country, while striving for inclusive growth in the context of post-pandemic recovery.  Finally, recent political instability in northern and western neighboring countries Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, could impede investor confidence in the region, especially when it comes to security.

Doing business with the Ivoirian government remains a significant challenge in some areas such as procurement, taxation, and regulatory processes.  Some new public procurement procedures adopted in 2019 were only implemented in 2021, including implementation of an e-procurement module, and improved evaluation, prioritization, selection, and monitoring procedures.  This is a work in process, and concerns remain that these procedures are not consistently and transparently applied.  Similar concerns circulate about tax procedures, especially retroactive assessments based on changes in tax formulas.  An overly complicated tax system and slow, opaque government decision-making processes hinder investment.  Government has identified VAT (Value Added Tax), mining, digitalization, and property taxes as key areas for broadening the tax base and improving state revenues.  Other challenges include low levels of literacy and income, weak access to credit for small businesses, corruption, and the need to broaden the tax base to relieve some of the tax-paying burden on businesses.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings 
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 105 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 110 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2021 114 of 131 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 -$495 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $2,280 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Companies owned or controlled by the state are subject to national laws and the tax code.  The Ivoirian government still holds substantial interests in many firms, including the refinery SIR (49 percent), the public transport firm (60 percent), the national television station RTI (98 percent), the national lottery (80 percent), the national airline Air Côte d’Ivoire (58 percent), and the land management agency Agence de Gestion Foncière AGEF (35 percent).  Total assets of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were $796 million and total net income of SOEs was $116 million in 2018 (latest figures).  Of the 82 SOEs, 28 are wholly government-owned and 12 are majority government-owned, the government owns a blocking minority in seven and holds minority shares in 35.  Each SOE has an independent board.  The government has begun the process of divestiture for some SOEs (see next section).  There are active SOEs in the banking, agri-business, mining, and telecom industries.

The published list of SOEs is available at https://dgpe.gouv.ci/ind ex.php?p=portefeuille_etat

SOEs competing in the domestic market do not receive non-market-based advantages from the government.  They are subject to the same tax burdens and policies as private companies.

Côte d’Ivoire does not adhere to OECD guidelines for SOE corporate governance (it is not a member of OECD).

In 2021, audits of several SOEs highlighted serious irregularities (alleged embezzlement estimated at several tens or even hundreds of billions of FCFA, i.e. up to hundreds of millions of dollars.  The SOEs include FER, FDFP, ARTCI, and ANSUT, whose leaders have been removed and replaced.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector, the government, NGOs, and local communities are becoming progressively aware of the importance of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) regarding environmental, social, and governance issues in CDI.

Investors seeking to implement projects in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, waste management, and extractive industries are required by decree to provide an environmental impact study prior to approval.  Under the new development plan and sustainable finance regime, government has laid down specific criteria to review, select, fund, and monitor private investment with the goal of channeling funds into priority sectors.  Foreign businesses, particularly in mining, energy, and agriculture, often provide social infrastructure, including schools and health care clinics, to communities close to their sites of operation.  Companies are not required under Ivoirian law to disclose information relating to RBC, although many companies, especially in the cocoa sector, publicize their work.  Cocoa companies publicize efforts to improve sustainability and combat the worst forms of child labor.  As a part of public-procurement reform, the Ministry of Budget plans to include social needs in public-procurement contracts to support job creation, fair trade, decent working conditions, social inclusion, and compliance with social standards.  On the environment, suggested reforms include the selection of goods and services that have a smaller impact on the environment.

There are reports of children subjected to forced labor in agricultural work, particularly on cocoa farms.  In February 2021, several individuals from Mali sued major international chocolate companies, claiming that the cocoa they bought came from farms in Côte d’Ivoire where the plaintiffs were subjected to abuse.

The government, through the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection, sets workplace health and safety standards and is responsible for enforcing labor laws.

The OHADA outlines corporate governance standards that protect shareholders.

There are government-funded agencies in charge of monitoring business conduct.  Human rights, environmental protection, and other NGOs report misconduct and violations of good governance practices.

Côte d’Ivoire participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and discloses revenues and payments in the oil, gas, and mineral sectors.  More information can be found at: www.cnitie.ci/.

Côte d’Ivoire is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.  Some private security companies operating in the country are participants of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association (ICoCA).

This year, government took active measures against State Owned Enterprises not paying their local contractors, generally SMEs.  After the FER general manager was removed, the acting manager made immediate payments to concerned SMEs.

9. Corruption

Many companies cite corruption as the most significant obstacle to investment.  Corruption in many forms is deeply ingrained in public- and private-sector practices and remains a serious impediment to investment and economic growth in CDI.  It has the greatest impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues.  Lack of transparency and the government’s failure to follow its own tendering procedures in the awarding of contracts lead businesses to conclude bribery was involved.  Businesses have reported encountering corruption at every level of the civil service, with some judges appearing to base their decisions on bribes. Clearance of goods at the ports often requires substantial “commissions.”  The demand for bribes can mean that containers stay at the Port of Abidjan for months, incurring substantial demurrage charges, despite companies having the proper paperwork.

In 2013, the Ivoirian government issued Executive Order number 2013-660 related to preventing and combatting corruption.  The High Authority for Good Governance serves as the government’s anti-corruption authority.  Its mandate includes raising awareness about corruption, investigating corruption in the public and private sectors, and collecting mandated asset disclosures from certain public officials (e.g., the president, ministers, and mayors) upon entering and leaving office.  The High Authority for Good Governance, however, does not have a mandate to prosecute; it must refer cases to the Attorney General who decides whether to take up those cases.  The country’s financial intelligence office, CENTIF, has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials.

Despite the establishment of these bodies and credible allegations of widespread corruption, there have been few charges filed, and few prosecutions and judgments against prominent people for corruption.  The domestic business community generally assesses that these watchdog agencies lack the power and/or will to combat corruption effectively.  In April 2021, the government formally added Good Governance and Anti-Corruption to the title and portfolio of the Ministry of Capacity Building.

Côte d’Ivoire ratified the UN Anti-Corruption Convention, but the country is not a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (which is open to non-OECD members).  In 2016, Côte d’Ivoire joined the Partnership on Illicit Finance, which obliges it to develop an action plan to combat corruption.

Under the Ivoirian Penal Code, a bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a criminal act. Some private companies use compliance programs or measures to prevent bribery of government officials.  U.S. firms underscore to their Ivoirian counterparts that they are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials and to political parties.  The country’s Code of Public Procurement No. 259 and the associated WAEMU directives cover conflicts-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

There are no special protections for NGOs involved in investigating corruption.  Whistleblower protections are also weak.

Resources to Report Corruption

Inspector General of Finance
(Brigade de Lutte Contre la Corruption)
Mr. Lassina Sylla
Inspector General
TELEPHONE: +225 20212000/2252 9797
FAX: +225 20211082/2252 9798
HOTLINE: +225 8000 0380
http://www.igf.finances.gouv.ci/
info@igf.finances.gouv.ci

High Authority for Good Governance
(Haute Autorité pour la Bonne Gouvernance)
Mr. N’Golo Coulibaly
President
TELEPHONE: +225 272 2479 5000
FAX: +225 2247 8261
https://habg.ci/
Email: info@habg.ci

Police Anti-Racketeering Unit
(Unité de Lutte Contre le Racket –ULCR)
Mr. Alain Oura
Unit Commander
TELEPHONE: +225 272 244 9256
info@ulcr.ci

Social Justice
(Initiative pour la Justice Sociale, la Transparence et la Bonne Gouvernance en Côte d’Ivoire)
Ananeraie face pharmacie Mamie Adjoua
Abidjan
TELEPHONE:  +225 272 177 6373
socialjustice.ci@gmail.com

10. Political and Security Environment

Following peaceful and inclusive legislative elections in March 2021, CDI entered a period of stability.  Major opposition parties participated and won a meaningful number of seats in elections internationally deemed credible.  The political leadership clearly recognizes that internal and regional security are prerequisites for sustained economic growth and longer-term stability.  All political parties participated in a structured Political Dialogue aimed at fostering reconciliation and strengthening democratic institutions, including dispute resolution mechanisms.  The fifth round of the Political Dialogue concluded in March 2022 and produced a consensus list of tangible recommendations to the President of the Republic.  The next presidential election is not due until 2025, so there is now a window of opportunity for the country’s political leaders to focus on difficult reforms.

The Ivoirian government has demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing insecurity in the region by strengthening its capacity to counter terrorism, strengthen social resilience, professionalize law enforcement, strengthen its justice system, and improve border security.  In June 2021, CDI and France inaugurated the International Academy for the Fight Against Terrorism (AILCT) near Jacqueville, west of Abidjan. The aim of this academy is to train relevant cadres (e.g., prosecutors, forensic investigators) and security forces from the African continent to strengthen capacity to prevail against self-styled jihadists within respect for law and human rights, thereby reinforcing ties between the population and the state.  This comes at a time of increased security challenges emanating from the Sahel and spilling over into CDI’s northern region.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The official unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, 5.5 percent in the 15-24 age group; however, unemployment is difficult to measure in the informal sector, which is estimated to account for as much as 80 percent of the Ivoirian economy.  Of the non-agricultural workforce, 47 percent is employed in the informal economy.  Official statistics fail to fully account for the large informal economy throughout the country, and do not accurately portray the general dearth of well-paying employment opportunities.  Despite the government’s efforts, child labor remained a widespread problem in rural and urban areas, notably on cocoa and coffee plantations, as well as in artisanal gold mining areas and in domestic work.

There are significant shortages of skilled labor in fields requiring higher education, including information technology, engineering, finance, management, health, and science.  The Ivoirian government is working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to build and develop four technical and vocational training centers as part of a six-year Compact valued at some $536 million that will end in August 2025. The Compact comprises two projects: road transportation and education.

Labor laws favor the employment of Ivoirians in private enterprises.  Any vacant position must be advertised for two months.  If after two months no qualified Ivoirian is found, the employer may recruit a foreigner provided it plans to recruit an Ivoirian to fill the position within the next two years.

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment in response to fluctuating market conditions.  Employees terminated for reasons other than theft or flagrant neglect of duty have the right to termination benefits.  Unemployment insurance and other social-safety programs exist for employees laid off for economic reasons.  For the roughly 60-80% percent of workers employed in the informal sector, unemployment insurance is not an option.  However, there are other social-safety-net programs that apply to informal economy workers, including monthly stipends and waiving of universal health care fees.

Labor laws are not waived to attract or retain investment.

Collective bargaining agreements are in effect in many major business enterprises and sectors of the civil service.  A prolonged teachers’ strike in 2019 was submitted for arbitration but due to the fractured nature of the teachers’ unions, not all parties agreed to the decision.

Labor disputes are submitted to the labor inspector for amicable settlement before engaging in any legal proceedings.  If this attempt to settle the dispute fails, then the labor court can be engaged to resolve the dispute.

No strike has posed an investment risk during the last year.

There are no gaps between Ivoirian and international labor standards in law or practice that pose a reputational risk to investors.

The government did not adopt any new labor-related laws or regulations in 2021.  In 2017, the government passed a law forbidding most forms of child labor for children under 12 and restricting it for minors aged 13 to 17.  The law’s passage put Ivoirian law on par with ILO standards for child labor.  The government established the National Surveillance Council (Conseil National de Surveillance, or CNS) and the Interministerial Committee (CIM – Conseil Interministériel). These agencies deal with child labor issues, especially in the cocoa sector.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2020 $61,349 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 -$1 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 2.1% UNCTAD data available at

https://stats.unctad.org/handbook/EconomicTrends/
Fdi.html    

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI 
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $11,997 Total Outward $2,520
France $2,532 21.1% Burkina Faso $426 16.9%
Canada $1,217 10.1% Mali $246 9.8%
United Kingdom $986 8.2% Liberia $227 9%
Morocco $801 6.7% Ghana $180 7.1%
Mauritius $664 5.5% Benin $177 7%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

14. Contact for More Information

U.S. Embassy Abidjan
Political/Economic Section
Cocody Riviera Golf
BP 730 Abidjan Cidex 03
Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
Phone: (+225) 27-22-49-40-00

Senegal

Executive Summary

Senegal’s stable democracy, relatively strong economic growth, and open economy offer attractive opportunities for foreign investment. Senegal’s macroeconomic environment remains generally stable, although aggressive measures to counter the economic impact of COVID-19 and rising commodity costs are pushing public debt to nearly 70 percent of GDP, the internal debt distress threshold of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The currency – the CFA franc used in eight West African countries – is pegged to the Euro and remains stable.

The Government of Senegal (GOS) welcomes foreign investment and has prioritized efforts to improve the business climate, and many companies choose Senegal as a base for operations in Francophone Africa. Since 2012, Senegal has pursued an ambitious development program, the Plan Senegal Emergent (Emerging Senegal Plan, or “PSE”), to improve infrastructure, achieve economic reforms, increase investment in strategic sectors, and strengthen private sector competitiveness. The GOS expanded the “single window” system to provide services to companies, opening new service centers across the country, harmonizing more than 60 GOS websites, and digitizing dozens of government services and payment mechanisms. The national digital agency, ADIE, plans to lay 4,500 kilometers of additional fiberoptic cable to increase internet access. Senegal has plans to transition power plants from fuel oil to domestic natural gas starting in 2023, when two recently discovered oil and gas fields come online. A new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) law entered into force in November 2021, modernizing and clarifying PPP procedures and encouraging local content.

With good air transportation links, a modern airport, expanding seaports, availability of mobile money and other financial technologies, and improving ground transportation, Senegal aims to become a regional commercial and services hub. Three Special Economic Zones offer investors tax exemptions and other benefits. Repatriation of capital and income is generally straightforward, although the regional central bank sometimes limits the number of “offshore accounts” for companies registered in Senegal and engaged in project finance. Although some companies report problems, Senegal scores favorably on corruption indicators compared to other countries in the region.

Despite Senegal’s many advantages, significant challenges remain. Investors at times cite burdensome and unpredictable tax administration, complex customs procedures, bureaucratic hurdles, opaque public procurement practices, an inefficient judicial system, inadequate access to financing, and a rigid labor market as obstacles. High real estate and energy costs, as well as high costs of inputs for manufacturing, also constrain Senegal’s competitiveness. High levels of unemployment and underemployment, especially among the country’s large youth population, represent a long-term macroeconomic challenge.

A U.S.-Senegal Bilateral Investment Treaty went into effect since 1990. Senegal’s stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) increased from $3.4 billion in 2015 to $6.4 billion in 2019, according to UNCTAD data. U.S. investment in Senegal has expanded since 2014, including investments in power generation, renewable energy, industry, and offshore oil and gas. The IMF reports that U.S. FDI stock in Senegal was approximately $114 million in 2019 (Table 1; up from $91 million in 2018). Although France is historically Senegal’s largest source of FDI, China overtook France as Senegal’s largest bilateral trade partner in 2019. Turkish economic influence is also rising, particularly in construction. Other important investment partners include Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf States, as well as the EU. Sectors attracting substantial investment include petroleum and natural gas, agribusiness, mining, tourism, manufacturing, and fisheries.

Investors can consult Senegal’s investment promotion agency (APIX) at www.investinsenegal.com  for information on opportunities, incentives, and procedures for foreign investment, including a copy of Senegal’s investment code.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 73 of 180 Transparency International  
Global Innovation Index 2021 105 of 131 Global Innovation Index 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2019 $114.0 million U.S. Foreign Direct Investment 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $1,430 World Bank Gross National Income 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Senegal has generally reduced government involvement in SOEs during the last three decades. However, the GOS still owns full or majority interests in 24 SOEs, including the national electricity company (Senelec), Dakar’s public bus service, the Port of Dakar, National Post, the national rail company, and the national water utility. Senelec retains control over power transmission and distribution, but it relies increasingly on independent producers to generate power. The GOS has also retained control of the national oil company, PETROSEN, which is involved in hydrocarbon exploration in partnership with foreign oil companies and operates a small refinery dependent on government subsidies. The GOS has modest and declining ownership of agricultural enterprises, including one involved in rice production. In 2018, the government revived the state-owned airline, Air Senegal. The GOS also owns a minority share in Sonatel-Orange Senegal, the country’s largest internet and mobile communications provider.

The Direction du Secteur Parapublic, an agency within the Ministry of Finance, manages the government’s ownership rights in SOEs. The GOS’s budget includes financial allocations to these enterprises, including subsidies to Senelec. SOE revenues are not projected in budget documents, but actual revenues are included in quarterly reports published by the Ministry of Finance. Senegal’s supreme audit institution (the Cour des Comptes) conducts audits of the public sector and SOEs.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Following the lead of foreign companies, some Senegalese firms have begun adopting corporate social responsibility programs and responsible business conduct standards. However, this movement is not yet widespread.

Senegal’s 2016 Mining Code specifies the criteria and procedures by which the government awards natural resource extraction contracts or licenses. The code requires mining companies to participate in transparency reporting following the guidelines of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The GOS appears to follow the Mining Code and its implementing regulations in practice, although unregulated artisanal mining is common in some areas. Basic information on awards was publicly available online through the government’s official journal, and included details regarding geographic areas, resources under development, companies involved, and the duration of contracts. In January 2019, the government adopted a new Petroleum Code, which clarifies mechanisms for reserving revenues from oil and gas projects to the government. Senegal has been an active member of the EITI since 2013. In May 2018, the EITI Board declared Senegal the first country in Africa to have made “satisfactory progress” in implementing EITI standards. In October 2019, Senegal hosted the 41st quarterly meeting of the EITI Board, along with a conference on EITI implementation in Africa. The government’s EITI committee reports directly to the President.

9. Corruption

Senegalese law provides criminal penalties for corruption. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (OFNAC) has a mandate to enforce anti-corruption laws. In January 2020, OFNAC released overdue reports on its activities for 2017 and 2018 and swore in six new executive-level officials, bringing its managing board to a full complement for the first time in several years. A 2014 law requires the President, cabinet ministers, speaker and chief financial officer of the National Assembly, and managers of public funds more than one billion CFA francs (approximately $1.8 million) to disclose their assets to OFNAC. In 2020, all but one of these government officials complied with these disclosure requirements.

The GOS has made limited progress in improving its anti-corruption efforts. The current administration has mounted corruption investigations against several public officials (primarily the President’s political rivals) and has secured several convictions. In July 2020, President Sall launched an initiative to enforce a requirement that cabinet members and other high-level officials disclose their assets and issued a report disclosing his own personal assets.

The GOS has also taken steps to increase budget transparency in line with regional standards. Senegal ranked 73 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index. Notwithstanding Senegal’s positive reputation for corruption relative to regional peers, the government often did not enforce the law effectively, and some officials continued to engage in corrupt practices with impunity. Reports of corruption ranged from rent-seeking by bureaucrats involved in public approvals to opaque public procurement to corruption in the police and judiciary. Allegations of corruption against President Sall and his brother related to the development of oil and gas emerged in the press in 2019. While a subsequent investigation did not uncover wrong-doing, suspicions of high-level government corruption remain among many in civil society and the political opposition.

Senegal’s financial intelligence unit, Cellule Nationale de Traitement des Informations Financières (National Financial Information Processing Unit, CENTIF), is responsible for investigating money laundering and terrorist financing. CENTIF has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials. In February 2019, the regional FATF body – the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering (GIABA) – issued a Mutual Evaluation Report of Senegal’s anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing (AML/CTF) performance, measured by FATF standards. Although GIABA found the GOS’s understanding of AML/CTF standards and risks adequate, it gave Senegal non-compliant or partially compliant ratings on 26 of FATF’s 40 AML/CTF legal standards. Senegal also received ten low ratings and one moderate rating on the FATF’s 11 indicators measuring efforts to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and weapons of mass destruction proliferation financing. Key weaknesses included: lack of domestic legislation implementing BCEAO AML/CTF directives; inadequate monitoring of nonprofits and non-financial professions, such as lawyers and accountants, who engage in financial transactions; inadequate inspections and sanctions of financial institutions; weak interagency cooperation; and poor AML/CTF capacity among police, judiciary, and customs. As a result, and in the absence of improvements, in February 2021, FATF added Senegal to its “gray list.” The GOS has committed to an action plan to address its deficiencies.

It is important for U.S. companies to assess corruption risks and develop an effective compliance program to prevent corruption, including bribery. U.S. firms operating in Senegal can underscore to partners that they are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and may seek legal counsel to ensure full compliance with anti-corruption laws. The U.S. Government seeks to level the global playing field for U.S. businesses by encouraging other countries to take steps to criminalize all corruption, including bribery of officials, and requiring governments to uphold their obligations under relevant international conventions. A U.S. firm that believes a competitor is using bribery to secure a contract may convey this to U.S. officials.

Senegal is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption but is not a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

10. Political and Security Environment

Senegal has long been regarded as an anchor of stability in politically unstable West Africa. It is the only regional country that has never had a coup d’état. International observers assessed the February 2019 presidential election, in which President Sall won a second term, as free and fair, despite a few instances of campaign violence. Public protests occasionally spawn isolated incidents of violence when unions, opposition parties, merchants, or students demand better salaries, working conditions, or other benefits.

The March 2021 arrest of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko on alleged rape charges led to several days of intense protests that spiraled into widespread riots and looting. The unrest, Senegal’s worst in decades, was fueled by pandemic-related hardship, particularly among the youth. According to press reports, 14 people died, hundreds were injured, and private businesses across the country were damaged. While a few local businesses were damaged, firms associated with France – historically targeted by some groups as relics of the colonial past — bore the brunt of the looting and property damage. Despite this bout of unrest, foreign investors largely remained confident in Senegal’s stability and economic rebound. Most observers agreed that strong private sector investment, facilitated by improvements to the business climate and better mobilization of capital, is needed to address youth employment.

Years of declining violence in the Casamance region, home of a four-decade-old separatist conflict, ignited into a full military conflict between Senegal’s army and elements of the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance (MFDC) in March 2022. The Senegalese government indicated that the military operation would continue until MFDC resistance is eradicated, putting an end to the armed separatist movement.

Security is a top priority for the government, which increased its defense and security budget by 92 percent between 2012 and 2017. The Armed Forces Ministry noted a 32 percent budget increase for the fiscal year 2021.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Senegal’s Labor Code, based on the French system, was last updated in 1997. The code retains a rigid approach that, according to some observers, favors social over economic goals. Rules relating to employment contracts, layoffs, and redundancy protections are some of the most stringent in the world, imposing high costs on businesses. However, labor law is not well-enforced, especially in the dominant informal sector.

Acquiring work permits for expatriate staff is typically straightforward. Citizens from WAEMU member countries may work freely in Senegal.

Senegal has an abundant supply of unskilled and semi-skilled labor, with a more limited supply of skilled workers in engineering and technical fields. While Senegal has one of the best higher educational systems in West Africa and produces a substantial pool of educated workers, limited job opportunities in Senegal lead many to emigrate.

Relations between employees and employers are governed by the Labor Code, industry-wide collective bargaining agreements, company regulations, and individual employment contracts. The Code provides legal protection for women and children and prohibits forced or compulsory labor. It also establishes minimum standards for working age, working hours, and working conditions, and bars children from performing many dangerous jobs. Senegal ratified International Labor Organization Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor in 2000. The Code recognizes the right of workers to form and join trade unions. Any group of workers in a similar trade or profession may create a union, although formal approval by the Ministry of the Interior is required. The right to strike is recognized but sometimes restricted. The GOS has the authority to dissolve trade unions and requisition workers from private enterprises.

Two powerful industry associations represent management’s interests: the National Council of Employers and the National Employers’ Association. The principal labor unions are the National Confederation of Senegalese Workers and the National Association of Senegalese Union Workers, a federation of independent labor unions. Collective bargaining agreements cover an estimated 44 percent of formal sector workers. Most workers, however, work in the informal sector, where labor rules are not enforced.

Child labor remains a problem, particularly in the informal sector, mining, construction, transportation, domestic work, agriculture, and fishing, where labor regulations are rarely enforced. Despite some progress, Senegal still struggles with forced child begging. Tens of thousands of religious students (talibés) are enrolled in Koranic schools (daaras) where some are forced to beg to enrich teachers, a corruption of the intended lesson in humility. The GOS has made some progress in combatting these practices, but more progress is needed.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2020 $25,051 Senegal GDP 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 $114 U.S. FDI in Senegal 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 $0 Senegal FDI in United States 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 34.6% Total FDI in Senegal 

“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions) in 2019
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $4,688 100% Total Outward $949 100%
France #1 $2,333 50% France #1 $409 43%
Mauritius #2 $636 14% Mali #2 $129 14%
Canada #3 $626 14% Cote d’Ivoire #3 $127 13%
Nigeria #4 $200 4% India #4 $93 10%
China #5 $180 4% Mauritius #5 $69 7%

Data 

14. Contact for More Information

Aichatou Fall
Economic Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Route des Almadies, B.P. 49, Dakar, Senegal
+221 33 879 4000
FallAX@state.gov 

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