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Senegal's economy struggles amid COVID-19 pandemic – Africanews English

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Senegal’s recent protests have shone a light on simmering frustrations over sluggish economic activity and unemployment in the West African state, which have been compounded by a year of coronavirus restrictions.

But many argue that anger also boiled over because of deepening poverty in the nation of 16 million people, especially among the young.

– Tourism sector hit hard –

At the Soumbédioune craft market in central Dakar, usually a draw for tourists looking for souvenirs, merchants are struggling as the pandemic drags on.

Moulaye Ndiaye, a sculptor from Dakar’s crafts market, shares his local observations.

“Everything is slowed down, or rather, everything has completely stopped. For other sectors, the shopkeepers in the city centre, for example, it’s not that bad, they are still working. But we, who are craftsmen, who depend directly on tourism, are very affected by all this.”

Gorra Sarr, a crafts vendor, expresses what he believes is the frustration of the Senegalese people.

“What I can say is that the Senegalese are tired, and they are hungry. If you notice, they have attacked the stores where we sell food. For example, they didn’t attack us because we don’t sell anything to eat.”

Situated in the westernmost part of Africa, Senegal is bordered by Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. It is surrounded by the Gambia, an English-speaking country with one of the smallest land areas on the continent.

Senegal has a tropical, dry climate and a population of 15.4 million, a quarter of which lives in the region of the capital, Dakar, on 0.3% of the territory.

The country is one of the most popular tourist destinations in West Africa, which is home to Dakar and Saint Louis, two dynamic cultural hubs.

Senegal is also home to several diverse wildlife parks, including the Niokolo-Koba National Park, the Oiseaux du Djoudj National Park, and the Bandia Game Reserve. Senegal is known as the land of “teranga”, which is the Senegalese value of hospitality, respect, and community. Teranga is a Wolof word (one of the national languages) that encompasses the Senegalese spirit of warmth and friendliness to visitors.

Visitors to Senegal are sure to experience a warm welcome on their arrival, as well as throughout their visit. The Senegalese beaches are beautiful and sandy, with rich populations of fish. Savoury Senegalese food is sure to tempt your taste as well.

The pandemic not only hit the hospitality and tourism industries but also slashed foreign remittances which represent about 10% of the country’s GDP.

About two million people had fallen into poverty since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

Pape Abdou Fall, President of Soumbédioune crafts market’s sculptor’s association, provides some more insight into the situation.

“Before COVID, we were already in a state of crisis, which COVIDhas aggravated. We who work in the tourism sector, it is a total crisis. I can say that 95% of our work is the tourists, because we make wooden sculptures, and the sculptures are bought by tourists.”

– Economic situation –

Between 2014 and 2018, Senegal recorded some of the strongest economic growth in Africa, consistently above 6% per year. Real GDP growth was 5.3% in 2019, down from 6.3% in 2017. It is mainly driven by the services sector, while on the demand side, the main drivers of growth are investment (+12.5%) and exports (+7.2%).

Since the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has significantly changed the country’s economic outlook. In 2020, growth has slowed sharply to an estimated 1.3%, with services (such as tourism and transport) and exports particularly affected. Senegal has responded with containment measures and an ‘economic and social resilience programme’ (ESRP) to protect lives and livelihoods. However, weak budgetary reserves and safety nets, a vulnerable health system and a large informal sector pose challenges.

Economic recovery is likely to be gradual and driven by a strong return of private consumption and investment. The reforms envisaged under the Plan Sénégal Émergent (PSE) need to be deepened so that growth returns to its pre-pandemic trajectory.

A significant influx of private investment is essential to increase Senegal’s productive capacity and sustain export growth. Services continue to dominate GDP, while the primary sector (agriculture, in particular) is the most dynamic engine of growth. The current health crisis has delayed oil and gas projects, which are only expected to contribute to revenues and exports around 2025.

The COVID-19 pandemic risks jeopardising the socio-economic gains from improved access to key services, both in terms of affordability and infrastructure deployment. It could result in severe losses to households through reduced in-work and out-of-work income (especially private remittances), domestic price inflation and disruption of essential service provision.

Senegal’s economy was growing before the pandemic, with its GDP increasing by 5.3% in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, despite the IMF forecasting a recovery this year after a slowdown in 2020, coronavirus restrictions have ravaged Senegal’s large informal sector and growing numbers of people are struggling to make ends meet.

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.

“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”

Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.

Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.

On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)

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