The night of Monday, February 5 was dark in Senegal, literally and metaphorically. The country’s Parliament had just voted to postpone the elections for almost a year, to December 15. Senegalese citizens were due to vote on February 25. But with this new decision, President Macky Sall would retain this seat beyond April 2, the expected date of the transfer of power. It was his idea in the first place. The only difference was that Sall’s postponement was indefinite. Several opposition lawmakers were prevented from voting Monday as Parliament postponed elections until December, sparking outrage and condemnation.
In the morning, demonstrations broke out in the streets of Dakar, the national capital. Riot police lined up outside the National Assembly, firing tear gas and making arrests to disperse the crowds. Authorities also cut off mobile internet in the West African country. International bodies, including ECOWAS and the United Nations, are trying to intervene. They all ask Parliament to reverse its decision and allow Senegal to quickly organize its elections.
But so far, little has changed and the consequences are looming on the country’s economy. This delay damages Senegal’s reputation as one of the pillars of democracy in Africa. Military coups have shaken several of its West African neighbors and even provoked in some withdraw from the regional bloc. But Senegal has conducted peaceful elections for more than two decades and established itself as a “a model of democracy » in Africa.
The first consequence comes from Senegal’s decision to cut off the Internet (again). This is the third Internet outage in nine months. And according to some estimates, Senegal lost $300,000 per hour due to the June closure.
However, Senegal was one of the countries on the verge of being included among the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. fastest growing economies this year by the IMF. Only Niger (12.8%) had a growth forecast higher than that of Senegal (8.8%). This expectation depended on Senegal electing a new leader this year and attracting new influxes of investors. No one saw a postponement coming because it had never happened before.
After parliament’s decision was announced, Senegal’s dollar bonds due 2033 fell 3.6% to 83.77 cents on the dollar, while Senegal’s 2037 debt fell 4.7% to 69 .84. Since November, Senegal’s bonds have outperformed their sub-Saharan African counterparts, likely due to expectations of smooth elections. Additionally, Senegal is poised to become a major oil and gas producer, with projects involving BP Plc, Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Woodside Energy Group Ltd. which should be put online this year. But now, uncertainty around the elections is pushing investors to speculate on an additional premium on the risk of investing in the country.