By Souleymane Gueye Ph.D, Professor of Economics and Statistics, College of San Francisco
“We are in a country where accountability is a problem and transparency as well”, Birahim Seck, Coordinator of the Civil Forum in Dakar, Senegal, and Representant of Transparency International in Senegal
This second part of the article “Corruption, Bad governance and Development Outcomes: The case of Senegal” examines the use of governance tools to curb corruption in Senegal. It shows that better governance can be an effective deterrent to corruption and can mitigate the effects of corruption on the Senegalese society by increasing transparency of government decision -making processes and holding service providers to account. The pervasive corruption is evident in Senegal and the net effects of the interaction of this entrenched corruption with political instability in Senegal are bad economic performance and a blurry economic outlook in the medium and long term. Therefore, simple measures to improve governance (institutional, political, and economic governance) and corruption -control can have a positive effect on the economic outcomes of Senegal.
Looking towards the 2024 election, many politicians and presidential hopefuls are proposing policies and strategies to improve Senegal. However, no matter how great these policies and strategies are, no meaningful or impactful change can come from them unless we address the issues at the core of Senegalese government, specifically bad governance, and corruption. Senegal can’t win the fight against poverty without winning the war against corruption due to bad governance.
We have demonstrated in the first part of this paper that corruption is not only toxic to economic growth in Senegal, but also destroys the incentive to play fair, and leads to a breakdown in faith and confidence in the system. This productive behavior is impaired in the corrupt environment created in Senegal in which people who cheat, engage in fraud, embezzle are the one who succeed. This pervasive corruption and compensation of fraud is dangerous for Senegalese society and the economy.
Furthermore, the legal framework and instruments such as IGE (Inspection Générale d’ Etat / General State Inspectorate ), Court of Audit, Financial Control, ARMP, (Agence de Régulation des Marches Publics/ Public Procurement Regulatory Agency), ARTP (Agence de Regulation des telecommunications et de la poste /Telecommunication and Postal Regulatory Agency) necessary for good governance have experienced dysfunctions even though their work provides information on the level of management of public affairs, which remain alarming and despicable ( C. Gueye 2023) . The various reports (Court of Audit on the Covid Fund) have reported many bad practices, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. These various reports show a deeply entrenched practice of bad governance across all levels of the decision-making process in Senegal.
Due to the growing trend of poverty, increased income inequality, foreign land grab, extraverted economic growth, growing trend of capital flight, the relevance of governance in dampening the negative effects of corruption on Senegal ‘s macroeconomics outcomes is self-evidence.
Good governance in Senegal – institutional governance, political governance, and economic governance- should be linked to the political, socio economic and institutional processes and outcomes needed to achieve the stated economic objectives (job creation and poverty alleviation).
The goal of fighting corruption should then be to improve the government financial management system and increase its transparency. It should also aim to make better stewardship of the public purse the norm by strengthening governance which is related to all government processes, institutions, and practices for decision- making and regulation concerning matters of common interest in Senegal.
To tackle the bad governance that allows corruption to flourish in all the different sectors of the Senegalese economy, I propose the following solutions based on the different tools of governance which is based on accountability for one’s actions, and the ability to meet the needs of the Senegalese citizens.
Good Governance and Corruption Reduction
The different pillars on which governance is based can be analyzed in three broad categories: institutional governance, political governance, and economic governance.
1/ Institutional Governance: The Rule of Law and Corruption- control
- Rule of Law and Independent judiciary
As citizens of Senegal, we should demand the government to respect the separation of powers in Senegal by rebalancing the power of the executive branch and making the judiciary more independent. This will allow the judiciary branch to enforce laws and protect citizens from indiscriminate decision making.
For example, the president should not be the only one to nominate the District Attorney – he should be nominated by a committee chosen from the civil society, the bar, the association of the magistrates, and a representative of the executive branch after a call for applications.
The principle of “irremovability “of the magistrates should be enforced regardless of the will of the president by putting in place some safeguards. As stated by the current president of Senegal in 2012 on the needs of institutional reforms” put under the tutelage of the executive power, instrumentalized by the latter and insufficiently endowed with human and material resources, the judicial power is not always able to fully carry out its missions with impartiality and independence.
Putting an end to this situation requires strengthening the independence of the Superior Council of the Judiciary through its composition, its organization, and its functioning.”. The above statement demonstrated the need and the urgency to reform the judicial system in Senegal. Firstly, a rule- based integrity of management is important to implement. This requires a reform of the CSM (Conseil Supérieur de la magistrature). The objective of this reform is to limit the interference of political power in the exercise of judicial power by guaranteeing transparency in the management of the careers of magistrates.
For this to happen the Senegalese people should be represented in the CSM by people chosen from members of the parlement, a lawyer, a professor of law, a member chosen by the civil society, member of the UMS so that they can exert a permanent control of the CSM. Otherwise, oversight is needed to limit the control of the executive branch on the judiciary. The judicial system should be strengthened to gain autonomy and independence – one way to accomplish this is to create a career management committee very independent of the executive branch.
Secondly, a limitation of the power of the president is mandatory and the possibility of removing (impeaching) him in well- defined circumstances as well as create mechanisms that can be used to prosecute the ministers at the criminal level (financial prosecutor’s office). This autonomous financial prosecutor’s office should also fight against economic and financial problems by managing cases of accusations of embezzlement of public funds (Niane 2023).
Finally, an elimination of the “Discretionary Account” known as “political fund » at the disposal of the president or the creation of mechanisms of auditing the disbursement of the fund every year before beginning of the fiscal year.
Besides these institutional reforms, what can the Senegalese people do about the highly corrupt Senegal?
Reducing corruption in Senegal requires changing the set of expectations about how to behave by creating new beliefs and modifying common understanding about how to behave, which means that effective anti-corruption activities involve groups of people operating in public, rather than moralism. For these measures to work, behavior change strategies need to be implemented at all levels of society. This social behavior change can be framed using the socioecological model which considers not just the individual but their relationship to their community and society when trying to create positive behavior change. Indeed, ordinary Senegalese people can undertake the following actions recommended by Transparency International:
- Monitoring government spending
- Auditing government benefits and services
- Writing citizen report cards
- Crowdsourcing information
- Asking candidates or voters to commit to election pledges
- Protesting and petitioning state and local entities
Applying these simple ideas to change social expectations should be the primary objective. This requires attracting public attention to the efforts to implement these actions, to collectively speak out. For this to be effective a communication strategy must be designed using social media platforms; these can be used to create common knowledge and coordinate anti-corruption efforts from the bottom up.
Aside from the implication of individual citizens in the fight against corruption, other actions need to be taken to complement this corruption control. For example, increasing civil servants’ salaries can reduce corruption if accompanied by stricter enforcement or efforts at changing permissive norms at all levels of the decision-making process.
A free press is key to exposing corruption and catalyzing support for reform if the media is not controlled by the government or owned by people looking for their self-interests. In that sense, The National Assembly should pass a bill on access to information aimed at “strengthening governance and transparency while guaranteeing all citizens access to information held by public entities” as promised by the current president.
Stricter monitoring and enforcement by dedicated and autonomous anti-corruption authorities can be effective in fighting corruption in Senegal. Effective leadership is very important for driving change in corruption norms from the top down, serving to coordinate the further efforts of ordinary citizens.
The proposed reform and the suggested actions that Senegalese citizens can undertake to tackle corruption can restore confidence in domestic institutions in the short and long run; hence creating a climate in which the rule of law is upheld as well as better information accounting standards that will undoubtedly deter corrupt behavior that destroys good productive behavior that should be the only mean of generating income and creating wealth in the country. Reform needs to happen at the individual level, community level and public policy level for it to be effective.
2/ Political Governance: Independent Commission to control all elections in Senegal
Political governance can be defined as the election and replacement of political leaders in a free and transparent election conducive to a stable political environment that has a substantial influence on corruption and all the problems associated with it: stifling economic growth, poverty, income inequality and incapacity to attract foreign direct investment. Accordingly, in the presence of political instability and violence, it is very likely that investors will not invest in the country or will try to transfer their capital to an economic environment with lower level of investment risks. Political stability is an important asset for Senegal and needs to be protected.
Moreover, the political institutions (competitive election and executive accountability) in Senegal are perceived as absolutist by nature because of a strong executive branch with enormous power that is narrowly distributed and unconstrained. Consequently, creating not only an environment not favorable for economic performance but also an economic context in which those who wield power have been able to set up economic institutions to enrich themselves, and increase their power at the expense of the entire Senegalese society.
This is very detrimental to the Senegalese economy because it has contributed to a transfer of investment by investors to other countries (East Asian countries) where political institutions are more stable and credible. Senegal foreign direct investment for 2020 was $1.85, a 73.23% increase from the prior year.
In 2021 it was $2.23 an increase of 20.93% from 2020. Overall, the foreign direct investment has decreased by about 71.4 % between 2020 and 2021 and this trend is likely to continue because of the political instability. Therefore, the country should avoid it by strengthening the political institutions that are able to distribute political power widely in a pluralistic manner and able to achieve political concentration to establish law and order to minimize corruption and punish bad productive behavior which is a key determinant of the foundation of secure property rights and an inclusive market economy favorable to long term investment and inclusive economic growth.
Investors naturally react negatively to political events that are unfavorable to their return: disinvesting. Unfortunately, Senegal is experiencing this situation because of the instability and the uncertainty created by the refusal of the president to respect the political institution (Constitution of Senegal) that prevents him from seeking a third term.
And because direct effects of political instability and accountability influence the level of corruption in the country, the amount of inflow of capital, and economic growth it is important to strengthen the inclusive political institutions by implementing the recommendations of CNRI (Commission Nationale de Réforme des Institutions) and adopting the “charter of democratic governance” resulting from the “Assises Nationales”.
Consequently, Senegal can regain political stability and non-violence that will mitigate the negative effects of corruption on transforming the primary sector for a sustained inclusive economic growth with lasting positive effects on poverty alleviation. This is the reason why we should not allow the current government to create an environment of political instability and violence by subverting the will of the people of Senegal.
Therefore, it is urgent to create an Independent Commission in charge of the election, High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HAPTV) and reestablish the “Consensual Electoral Code”that has contributed to the peaceful election of two presidents since 2000.
3/ Economic Governance: Government Effectiveness and Regulation Quality
Economic governance is the formulation of policies that deliver public commodities. Otherwise, it refers to the system of economic institutions created to reach the stated economic objectives of the Senegalese government, namely economic growth, alleviation of poverty, and improvement of the standard of living of the citizens of Senegal.
With good governance these objectives can easily be reached , but unfortunately, the bad governance observed in Senegal has produced substantial economic damages – massive unemployment, substantial loss of income, higher poverty rate , irreversible damage to the human capital of the poor and the rest of the population, food insecurity, hunger, and low life expectancy- which affect the concern of investors regarding the stability of the macroeconomic environment and confidence in the economic outlook of Senegal.
This bad economic governance has resulted in an economic outlook that is uncertain in the medium and long term. This uncertain economic outlook created by bad governance discourages investors from placing their assets in the economy because they prefer an economic environment that is associated with less corruption and uncertainty. From this perspective Senegal is taking the risk to see assets and money leave the country because of poor economic governance.
Therefore, bad economic governance can reduce macroeconomic performance and discourage capital flows owing to a blurred economic outlook. This is very apparent in Senegal as policies designed to deliver public goods and services, build infrastructure, create employment, increase disposable income are tailored by the policy makers and civil servants such that they siphon and deposit stolen funds in foreign banks (this amount is estimated at 250 billion CFA francs per year).
In Senegal, the perception of many people refers to the fact that bad governance plagues our social environment and greatly hampers the economic performance of the economy and the related economic outcomes. It follows from the above arguments that good economic governance can stifle corruption, grow the economy, increase the saving rate of the economy, and attract foreign direct investment that can be used to start the process of transforming the primary sector (agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, deposits) to set the foundation of a planned strategy industrialization in Senegal.
Therefore, I propose the following reforms regarding the regulatory economic agencies in Senegal:
- Modify the nomination process of the members of ARMP (members chosen by the president, congress, and civil society from a pool of qualified people vetted by their peers.)
- Create an agency for gas and oil exploitation (Energy Regulatory commission composed of five members chosen by the president, parlement, workers in the industries, and academicians with impeccable credentials in the relevant field).
- Create an OBM (Office of budget management) with an independent status in charge of evaluating government expenditures, track the tax revenue, and other financial resources. This office should be managed by an independent person with expertise in budgetary procedure and academic credentials.
- Put in place mechanisms to track sale and acquisition of public assets. This can be done through the publication of an annual report setting income/expenditures and outlining which public assets had been sold to whom, at what price and through what process,
- Tracking flows of money through auditing expenditures against a comprehensive budget
- Control the Single Treasury Account by an independent committee.
We have investigated the channels through which corruption generates an economic and social misery that is contributing to massive illegal and legal migration of young Senegalese people. We have focused on three key variables: GDP per capita, employment, and poverty.
The other aspect of the study investigated whether good governance has a positive effect on corruption to mitigate the negative effects of corruption on the Senegalese economy. The policy implication is clear and straightforward: to have inclusive economic growth and alleviate poverty, Senegal would have to increase its efforts toward improving good governance to mitigate the adverse effects that corruption has on the economy. Actions aimed at promoting good governance should be tailored towards reversing the drivers of non-productive behavior of the economic agents and civil servants , notably: political governance can stabilize the political and economic environment resulting from political instability created by the desire of the president to seek a third term and to prevent the main opposition leader to participate in the next presidential election and the absence of accountability; economic governance can reduce the unemployment rate of the youth and the level of poverty resulting from corruption, economic instability, government ineffectiveness and poor regulation quality; and institutional governance can mitigate poverty , misery and income inequality resulting from corruption and disrespect of the rule of law.
Such governance mechanisms should entail improvement in participation, technical and managerial competence, transparency and open information systems and organizational capacity. It is relevant to also clarify that the recommendation to enhance good governance to mitigate the pervasive effects of corruption and create the conditions for job creation, delivering good public services, build appropriate infrastructure, and good school builds on the fact that governance standards in Senegal are very low relative to other countries.
 Plaidoyer pour réformer l’État et moderniser l’administration Sénégalaise by Souleymane Niane (2023)
 Asongu, 2016 “Determinants of growth in Fast Developing Countries: Evidence from Bundling and Unbundling Institutions”, Politics and Policy (“Determinants of Growth in Fast Developing Countries: Evidence from …”)
 Declaration de Macky Sall, (2012) president of Senegal
 Le Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature : L’indispensable reforme by Ibrahima Dème Wathinote 29 janvier 2018.
 Transparency International has an anti- Corruption kit available at https://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/tools/anti_coruption_kit
 Corruption: what everyone needs to know by Ray Fisman and Miriam A. Golden Oxford University Press (“(PDF) Corruption: What Everyone Needs to Know®, by Ray Fisman and …”)
-  The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty: Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglo, James Robinson
-  Senegal Foreign Direct Investment 1973 0 2023 world Bank Development Indicators and West Africa and southeast Asia: A comparative analysis of economic performance by Souleymane Gueye (report after sabbatical leave, 2019 CCSF Library).
-  Senegalese Constitution article 27 “ Nul ne peut exercer plus de deux mandats consécutifs » (“ « Nul ne peut exercer plus de deux mandats consécutifs » (,) La virgule …”)
-  Commission Nationale de Réforme des Institutions
-  Code électoral consensuel “Assises Nationales” 2001
-  Andres and allies (2015) Fighting software piracy: Which governance tools matter in Africa Journal of Business Ethics