|Ambassador Mamadou Gueye FAYE|
Senegal, the most institutionally stable country in West Africa, is a place where opportunities for a cooperative business environment with Korea, as well as rich cultural heritage and tourist attractions, are expanding. South Korea and Senegal continue to strengthen ties in various fields despite their thousands of kilometers of distance. FUTURE ECO heard from the Senegalese Ambassador about environmental policy, climate impact and green business cooperation with South Korea.
What unique characteristics does Senegal have in Africa? Please introduce Senegal’s charm.
Senegal has various charms depending on the point of view from which you examine the question. One of the most important, in my eyes, is its tolerance and conviviality which gives meaning to the expression “land of Téranga”.
In Wolof, Téranga means hospitality which constitutes a historical heritage resulting from a melting pot of peoples and cultures creating a tradition of welcoming and sharing. More generally, by its privileged geographical position, in particular its Atlantic facade of 700 km which makes the country the main gateway to West Africa at the crossroads of the paths leading to Europe, Americas, Middle and Far East, Senegal reflects the image of an open and stable country.
We can also cite entrenchment of democracy(in Senegal, people have been voting since the 19th century and the country has experienced two political alternations through free and peaceful elections), cohabitation of religions(in Saint Louis and Ziguinchor, two of the largest cities of Senegal, Muslims and Christians share the same cemetery) and ethnic diversity.
|Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training(IRESSEF) fighting against COVID-19|
The world is going through an unusual pandemic. What is the situation in Senegal?
Like other countries around the world, Senegal has been confronting the COVID-19 since March 2, when the first case was recorded in the country. It was a case imported from an European country.
The political and health authorities immediately launched response measures, and in addition to the closure of land, sea and air borders on March 20, the President of the Republic declared on March 23 a state of emergency throughout the national territory and announced a curfew, with a ban on processions, parades, rallies and demonstrations on the public streets, as well as the closure of places of worship.
At the same time, to support the populations strongly impacted by these measures, the Senegalese Government has allocated a special budget of 1000 billion CFA franc to help families and businesses in need and even the compatriots in the diaspora including those residing here in Korea.
A few months later, in view of the evolution of the situation, and taking into account the socio-economic imperatives, several flexible measures were taken.
At the same time, and it is still the case today, the populations gained clear awareness of the respect of the barrier measures including washing hands and wearing mask which moreover became obligatory in all public spaces, public and private work places, transportations and commercial areas.
In the end, we can say that even if the Senegalese health structures do not have the level of those in developed countries, commitment of the authorities and selflessness of the health personnel have so far made it possible to have results well below often pessimistic forecasts.
According to an article in <USA Today>, a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan American think tank, Senegal is ranked 2nd globally in the COVID-19 Global Response Index.
|Taïba Ndiaye Wind Power Plant|
Senegal has a significant part of the economy in tourism and agriculture. So the rapidly changing climate environment and water shortages must be a challenge to overcome. How does the Senegalese government solve them?
As you point out in your question, the combined actions of the climate change and the degradation of natural resources without forgetting the loss of biodiversity are placing our countries in unprecedented vulnerability. It is therefore urgent to take measures, not only at the international level but also at the national level, in order to curb these harmful effects which are likely to endanger the whole humanity.
In Senegal, the exploitation of natural resources constitutes the main basis of economic growth and according to reliable sources, nearly 60% of the population depends, for their activities and/or income, on natural resources, which proves their importance and the place they occupy in the economic structure.
As a result, only about three months after the inauguration of his Presidency, President Macky SALL already proposed on the rostrum of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development(Rio +20) his vision in these terms: “More than a green economy, Senegal proposes the advent of a real green governance; governance articulated around balanced economic and social policies backed by environmentally sound technologies and production methods.”
This vision is reflected in the Emerging Senegal Plan(PSE) intended to face development challenges in general. The 2nd phase of the PSE for the period 2019 - 2023 is taking into account an essential component that perpetuates Senegal's commitment to the protection of the environment, in order to guarantee the well-being of the populations and the security of the future generations.
Called the Green PSE, it reflects the decision of the highest Senegalese authorities to make the country's agroecological transition the priority of their new five-year term, through various initiatives such as the creation of the Senegalese forest protection agency, the Reforestation plan for the preservation of ecosystems, the project for a “Zero Waste” Senegal, the establishment of a specific tax regime to promote plastic waste recycling industries, the creation of a national institute of forest research(INRF) or even the application of a new Forest Code to toughen up the legislation on illegal logging and the launch a national program to raise awareness of major environmental risks.
We can also mention the ‘Green Wall’ from Dakar/Senegal on the Atlantic Ocean/West Africa to Djibouti on the Indian Ocean/East Africa which aims to stop the progress of the Sahara Desert.
Other institutional actors contribute also significantly to this fight for the environment, in particular the National Assembly or the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, without forgetting social partners such as labor unions, the National Confederation of Workers of Senegal(CNTS) for example. We should also note the numerous projects implemented within the framework of multilateral cooperation, through the Green Climate Fund(GCF) and the Global Green Growth Institute(GGGI) which have their headquarters in Korea.
What is the environmental issue that Senegal is worried about recently?
In Senegal, most experts agree that the major challenges the country is facing in environmental field are varied, but among them we can quote, according to the Exploratory report on Green Economy of UN Environment Program(UNEP):
- coastal erosion
- land degradation which, a few years ago, affected nearly 2/3 of arable land or 2.5 million hectares representing around 34% of the country's surface area
- the destruction of marine and terrestrial biological diversity
- deforestation caused by logging and bush fires
- pollution and nuisances given that according to the profile of greenhouse gas emissions, energy occupies the first place(40%), followed by agriculture(36%), waste(14%), and industrial processes(11%)
- flooding in large cities during the rainy season due to the large amounts of rainfall (effects of the climate change) and the rampant urbanization
- the advance of the desert in the north of the country.
|Biggest Solar Power Station in West Africa, Sinthiou Mékhé|
Senegal is likely to benefit from solar power due to its hot sunlight. What is the status of renewal energy generation?
Senegal has a high potential in solar power with sunshine amount of 3000 hours/year and an overall irradiation of 5.8kWh/m2/day. Since 2016, no less than six(06) solar power plants have been put into service for a total of 142㎿(Senergy 1 in Santhiou-Mékhé(30㎿), Senergy 2 in Bokhol(20㎿), Malicounda(22㎿), Ten Mérina(30㎿), in Kahone(near Kaolack, 20㎿) and in Sakal(near Louga, 20㎿).
In addition, the country has a significant wind potential, especially on the coastal strip with a width of 50km from Dakar to Saint-Louis where the average annual wind speed at 10m high is of the order of 4.0m/s. Recent measurements taken between 30m and 40m high have revealed the existence of speeds of more than 6.0 m/s. And the Taïba Ndiaye wind farm, inaugurated on February 24, 2020, is the largest of its kind in West Africa, with a full capacity of 158.7㎿ of clean energy, thanks to its 46 turbines 180 m high.
The Taïba Ndiaye wind farm, which is the result of a public-private partnership, increases the share of renewable energy in Senegal’s energy mix to 22%. As we were talking earlier about problems linked to the atmospheric pollution, we can mention that this achievement will prevent the emission of 300,000 tons of CO2 each year and will make a decisive contribution to combating dependence on fossil fuels, of which the proportion fell by a fifth between 2017 and 2020, from 83% to 67%.
I would also like to point out that with the recent discoveries of gas fields, in particular the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim(GTA) field at the coast of Saint-Louis/north of Senegal whose potential is estimated between 15 and 50 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, the Senegalese authorities have decided to back the national exploitation strategy “Gas-to-Power” with three major objectives: allow universal access to electricity, increase the country’s economic competitiveness and last but not least protect the environment with clean energy.
What are some areas where Korea and Senegal can cooperate in the environmental field?
I will answer your question first by going back to the previous one, with the natural resource discoveries I was talking about earlier, and about which Senegal has already appealed to the Korean companies investing in this sector. If the exploitation of the first bloc scheduled for 2022 will start in 2023 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still room for participation and those who want to invest in this sector are all welcome. Many other programs of the Green PES are also likely to interest the Korean companies.
I would like to reiterate the invitation for the Korean businessmen to get more involved in Africa, whose economic dynamism is growing year by year thanks to sound macroeconomic policies and strong partnerships with countries like Korea, all supported by accelerated investment and better integration into global value chains.
Regarding Senegal in particular, recent measures have created an even more attractive business environment and Korean investors feel very comfortable there.
Moreover, I remind you that relations already exist between KEPCO and SENELEC (the national electricity company of Senegal), within the framework of projects for improvement of the energy production and supply in Senegal. As recently as 2019, POSCO International also expressed its interest in this sector, and even sent a prospecting mission to Dakar. The following actions could not be taken at the desired pace because of COVID 19, but hope that these projects will see significant progress as soon as conditions allow.
Finally, we can underline, in terms of intergovernmental cooperation, in addition to the project of the KOICA and other South Korean institutions such as the Korea Environment Industry Association(KEIA) for access to drinking water for example, that Senegal could benefit from Korean expertise in the fight against air pollution and insalubrity, in particular with waste recycling projects such as ‘Zero Waste’ Senegal which is a priority of President Macky SALL.
At the multilateral level, Senegal will finish in 2021 its second term as a member of the management and program sub-committee of the GGGI, where it plays an active role with the designation of President Macky SALL as Champion of green growth. It is also the case for the GCF where, in addition to many projects development, one of my compatriots is member of the Board of Directors representing developing country parties from the African states(Mr. Cheikh Sylla).
As the Ambassador of Senegal to Korea, what is your most focused task in Korea?
Since my arrival in Korea, I have strived to fulfill one of the missions linked to my responsibility, that of making Korea better known to Senegal, and in return allowing Koreans to discover the many facets of my country. An exciting endeavor, if it is, especially since the two countries have enjoyed a relationship of friendship and cooperation since 1962, which means that our bilateral cooperation is not new.
Therefore, if my mission will be to continue to expand and strengthen this cooperation, I am convinced that a particular emphasis can and must be placed on the exchanges between the business circles of the two countries, because as mentioned earlier, Senegal is today in a dynamic of exploitation of rich deposits of natural resources, and since this exploitation will lead to a consequent gain in many sectors, such as infrastructure, equipment, consumer goods among others, I believe that South Korean investors could benefit from it, especially by exploiting the opportunities offered by innovative public-private partnerships.
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