Translation and Localization for Africa: Senegal

March 31, 2017 Sakina Sultanova

Senegal is located on the west coast of Africa. It surrounds Gambia on three sides and is bordered by Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south.

Senegal is not one of the largest African countries, nor is it strategically located, however, it plays an important role in African politics. Senegal also acts as a cultural bridge between Muslim Africans and non-Muslim Africans due to its large population of Muslims.

In this blog, I will cover some brief, but important facts about Senegal for anyone looking to travel or expand business operations there.

Senegalese Demographics

  • The population of Senegal is slightly less than 16 million.

  • Dakar is the capital city.

  • The currency is the West African CFA franc.

  • The government is a multiparty democratic republic.

  • The major ethnic groups are: Wolof, Fula, Serer and Jola.

Senegalese Languages

  • The official language is French.

  • Wolof is the lingua franca.

  • There are approximately 36 languages spoken in Senegal including: Pulaar, Soninke, Jola-Fonyi, Balanta-Ganja and many others.

Senegalese Culture

  • 94% of the population in Senegal are Muslim.

  • Senegal has maintained closer economic, political, and cultural ties to France than any other former French African colony.

  • It gets its name from the river that runs along its northern and eastern borders, forming the frontier with Mauritania and Mali.

  • Marriages are often arranged by families.

  • The daily food for Senegalese people is rice cooked with vegetables and a spicy sauce. The national dish is called chep-bu-jen, which is rice with fish. After each main dish, they drink strong, sweet tea.

Senegalese Consumers

  • The Senegalese prefer to buy imported products.

  • Senegalese women are large consumers of beauty and skin-care products and are attracted to American brands.

  • The average Senegalese consumer has limited purchasing power, but the emergence of an upper-middle class has led to the development of supermarket chains, mostly international ones.

  • In terms of tourism, Senegal is not a very popular destination to visit, but Senegal is developing National Park and Reserve Systems, with the goal of attracting wildlife fans.

  • Education is free. The school system has primary, secondary and advanced levels. Education is available both to girls and boys equally.

The Future of Senegal

  • Senegal has deep-seated economic difficulties, as many developing nations do.

  • Unemployment is massive, the country is continuously relying on agricultural exportation for foreign revenue.

  • Free-market competition and privatization are developing very slowly.

  • The Democratic Party’s recent electoral wins have created hope that Senegal is progressing and will be less authoritarian in the near future.


Senegal’s economy has been growing since 2006. The government is trying to address the high rate of poverty, which is a main challenge. Senegal is improving the investment climate, the cost of energy and enabling the private sector to develop the economy, so we might see many positive changes in the years to come.

Additional Resources on Africa and African Language Translation

In order to support the growing needs of our clients for many of the African and Middle Eastern languages, GPI has opened offices in Dubai, UAE and Cairo, Egypt to support our clients doing business in the Middle East and Africa. GPI has built teams of professional native speakers for many of the African languages whether national or indigenous, who are available to help companies with their African language translations needs.

Feel free to review our blogs and eBooks that are particularly relevant:

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our translation services. Also let us know if you have any interesting topics you would like us to cover in future blogs. You may also request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects if you are considering a specific translation project.






About the Author

Sakina Sultanova

Global Account Services Manager. Sakina is originally from Azerbaijan and is now living and working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She fluently speaks 5 languages including Azeri, Russian, Turkish, English and Chinese. In high school, she was an exchange student in Alabama, United States of America. She graduated from Baku State University, faculty of Oriental Studies (China). She has 8 years’ experience in different fields of Business Development, Office Management, Translation and Teaching. She has worked in international companies owned by Chinese, Turkish and British firms, providing her diverse experience with different cultures and business protocols and customs. She has solid experience as well in sales, researching, customer relations and business planning. She is a proud mother of 2 year old baby-girl. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and playing outdoors.

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