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Economic liberalization in Senegal: shifting politics of indigenous business interests

Thioub, Ibrahima, Diop, Momar-Coumba and Boone, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0001-5324-7814 (1998) Economic liberalization in Senegal: shifting politics of indigenous business interests. African Studies Review, 41 (2). pp. 63-89. ISSN 0002-0206

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Analysts of African business in the 1960s and 1970s stressed the weakness of the local private sector and its subordination to foreign capital and the government. Have economic liberalization and the shrinking of the state changed matters? This paper takes up this question in an analysis of Senegal. Here, relations between the state, foreign capital, and indigenous business interests have changed considerably since 1980, signaling what may be some of the most significant shifts in Senegal's political economy since Abdou Diouf's coming to power in 1981. There has been a shift of commercial control away from the state and foreign interests and toward the Senegalese "informal sector," and clear moves away from the old pattern of clientelist-style relations between Senegalese business and the regime. In this paper, we argue that in spite of changes, the political clout and economic ambitions of Senegalese business interests are still limited by their weak hold on productive sectors of the economy. This is clear in the economic policy fights of the 1990s. Much of the contest is a struggle for commercial-sector advantage that pits old-style politician-businessmen against the "informal sector" commercial interests that have been gathering force in Senegal since the 1970s. These changes seem to have less to do with the emergence of "indigenous capitalism" than with diminution of the regime's ability to constrain and canalize the development of indigenous commercial interests. This paper traces these developments, grounding the analysis of the 1990s in a detailed empirical study of UNACOIS, a sometimes-militant business association that emerged in Dakar in 1990 to represent the Senegalese "informal sector."

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1998 African Studies Association
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2013 12:09
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:33

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