Ideas & Updates

Senegal’s commitment to digitizing payments at local level is setting an example for the region

By Jean Pascal Mvondo, West Africa’s Digital Government Lead, Better Than Cash Alliance

Senegal has just announced a new partnership to accelerate the country’s transition from cash to digital payments, improving local governance and service delivery for its citizens.

The announcement, which took place at an event in Dakar facilitated by our Alliance team, sets an example for other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the request of President Macky Sall to speed up Senegal’s digitization efforts, the newly created High Council of Territorial Communities and the Prime Minister’s Office announced they will work together to digitize payments at local level.

President Sall’s resolve to give more power and voice to municipalities and villages prompted the creation of the High Council of Territorial Communities (HCCT, acronym in French), one of the country’s most important institutions.

One of the first commitments made by this new institution, led by Mr. Ousmane Tanor Dieng, is to work with the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of rural development (PUDC, in French) to build on their successes in supporting development of rural Senegal. Promoting the shift to digital payments is a key area of collaboration.

“Digital payments at the local level will bring more efficiency, transparency and accountability for all actors. We also want to make this an engine for revenue growth, local development and corruption reduction,” Mr. Dieng noted at the event co-chaired by Minister Souleymane Jules Diop.

Buy-in from key stakeholders

The event brought important decision-makers together, including the three main mayor associations and leaders such as Mr. Adama Diouf, President of the National Union of Local Elected Officials (UAEL, acronym in French), who moderated key topics about decentralization. The participants debated the relationship between the central and the local governments, the revenue potential from taxes, and the structural and behavioral changes that are required to drive the digitization of payments from the operational perspective.

Mr. Serigne Mboup, President of the Nation Union of All Chambers of Commerce (UNCCIAS, acronym in French), spoke on behalf of the over 400, 000 companies operating in Senegal and emphasized the benefits of digitization for Senegal’s businesses:

“Electronic payments, with its implied transparency benefit, will bring more stability for the enterprise expenditure forecasts. We will know how much we need to pay, when, to whom and we will have access to our payment track records toward the government.” Mr. Mboup noted.

High expectations at regional level

In just two years, the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of rural development has made great progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, transforming Senegal into an example for 20 African peers who have visited the country to learn. Some countries, like Togo, Burundi, Ghana, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, are already implementing Senegal’s good practices to their specific context.

These countries would benefit from following Senegal’s lead in forging strong institutional partnerships on digitizing payments to boost local development.