In Senegal, it is the last straight line in the campaign before the legislative elections of July 31. Candidates travel the country to convince voters. Employment, high cost of living, economic recovery… the promises are aimed in particular at young people who represent 75% of the population according to the National Agency for Statistics and Demography. They hope to be the priority of the next legislature.
Ibrahima Diagne meticulously folds jeans which he stacks on a table with several shelves. Installed clandestinely on a sidewalk, opposite the Case Bi roundabout in the suburbs of Dakar, he takes care of the presentation of his articles in the hope of attracting passers-by. In a deafening din and an atmosphere polluted by exhaust pipes, the young man, 20, keeps smiling despite everything. “It happens to me to go two or three days without seeing the shadow of a customer, even a passer-by who pretends to be interested in my articles. Times are tough.”
Ibrahima, who stopped his studies in class 3e in college, has only one dream: to help his mother, sitting just opposite him, on the other side of the road, to sell sachets of mineral water at 50 CFA francs each. He hopes that the future deputies of the National Assembly will carry the voice of young people. “We have been forgotten by the state. We have great difficulty finding a stable and dignified job. I have nothing else to do but sell jeans. I hope that the next Assembly will help us.”
The campaign for the legislative elections in Senegal opened in a climate of political tension. The ruling coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar, majority in the outgoing National Assembly, wants to retain its leadership in order to allow the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, to govern serenely until the next presidential election in 2024. Benno Bokk Yakaar is betting on youth to achieve its objectives, with more young people on the candidate lists and a slogan widely broadcast on electoral posters in the streets of Dakar: “Benno is betting on youth.”
Facing them is the grand coalition of the opposition Yewwi Askan Wi, led by the main opponents Ousmane Sonko and Khalifa Sall. Nevertheless, the holders of their list, including the main leaders of the coalition, were rejected by the Constitutional Council for non-compliance with the rule of parity. Yewwi Askan Wi thus engages in this diminished ballot, with a list of substitutes.
A little further, at the Case Bi roundabout, Alassane Sarr, 22, has just parked his motorcycle. This “tiak tiak” driver – a delivery man and motorbike taxi driver in Wolof – has just completed a delivery. Absorbed by his smartphone, he casts furtive glances at passers-by hoping to be contacted for a new race. Surgical mask under the chin and transparent glasses on the head, he makes sure that the police do not prowl around.
“The cops have to leave us alone,” he asks. Drivers of “tiak tiak” are one of the favorite targets of traffic cops. Often driving without respecting the highway code, they are regularly apprehended, their motorcycles confiscated or their income withdrawn. “Yes, sometimes it’s certainly our fault, we circulate without full papers or without a helmet, but it’s because we often don’t have a choice. May politicians help us to better structure our profession and to ensure our safety on the road. They did not give us jobs. Let them help us protect the one who earns our living. They are elected for us”, adds Alassane.
The obsession with Eldorado
In March 2021, violent demonstrations erupted after the summons of Ousmane Sonko, the main opponent, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, accused of rape. Young people then took to the streets in droves to demand his release but also, and above all, to demand more social justice and jobs. Severely repressed, these gatherings killed 13 people according to the Movement for the Defense of Democracy (M2D) and 14 dead according to Amnesty International.
In response, President Macky Sall, in an exceptional address to the nation, had promised the implementation of projects for the benefit of young people and women between 2021 and 2023, for an amount of 350 billion CFA francs (i.e. 534 million euros). euros).
Several projects have also been initiated in recent years to further integrate young people into the job market. The National Agency for the Promotion of Youth Employment (ANPEJ) and the Delegation for Rapid Entrepreneurship (DER) are among the most important structures put in place to achieve this objective, with mixed results. The unemployment rate was nearly 25% in Senegal in the 4e half of 2021, according to the National Agency for Statistics and Demography.
Ibrahima believes that he has not yet seen the fruits of these policies. Cap screwed on his head like the American rapper 50 Cent, the young merchant is starting to get impatient and has desires elsewhere. “If you see me, you notice I’m dressed like an American,” he jokes. His project is to obtain the visa for the United States. “I am seriously thinking of leaving Senegal. Please God, I will go to the United States, make my fortune there and help my mom.”
This dream, Ibrahima shares it with Talla, who sees himself, in Europe, as soon as possible. The 25-year-old has a degree in marketing and management, but has been unable to find work. “I’ve been browsing job offers on LinkedIn for a year without ever managing to get even a phone or email response from a human resources manager. My many job applications have gone unanswered. suite. As soon as the opportunity arises, I leave this country.”
To get his ticket to France or Germany, he relies on sports betting. At the exit of a betting agency in the Medina, a popular district in the center of Dakar, he holds a ticket in his hand. “I’m going home to find out about the matches that will take place today. I have no hope for politicians. I don’t expect anything from them. They have lost all my confidence”, specifies- there before slipping away, hoping to hit the jackpot and try his luck on the Old Continent.
Under the footbridge of Ouest Foire, a residential district of the Senegalese capital, about fifteen young girls are seated, stoic, their eyes in emptiness. They congregate here every day waiting for vacancies for cleaners. “I’ve been coming here every day for ten days hoping to get a job. It’s not working yet. I’m still waiting,” says Aissatou, 23.
Unemployment affects women much more in Senegal, with a rate of 35% against 13% for men, according to the main statistics agency on demography.
“We women, we are not taken into account by the state. I left my village and I hoped to have opportunities here. I am desperate, but God is great”, adds Oulimata, sitting next door . The young woman who prefers to keep her age silent, abandoned her studies at the gates of the baccalaureate. She hopes that the next members of Parliament will care about them. “I especially appeal to the women who will be elected. There are many of them since there is parity in the National Assembly. Let them think of us. We are tired. We just want to work with dignity and help our families”, Oulimata concludes.
Source: France 24