Switzerland and Senegal enjoy excellent bilateral relations, characterised by numerous shared interests. The efforts of Switzerland and Senegal to take initiatives at the multilateral level, in particular within the UN and the International Organisation of La Francophonie, demonstrate their shared interest in developing common solutions for a number of global issues.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Senegal
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Senegal maintain wide-ranging contacts at many different levels. High-level meetings between the two countries are frequent, as attested for example by the official visit of President Macky Sall to Switzerland in 2017. In addition, the two countries hold regular political consultations with a view to further deepening their collaboration. The Federal Council's Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24 places Senegal among the African lion economies. These are African countries with high economic potential, particularly in terms of investment and trade, which are characterised by dynamic growth. Switzerland is also keen to strengthen its partnerships with regard to sustainability and digitalisation.
Switzerland and Senegal have signed agreements on trade, the protection of investments and technical cooperation. Negotiations on climate change (Art. 6 Paris Agreement) are currently under way and should be concluded in the near future. Relations in the field of migration are not formalised, but are good.
Security and stability across West Africa are of concern to Switzerland. Multilateral cooperation with Senegal is particularly fruitful, especially in the areas of water, peace and security and the prevention of violent extremism. The fight against impunity and cooperation at the International Criminal Court are also important pillars of the two countries' relations.
Switzerland is Senegal's second most important export partner after Mali. In 2019 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 618 million, an increase of 20% compared with 2018. Switzerland's exports included non-electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, textiles and vehicles.
About 20 Swiss companies currently have offices in Senegal. The Swiss embassy in Dakar notes however growing interest from Swiss firms seeking to invest in and/or export to Senegal.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Switzerland is supporting Senegal in its efforts to introduce a dual vocational education and training system. Senegalese students can also benefit from the Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) programme of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. In 2016 some 4,000 students enrolled. Numerous exchanges already exist between universities and research institutes in the two countries, and these will be further intensified with the launch of the Excellence in Africa and African City Lab programmes, both of which receive Swiss government support.
Lastly, researchers and artists in Senegal can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Swiss nationals in Senegal
At the end of 2019, 378 Swiss nationals were living in Senegal and 1,469 Senegalese nationals were living in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland opened a consulate in Dakar in 1928. At the time, there were almost 100 Swiss nationals living in Senegal. Switzerland recognised the new state of Senegal as soon as it gained independence from France in 1960. The next year, the two countries established diplomatic relations. Switzerland provided development assistance to Senegal from 1962 to 2010.