Culture has long been considered a vehicle for self-determination and development in Senegal. Such perspective can be traced back to the early days of independence with the first president of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor and his literary ideal of Négritude which paved a way for cultural emancipation. Senegal was also one of the first Francophone Sub-Saharan countries to create a Ministry of Culture in 1966.
This long-standing concern for the cultural sector has been translated more recently with government initiatives such as the Letter of Sectoral Policy for the development of Culture and Communication (2016) which aims, over the next five years, to make these sectors “a lever for economic and social development and for national cohesion to promote cultural diversity, peace and democracy”.
Today, Senegal benefits from a dynamic cultural sector. In 2013, the country exported US$ 2.15 million worth of cultural goods (UNESCO Institute of Statistics) with the music industry making international headlines and musicians such as Youssou N’Dour breaking into global markets. Senegal is also host to important regional art events such as the Dakar Art Biennale, and Dakar is becoming a hub for digital creativity.
In recent years, UNESCO has supported Senegal to boost the cultural and creative industries of the country with the inter-agency project “Strengthening the Creative Industries in Five ACP Countries Through Employment and Trade Expansion” (2009) and through the International Fund for the Diversity of Culture which has financed 3 projects from NGOs in Senegal. Building on these past initiatives, this capacity building action provides an opportunity to further assess the needs of cultural professionals and map the state of affairs of the cultural sector in the country while defining new priorities for the coming years.
The consultation meeting was organized on February 29, 2016 and the training workshop between 1-3 March 2016 in Dakar with the support of the UNESCO Office and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. At least 70 participants from different ministries and civil society organizations, namely professional associations and cultural actors in the cinema, music, performing arts and the media, participated in the consultation held on 1 March at le Grand Théâtre National in Dakar. Between 2 –3 March 2016 , the training workshop in periodic reporting gathered 26 participants from the national team and was divided into different groups in line with the monitoring areas of the quadrennial periodic report. Additionally, a restrained editorial board was officially established by the Ministry of Culture and Communication in order to ensure that the required information and data would be collected for the elaboration of the first Senegalese periodic report. Additional training and information sessions were also organized for representatives of Regional Cultural Centres, and the cultural press on the main objectives of the 2005 Convention.
The drafting of the periodic report took place from March to June 2016. A restitution session was held on 27 June 2016 at Maison de la Culture Douta Seck gathering mostly members of the national team to discuss and validate the work accomplished, prior to the submission of the report to UNESCO on 29 June 2016. One of the main points highlighted during the discussion was the strong role of civil society in collecting the necessary information to feed into periodic report. This was due to the overwhelmingly large presence of artists and representatives of civil society organizations within the national team. The public presentation and debate of the first periodic report of Senegal was held in Dakar on 7 December 2016. On this occasion, Mr Ibrahima Wane, professor at the University of Dakar (UCAD) and member of the national team reminded, "this process of participatory writing was not only a manual task in inventory checking or an archeology of Senegal’s cultural policies, but a real work of reflection and analysis." A series of action were proposed to pursue the effective implementation of the 2005 Convention, in particular by raising its awareness amongst cultural actors, by organizing annual tripartite meetings involving the Ministry of Culture and Communication, financial and technical partners and civil society and by regularly assessing the impact of measures and policies included in Senegal’s first periodic report.