The French colonies of Senegal and French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never implemented, and the union was dissolved in 1989. The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s. Several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict, but an unofficial cease-fire has remained largely in effect since 2012. Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until Abdoulaye WADE was elected president in 2000. He was reelected in 2007 and during his two terms amended Senegal's constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and weaken the opposition. His decision to run for a third presidential term sparked a large public backlash that led to his defeat in a March 2012 runoff with Macky SALL, whose term runs until 2019. A 2016 constitutional referendum reduced the term to five years with a maximum of two consecutive terms for future presidents.
Senegal’s economy is driven by mining, construction, tourism, fisheries and agriculture, which are the primary sources of employment in rural areas. The country's key export industries include phosphate mining, fertilizer production, agricultural products and commercial fishing and it is also working on oil exploration projects. Senegal relies heavily on donor assistance, remittances and foreign direct investment. For the first time in the past 12 years, Senegal reached a growth rate of 6.5% in 2015 and surpassed 6.6% in 2016, due in part to a buoyant performance in agriculture because of higher rainfall and productivity in the sector.President Macky SALL, who was elected in March 2012 under a reformist policy agenda, inherited an economy with high energy costs, a challenging business environment, and a culture of overspending. President SALL unveiled an ambitious economic plan, the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which aims to implement priority economic reforms and investment projects to increase economic growth while preserving macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability. Bureaucratic bottlenecks and a challenging business climate are among the perennial challenges that may slow the implementation of this plan.Senegal is receiving technical support from the IMF during 2015-17 under a Policy Support Instrument (PSI) to assist with implementation of the ESP. The PSI implementation continues to be satisfactory as concluded by the IMF’s second review mission in March 2016. Investors have signaled confidence in the country through Senegal’s successful Eurobond issuances in recent years, including in 2014.The government will focus on 19 projects under the ESP for the 2016 budget to continue the structural transformation of the economy. These 19 projects include the Thies-Touba Highway, including the new airport- Mbour-Thies Highway. Senegal will increase the national family allowances program and the community development emergency program in 2016. Electricity supply is a chief constraint for Senegal’s development. Electricity prices in Senegal are among the highest in the world. Power Africa, a program led by USAID and OPIC, plans to increase the current 500 MW of generating capacity to over 1,000 mW in the next three to five years. Recent gas discoveries on the Senegal-Mauritanian border, as well as just south of Dakar, will help alleviate some of the energy shortages.