Last updated: 13 March, 2013

Lebanon to strengthen ties with Senegal

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said Wednesday he wanted to “expand and enhance” economic partnership with Senegal on the second day of a visit to the west African nation.

Lebanon, and especially Lebanese ex-pats, are already investing heavily in Senegal across a wide variety of sectors including food products, textiles, chemicals, plastics and rubber.

“We will work with the (Senegalese) authorities to put in place the necessary mechanisms, conventions and agreements to develop and expand the scope of our cooperation,” Sleiman was quoted as saying by the Senegalese Press Agency.

Sleiman, speaking at a Senegal-Lebanon economic forum in Dakar, had arrived Tuesday to “strengthen and raise the level of bilateral relations”, he said, noting that Senegal and Africa “are important for Lebanon”.

Lebanese settlers first arrived in Senegal in the 1860s, taking jobs as street vendors before moving into the trade in peanuts, the main product grown in Senegal, eventually supplanting the French colonialists.

Abourisk Samir, a Lebanese community leader, told AFP up to 30,000 people originating from the Arabic-speaking republic were currently thought to be living in Senegal.

“The Lebanese control 50 to 60 percent of Senegalese economy, across all sectors,” he added, citing figures from the World Bank.

The community got its first representative in government last April in the shape of Ecology Minister Haidar El Ali.