A tiny little country nested on the coast of West Africa, Senegal’s dynamic history and cultural diversity has set it apart from several other developing countries in Africa.
Recently declared an independent state from France in 1960, Senegal has been able to hold onto its myriad of cultural roots and reflect its ethnic variety through music, cuisine, and an ancient storytelling tradition.
As a member of the African Union and The Economic Community of West African States, Senegal has established itself as a growing international nation. While the benefits of completing an internship in Senegal may not be the first thing that comes to mind, the country has much to offer. With a budding economy and growing international recognition, Senegal offers some unique internship opportunities for those willing to step out of the box, and experience something completely exciting and new.
There are several internship opportunities related to human rights advocacy in Senegal. Interns and volunteers can have the chance to learn about Senegal’s intentional legal system and talk to experts in the human rights field. Senegal is a great place to make your difference in the world, all under the guidance of a local human rights group and organized internship program.
International Business and Development
Although Senegal is not well known in the U.S., many entrepreneurs and investors from Europe pay close attention to developing business opportunities in Senegal. As a relatively developed country in Africa, Senegal is a great place to test out the waters for new business. If you are interested in business, international relations, or development, Senegal is the place to go! Internship opportunities in business development will vary based on different internship program providers.
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Many internships in Senegal are relatively flexible in terms of their duration. Depending on the type of internship you have, you may choose to intern in Senegal over the summer, during a semester, or for an entire year. Some internship projects tend to be more long-term, and extend past the period of one semester.
The easiest way to intern in Senegal is to apply to an internship program. These programs often have pre-established relationships with local businesses and organizations, as well as other resources to ease your transition in Senegal. Be sure to do your research and ask any questions you have early on.
Cost of Living in Senegal
The cost of living in Senegal is much less than that in the U.S. With the conversion rate of 1 CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF) approximately equal to 0.00198 U.S. dollars, most travelers from abroad will not find themselves with any financial burden. With that said, living in the city center in Dakar will still be noticeably more expensive compared to other towns. International products also tend to be more costly.
Here are some examples of costs in Senegal are reported with the estimated U.S. Dollar equivalent to avoid giving you a headache. For a detailed breakdown of costs in Senegal, see NUMBEO.
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Center: $860
- 1 pair of jeans: $98
- 1 bottle of water: $1.33
- 1 way transportation ticket: $0.50
Work and Labor Laws in Senegal
Most of the attention to Senegal’s labor laws has been directed to the country’s newer policies and programs to eliminate child labor. Issues with Senegal’s work and labor conditions have inspired many human rights platforms and projects. With that said, most internships in Senegal are unpaid, especially since the country is still battling high unemployment rates.
The majority of Senegal’s population is Muslim, and observant of Islamic tradition. The influence of religion is extremely noticeable in the culture: the Senegalese place high value on hospitality and positive communication. Greetings are an extremely important aspect of Senegalese culture, as well as a sign of respect, so be sure to shake hands with everyone whenever you walk into a new space.
Also, always use your right hand when you eat or shake hands with others to avoid disrespect, and avoid confrontation at all costs. The Senegalese people are extremely friendly and polite, although they tend to communicate with each other rather indirectly.
Due to Senegal’s heavy French influence, French remains the official language of the country, and is often used in schools and businesses. However, Wolof, a native language of some Senegalese people, is more prominently spoken in local atmospheres. In that respect, it may be easiest to first brush up on your French, and then take on the challenge of picking up bits of Wolof to help with you cope with any communication woes.
Building personal relationships with your fellow interns and co-workers is simply another great way to get to know more people and possibly learn more about a different worldview. Professional networking is also quite popular, especially in the major cities such as Dakar. Some internship programs may provide special networking opportunities for interns to meet with professionals or work directly with them.