Senegal – News Recap for February 09


Senegal-Bonus for rice farmers

For Senegalese rice farmers like Pape Alioune Seck the food crisis is a blessing in disguise in a country that until recently imported three-quarters of this staple from Asia.”Two years ago, the Senegalese rediscovered rice from the river valley,” said the 32-year-old rice farmer.

The change is answering the dreams of the domestic farm lobby that long clamored for reduced imports — and is boosting fortunes by reviving a marginal crop.

“When the rice does well, everything does well,” says an old saying along the Senegal River delta…….


An ear for street children in Senegal – the Maison d’Ecoute

St Louis, Senegal – Thioubalo rattles away at the door. Behind it come the sounds of running water and noisy children. The 12-year-old shouts something, and you don’t have to be fluent in Wolof – most common language in the West African state of Senegal – to realise that Thioubalo finally wants his turn under the shower at the Maison d’Ecoute in the heart of the old town of St Louis.

He needs to get cleaned up. His feet and his straggly arms are dust-caked, his worn-out clothes dirty.


Biofuels: how green is the green gold rush in Senegal?

The vegetable oil Jatropha was originally native to central America. Today, it is cultivated in many African and Asian countries. Its oil is used to produce fuel. Private European real estate developers have now set their sights on this ‘green gold’ because Europe does not have enough land to satisfy its biofuel needs, and fulfil its new objective: by 2020, 20% of the total energy consumption of the 27 countries should be made up of sustainable energy.

Jatropha seeds: oil for fuel (Image: Alexandre Polack)Jatropha seeds: oil for fuel (Image: Alexandre Polack)

Africa is becoming the playing field for a rush of European real estate developers seeking many thousands of hectares of land. Some leaders have been convinced that for their non-oil producing states (for which the Pan-African Non-Petroleum Producers Association aka PANPP was established in 2006), this is an historic opportunity to ensure massive incomes. One such leader is the president of the republic of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, after becoming fascinated by Brazil’s transformation into the world’s principal producer and exporter of biofuel.


International students face travel hurdles

Mamour Ba just wants to finish his degree. The Senegalese Ph.D. candidate came to Lehigh in 2003 to study electrical engineering. But when Ba decided to visit family in Senegal three years later, he began to learn what many other international students at Lehigh have: the United States immigration and visa process can be difficult and inhospitable.

Ba wasn’t allowed to return to the United States. Almost three years of haggling with the U.S. State Department finally produced a new visa, but it was revoked again before he could restart his studies at Lehigh.

“I was shocked,” Ba wrote in an email from Senegal. “I was thinking that it was a joke.” When Ba asked for a reason, the State Department referenced a section of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act called “terrorist activities.”

“This accusation is not only a big mistake but also it is so insulting,” Ba wrote.


More Senegal articles next month.

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