Senegal, a country in West Africa, has a surprisingly large economy, valued at close to US$24 billion. Food production is one of the country’s biggest economic contributors, though natural resources also play an important role in generating state revenues.
A Client of mine has an oil, field and safety service company in Singapore and wanted to secure approval for a tender of a project in Senegal.
They required assistance with research on what would be the most suitable structure for their company and to decide between a limited liability company (LLC) and a branch. In essence, the Client wanted us to provide them with more clarity on what was the best corporate structure for their company setup in Senegal.
After the Client confirmed that they were going to formally engage us, we provided a draft detailed comparison table highlighting both LLC and branch. We also provided them with all the relevant information required for company setup in Senegal.
What was interesting from my perspective was being able to project manage an engagement from Singapore, for a Client based in Singapore. Company registration, bank account opening, tax registration and other formalities were handled smoothly without my Client having to travel to Senegal. We worked with a good local lawyer in Dakar, who was efficient and able to provide good knowledge for the engagement.
I’m pleasantly surprised to report that setting up a company in Senegal with any corporate structure is relatively simple and straightforward. Company incorporation is quick and bank account opening is uncomplicated once the company is registered.
Despite the simplicity of this engagement overall, there was one challenge: opening a multi-currency bank account. Most transactions through Senegalese banks are done in Central African Francs (CFA), the country’s national currency. Generally, only consulates, embassies, NGOs and related entities are granted permission to open multi-currency bank accounts by banks in Senegal. Applicants also need central bank approval.
Another takeaway from my first Senegal engagement? Most officers in the big banks speak fluent English. And having a good local lawyer is invaluable!
I’ve learned a lot from this first foray into West Africa. I look forward to working on other similar projects in the near future and perhaps also visiting this faraway land one day!
Read more about setting up a business in Senegal here.