Senegal - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing
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Methods of Payment

New-to-market U.S. exporters may request an irrevocable confirmed letter of credit drawn on one of the major banks to mitigate payment risks. However, the associated fees are high.   Large Senegalese importers often have sources of foreign exchange outside Senegal; consequently, they can offer credit documents issued by non-Senegalese banks. 

For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.

Senegal’s banking system is governed by the Central Bank (BCEAO) common to the eight members (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, (WAEMU or UEMOA).  Along with BCEAO, the “Commission Bancaire” is a supranational supervisory entity created in April 1990 to control financial institutions.  The eight-member monetary union uses the CFA franc (XOF) as its currency. The French Treasury guarantees the conversion rate to the Euro. Member countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union are required to keep at least 50 percent of their foreign exchange reserves in the French Treasury.  This arrangement places representatives of the French Treasury on the board of BCEAO and allows the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to issue aid denominated in Euros rather than the CFA franc.

There are 26 registered banks in Senegal.  Senegal’s banking sector has attracted several foreign entrants keen to use Dakar as an anchor for regional expansion.  They include Nigerian banks such as United Bank of Africa (UBA), First National Bank and Diamond Bank, Attijari Bank, and Bank of Africa from Morocco.  The largest commercial banks are still predominantly French, although their dominant position is somewhat threatened by new arrivals – Ecobank, UBA, and the merger of Attijari, CBAO, and Banque Senegalo-Tunisienne.  U.S. banks include Citibank which only provides corporate finance solutions while Vista Bank is launching operations in consumer banking in Senegal and several neighboring West African countries.  Moroccan banks are also very active in Senegal.  Ecobank has an impressive network spread throughout West and part of Central Africa.  Other financial institutions, such as insurance companies, a venture capital firm, and a leasing company are also present.  The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, has a regional office in Dakar.

Foreign Exchange Controls

Senegal lifted all restrictions related to foreign exchange controls in 1998.  Foreign exchange payments are no longer submitted to the Ministry of Finance for authorization but are directly executed by Senegal’s commercial banks instead.  There is free convertibility of the CFA franc via the banking system for commercial transactions.  The rate varies daily according to the Euro-U.S. dollar rate. Travelers may exchange foreign currency for CFA francs without limit at commercial banks.  Outgoing travelers may obtain a maximum of CFA Francs 6,000,000 in Euros or other foreign currencies or travelers checks, upon presentation of a valid airline ticket at banks or at privately run foreign exchange bureaus.

US Banks & Local Correspondent Banks

Citibank is the only U.S. bank with a presence in the country that provides corporate banking services.  Senegal has numerous local and international banks that maintain correspondent relationships with U.S. banks.

For more information on the banking system please read the section Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment of the Investment Climate Statement.