Historically, and for primarily ideological reasons, immigration has been perceived as a positive affair. In the Senegalese national consciousness, the value of hospitality (teranga) assumes an important role. Moreover, the first president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was one of the great theoreticians of pan-Africanism, which proposed the union of all the indigenous inhabitants of Africa.
The most important immigration-related international agreement for Senegal – the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and Establishment – was signed in 1979 by the members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In addition to this, Senegal has signed a series of international legal initiatives for the protection of refugees, including the Refugee Convention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1969.
The most significant domestic policy efforts in this are have been devoted to the use of emigrant potential for development. To this end the Ministry of Senegalese Abroad (Ministère des Sénégalais de l'Extérieur) was established. Political efforts have concentrated on convincing Senegalese abroad to make productive investments in the country. On the basis of a bilateral agreement, France financed for the first time in 1983 a programme of vocational training for, and lending to, migrants abroad who wanted to return.
In 2000 the Investment Promotion and Major Works Agency (Agence pour la Promotion des Investissements et des Grands Travaux, APIX) was founded. APIX coordinates all of the administrative procedures necessary for founding a company, including import formalities, and also carries out feasibility studies. Furthermore, it assumes responsibility for managing projects in which loans are used to assist the return of emigrants from France and Germany. In contrast to the BAOS, APIX focuses not only on migrants, but also on investors in general. It also attends to more financially complex projects. Overall, the success of both state agencies appears to have been limited, due to general deficiencies in the Senegalese administration.
Given the increase in migrant remittances
In response to the large number of migrants attempting to reach the Canary Islands, Senegal has entered into talks with various European countries and the EU. In October 2006, Senegal and France signed an agreement that provided for the faster deportation of irregular migrants and made it easier for professionals, students and artists to enter France through legal channels. Several agreements were also concluded with Spain during 2006. Amongst other things, the deportation of irregular migrants was made easier and an increase in development aid was agreed to. On this basis more than 3 000 Senegalese were deported in 2006. At the end of 2006, both countries signed a forward-looking agreement which provides for the granting of 4 000 short-term work visas to Senegalese migrants over a period of two years (2007/08). As the result of an Afro-European conference in July 2006, the European Commission has been financing a project to the tune of EUR
1 016 945 to help the Senegalese authorities tighten control of irregular migration. There is also a six billion dollar project extending from 2007 to 2011 and financed by industrial countries and the African Development Bank to help fund agricultural and rural development in eight West African countries, among them Senegal. This too is influenced by the desire to curb migration.