A Practical Guide to the Way of Life in Senegal

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  • Daiki Saito

    Only a motorsports rallye? As an expat, I learned a lot about Senegal's green energy sector: InterNations lets me share my knowledge.

Life in Senegal

Transportation in Senegal

Compared with other West African countries, Senegal has an extensive and highly developed road system, with motorways and paved roads reaching all of the urban areas and many of the rural regions. Many of the built areas do experience heavy traffic, though, particularly in Dakar, and so local residents and expatriates living in Senegal often prefer to use one of the numerous, cheap taxis to get around the cities.

Typically, you can drive on the roads with an international driver’s license or, depending on your country of origin, even your national license. However, you can also convert it into a Senegalese license if your country of origin has a policy in place with the Senegalese government.

You will be driving on the right hand side of the road, a throwback from when it was a French colony. You may find driving difficult in the rainy season, and in some cases only 4x4s can pass certain roads when they have flooded. As an alternative means of transportation, Senegal also has an extensive rail network covering 906 km across the country and crossing into neighboring Mali.

Safety and Security in Senegal

Although safer and more secure than many other West African nations, Senegal still has a high rate of petty street crime, including theft, robbery, and scams. Be sure to keep your money and important belongings in safe compartments, and be aware of pickpockets in crowded, urban areas like markets or busy streets.

Also ensure that you carry some identification, like your passport or visa, at all times as the Senegalese police are known for stopping expatriates and non-locals, and they will ask to see your identification.

However, as a Muslim with country with a high regard for ‘teranga‘ or hospitality, you will find that most people are friendly, welcoming, and hospitable to expatriates and non-local residents living in Senegal.

Healthcare in Senegal

Healthcare in Senegal is of a good standard, particularly in the Dakar and other developed, urban areas. Senegal has both a public and private healthcare system available to expats working and living in the country.

The public healthcare system is not part of social security, but is paid for separately through mandatory health insurance collected from your income. Your employer should enroll you in this plan when you start working and earning. However, you must have made two months´ worth of contributions before you can use the public healthcare system.

If you would like take out private healthcare insurance then you are also entitled to do so; this will not be done by your employer but must be done separately by yourself either before you arrive or when you are in the country. The main health risk is malaria, and expatriates living in Senegal are advised to get vaccinated before entering the country.

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  • Daiki Saito

    Only a motorsports rallye? As an expat, I learned a lot about Senegal's green energy sector: InterNations lets me share my knowledge.

  • Lastri Sasongko

    As an expat in West Africa, I appreciate Dakar's contemporary art exhibitions -- I love making discoveries with my InterNations friends.

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