Unveiling Senegal's Vibrancy: A trip with the Dutch Ambassador

Embark on a captivating journey through the dynamic landscapes of Senegal, as the Dutch Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work shares his immersive exploration from December 11 to 13, 2023. This travel report unveils the multifaceted tapestry of Senegal, weaving together stories of culture, migration, and the pulsating energy of its youth.

Ambassador Middelhoff spoke with young climate activists at Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement (JVE) in Dakar about the challenges of climate change, the outcomes of COP28 and the involvement of youth.

Culture as a Catalyst for Expression

The journey begins amidst the vibrant hues of graffiti art in Dakar's historic Medina neighborhood. Led by the association Yataal Art, the Ambassador, alongside local artists, strolled through narrow alleys adorned with powerful visual narratives. From discussions with artists emerged a rich understanding of the challenges and aspirations of Dakar's young creatives.

Demographic Landscape

Senegal, a country bursting with youth, reveals a paradoxical scenario. With 75% of its population under 35, the sheer vitality of its demographic makeup is both an asset and a challenge. Almost 300,000 young individuals annually step into the job market, while formal job openings lag far behind. This paradox sets the stage for a complex narrative of aspirations and hurdles.

Youth in Climate Activism

Post-COP28, Senegal's youth actively engage in climate activism, becoming stewards of a sustainable future. Joined by organizations like Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement (JVE), the Ambassador traversed Dakar's suburbs. The journey revealed local initiatives for environmental awareness and sustainable practices, showcasing the indispensable role of youth in shaping Senegal's environmental narrative.

Migration Realities

Against the backdrop of breathtaking coastlines, our journey delves into the poignant stories of returned migrants in Bargny. Seated on the sandy shores, the Ambassador engaged in emotional discussions with these resilient individuals, survivors of perilous journeys to the Canary Islands. Their tales underscore the imperative to bolster economic prospects locally, curbing the allure of distant horizons.

Entrepreneurship Challenges and Opportunities

Navigating the bustling streets of Dakar, our adventure takes a detour into the entrepreneurial realm. In a "Shark Tank" style session, the Ambassador witnessed the vibrancy of Senegal's young business minds. Fueled by the Orange Corners Innovation Fund, these entrepreneurs showcased their ventures. Yet, access to finance emerged as a critical hurdle, emphasizing the need for sustained support.

Skills Development for Labor Market Readiness

Our exploration continues in the Thiès region, where the Institut Supérieur d'Enseignement Professionnel (ISEP) beckons. Here, the Ambassador delved into the world of agri-food-focused vocational training. Discussions with young graduates underscored the challenges of marketing, access to finance, and the crucial need for practical learning opportunities.

Youth Participation Imbalances

In the heart of Dakar, our journey intersects with the quest for meaningful youth participation. The National Youth Council (CNJS) and NGOs like Consortium Jeunesse du Sénégal (CJS) play pivotal roles. The Ambassador’s exchanges with youth highlight the unbalanced representation of youth in decision-making bodies.

As we conclude our sojourn through Senegal's vibrant landscapes, the narrative unfolds beyond the tourist trails. It unravels a nation pulsating with the rhythm of its youth, facing challenges with resilience and aspiring for a brighter tomorrow. The Dutch commitment to Senegal's younger generation emerges as a crucial thread, weaving a narrative of empowerment and collaboration in this West African gem.