Dakar paving streets by hands, Dakar, Senegal
Dakar paving streets by hands, Dakar, Senegal - ©By Maersk Line (The bustling streets of Dakar, Senegal) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Dakar paving streets by hands

Icons use case study city info



Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

Local Government

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2011/01

The program aims at modernizing and embellishing the city of Dakar while more than 1,500 employments can be created.

The paving of the streets in the City of Dakar is an urban development project which is in keeping with the general pattern of the "Dakar Horizon 2025" policy. This project aims to organize the rebalancing of distribution networks and facilities in the city. The overall objective is to make of Dakar a modern town, in adequacy with the growth and poverty reduction strategies in Africa.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2012.

Dakar, Senegal

Size and population development
The city of Dakar has an approximate population of 1,056,009 inhabitants, according to a UN census carried out in 2011. The Metropolitan area of Dakar, however, has a population of 3,732,284 inhabitants according to Senegal’s National Agency of Statistics and Demographics. In Metropolitan Dakar, 1.85 million inhabitants are male and 1.87 million are female. It has a surface of 547 square kilometres, which indicates a great population density in comparison to the rest of Senegal, since Dakar represents only 0.3 percent of the country’s surface and twenty percent of the total population.

Population composition
There are a great variety of Senegalese ethnicities living in the region of Dakar. The wolofs are the most prominent, but the city is composed of a diversity of pulaar, sérère, mandingue, diola, soninké. There is also a sizeable community of Lebanese descent which dates back to the 1920s, as well as various people of European decent. Around 90 percent of Dakar, as in the whole of Senegal, follow Sunni Islam with Sufi influences.

Main functions
Dakar is the capital and largest city of the Independent Republic of Senegal and one of the chief seaports on the western African coast. It is located midway between the mouths of the Gambia and Senegal rivers on the south-eastern side of the Cape Verde Peninsula and is the westernmost city on the African mainland. The city itself was founded in 1857 and, as of 1902, it became the capital of French West Africa, and the later the capital of the failed Mali Federation, which existed only between 1959 and 1960. Dakar (with the commune of Gorée) played a fundamental role in several different moments of world history: as a port for the slave trade of nations like Portugal, the Netherlands, and France, and as a territory to build a Free French nations stance against the Vichy government during World War II. Nowadays, Dakar is considered part of the World Heritage cities. Culturally, Dakar has more recently been recognized for its Biennale of Contemporary Art called “Dak’Art”. It is also known for the Dakar Rally, a car competition that covered in its first year 10,000 kms, from Paris to Dakar. Until 2008, the rally had taken place between Europe and Africa, but has since moved to South America, retaining the name that echoes the Senegalese finish line.

Main industries / business
As the capital of Senegal, Dakar represents the centre for economic activity and cultural gathering. It is the headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) as well as of the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa. Economically, it concentrates 80 percent of the activity of Senegal. The traditional main industries of Dakar have been suffering difficulties, with the chemical, textile and wood industries in decline. Some of the problems have been attributed to the importation of products cheaper products from Asia or the acquisition of national companies by Asian conglomerates (e.g. Industries Chimiques du Senegal was bought in 2014 by Singapore-based Indorama). Formal and informal tertiary sector industries are developing more rapidly, with telecommunications, commerce, transportation and construction as the clearest examples of this rise. Dakar is also known for its trade of agricultural and fish products.

Sources for city budget
The city of Dakar receives its budget from the federal government of Senegal. It is comprised of tax revenues, loans and contributions by international organizations, and loans solicited to the banks. The budget is partly decentralized with a portion of it being given to the municipalities for its distribution. The local institutions are meant to use it in matters of public health, education and culture. When the unexpected arises and the budget does not reach the necessary levels, it is complemented with the taxes collected from places such as markets.

Political structure
Dakar is understood differently from a political than from an administrative perspective. Its political structure is that of a commune de ville. It is governed by an elected municipal council that is chosen every 5 years, which itself chooses the maire (mayor), who will serve as its head. In its current state, the mayor is Soham El Wardini, the first female mayor to Dakar in the history of the Independent Republic of Senegal.

Administrative structure
As one of Senegal’s 14 regions, the region of Dakar is divided into 4 arrondissements: Almadie, Dakar-Plateau, Grand Dakar, and Parcelles Assaines. Each arrondissement encompasses a number of the 19 communes d’arrondissements that serve as political structures of the city. The region approximately makes up the city, as well as its various banlieues, or to inexactly translate the word, suburbs.

Dakar, like all big capital cities in Africa, is confronted to a problem of town planning. From its position as the economic capital of Senegal, the city has to cope with a massive migration which emphasizes urban poverty. Dakar witnesses the spoiling of its environment and the anarchical occupation of its thoroughfare giving birth to diverse problems such as insalubrity. Moreover, unemployment constitutes a real plague for the youth. The unemployment rate exceeds 15% in Dakar.

The program aims at:

  • bettering the environment and living conditions of citizens through the creation of productive jobs, 
  • increasing the living standards, 
  • developing public-spiritedness among citizens, 
  • embellishing and cleaning the city, 
  • fighting against sanding over,
  • facilitating urban mobility.

One of the specific tools to this project concerns the acquisition of a software designed for the organisation and the management named Winpav. This software was specially conceived in order to collect and manage the data related to the Program of the Paving. The basic data concern district communes, streets and places, inventory of works. Other data, informed as the program goes on, are works to do, implemented equipment and materials, the employed personnel, the training of workers, the follow-up in live or off-line of works in the form of pictures or videos, the management of external services providers, the management of deadlines and incidents.

For the first time in Senegal, a program is led from the creation of the manufacture, to the taking charge of the training as well as the exploitation itself. Moreover, the quality of manufactured paving stones did not exist in Senegal before. The technology was imported from Burkina Faso, a country that has much progressed in this domain.

The innovative aspect of the project resides in the use of high intensity manpower techniques (HIM); this approach has already proved itself in Senegal through a great deal of projects that allowed creating a significant number of jobs for underprivileged classes.

The program of paving is entirely supported by the City of Dakar which assures its funding. The not-for-profit project is being piloted by the City of Dakar through its technical services especially the Direction of Urban Development and the Paving Management Unit that ensures the coordination with the executing company (the Beli Sasha Group). 

Results expected from this project are:  

  • improvement of the level of services of roads;  
  • reduction of the sanding over and the insalubrity in streets;  
  • good functioning of the cleaning network;  
  • improvement of traffic safety;  
  • improvement of incomes for underprivileged classes;  

Constraints to be apprehended concern:

  • freeing the streets occupied by the street vendors,
  • the aspect of the drainage of sewage which is not a competence transferred to the local collectivities.  

Information campaigns are led through media, focus groups in the 19 district while the City has acquired an area where to rehouse street vendors.

High intensity manpower techniques (HIM) techniques deserve to be valued. They result from a rational use of local resources especially by creating job opportunities for underprivileged classes. Pilot projects are led in many African countries and show that methods that use the HIM techniques, creating at the same time many jobs manage to produce facilities less costly compared to methods with high intensity equipments. So, HIM techniques without compromising the quality of the work are:  

  • between 10 and 30 per cent less expensive than options with stronger intensity equipment;
  • reduce expenses in currency between about 50 and 60 per cent;
  • for the same investment, create between twice and four times more jobs. That’s the reason why this method was chosen as part of this program of paving.

Paving the City of Dakar by Means of High Intensity Manpower Techniques, (Dakar, Senegal, 2011-2016), Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation

http://www.guangzhouaward.org/644/content_747.html (accessed 23 February 2016)

Paving the City of Dakar by Means of High Intensity Manpower Techniques, Urban Innovation Database

http://www.urban-innovations.org/index.php/Paving_the_City_of_Dakar_by_Means_of_High_Intensity_Manpower_Techniques (accessed 23 February 2016)

On the Map

Map placeholder

Want to know more about this project?

Guangzhou Award
Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Award

Institution | Urban Award

Photo gallery

Related case studies

Tampere: Making heritage housing more energy efficient
Tampere, Finland

Tampere: Making heritage housing more energy ef...

Tampere supports actions to make its heritage housing more energy efficient while assisting young people to gain the technical skills needed to carry out these works.

Morus Association: a grassroots approach to refugee integration
Metropolitan City of Turin, Italy

Morus Association: a grassroots approach to ref...

A community-led initiative with multi-stakeholder support to facilitate the integration of refugees outside Turin in the Lanzo Valleys.

Buenos Aires City’s Collaborative Roundtable for Innovation and Creativity
Buenos Aires (Ciudad), Argentina

Buenos Aires City’s Collaborative Roundtable fo...

The central idea of these roundtables is to engage a frank dialogue between the municipality and its citizens and to stimulate imaginative and innovative actions by senior officials.