Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Global Studies Program


Patrice M. Franko

Second Advisor

James L.A. Webb, Jr.

Third Advisor

Mouhamedoul Amine Niang


Through examination of literature, statistical analysis, and field research in Dakar, Senegal, this study explores the economic implications of an expanding Chinese presence on Senegalese retailers in the informal market of Dakar, and on Senegalese consumers of cheap goods that shop primarily in this market. Since the early 1990s, a neighborhood of Chinese storefronts selling cheap goods has developed in the Centenaire region of downtown Dakar. The Chinese entrepreneurs, primarily in Dakar for wholesale, have adapted to the demands of low-end Senegalese retailers and consumers, focusing their products on basic necessities, such as clothing, and imitation commodities, such as Islamic prayer beads. They are able to mass-manufacture these good in China under cheaper production costs than the Senegalese face, allowing Chinese traders to provide locally at lower cost the same goods Senegalese entrepreneurs used to have to travel to China to purchase. Contemporary literature suggests that, while democratizing consumption for low-income shoppers, the rock bottom prices Chinese merchants offer trigger competition between Chinese and Senegalese retailers that puts many Senegalese retailers out of business. Field research, however, contradicts these conclusions and removes the secondhand biases and inaccuracies common in the literature. Instead, firsthand research proved the Chinese presence leads to a rise in the standard of living and employment opportunities in Dakar. Thus, despite contemporary literature that argues otherwise, the gains from the Chinese presence in the informal market of Dakar, Senegal outweigh the losses for Senegalese consumers and retailers alike.


Dakar, Senegal, markets

Multimedia URL