5. Protection of Property Rights
The Senegalese Civil Code provides a framework, based on French law, for enforcing private property rights. The code provides for equality of treatment and non-discrimination against foreign-owned businesses. Senegal has systems for title to real property and registration of land ownership, but application is uneven. Outside of urban areas, there are also locations where land tenure is governed by custom rather than law. Confirming ownership rights to real estate can be difficult. But once established, ownership is protected by law.
The government has undertaken several reforms to make it easier for investors to acquire and register property. It has streamlined procedures and reduced associated costs for property registration. The government has developed new land tenure models that are intended to facilitate land acquisition by resolving conflicts between customary tenure and formal land ownership. If the new models are widely adopted, the government and donors expect they will facilitate land acquisition and investment in the agricultural sector while providing benefits to traditional landowners in local communities.
The government generally pays compensation when it takes private property through eminent domain actions. Commercial banks can and do make mortgage loans, but the majority of households in Senegal do not have bank accounts. Senegal’s housing finance market is underdeveloped and few long-term mortgage financing vehicles exist. There is no secondary market for mortgages or other bundled revenue streams. The judiciary is inconsistent when adjudicating property disputes. Senegal ranked 142nd out of 190 countries in the 2017 Doing Business indicator for registering property.
Intellectual Property Rights
Senegal maintains a legal framework for protection of intellectual property (IP), but there is not sufficient institutional capacity to implement this framework and enforce IP protections. Senegal has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since its inception. Senegal is also a member of the African Organization of Intellectual Property (OAPI), a grouping of 15 francophone African countries with a common system for obtaining and maintaining protection for patents, trademarks, and industrial designs. Local statutes recognize reciprocal protection for authors or artists who are nationals of countries adhering to the 1991 Paris Convention on Intellectual Property Rights.
Patents are protected for 20 years and an annual charge is levied during this period. Registered trademarks are also protected for a period of 20 years. Trademarks may be renewed indefinitely by subsequent registrations. Senegal is a signatory to the Bern Copyright Convention. The Senegalese Copyright Office, part of the Ministry of Culture, attempts to enforce copyright obligations. The bootlegging of music cassettes and CDs is common and of concern to the local music industry. The Copyright Office has taken actions to combat media piracy, including seizure of counterfeit cassettes and CD/DVDs.
Despite an adequate legal and regulatory framework, Senegal’s enforcement of intellectual property rights is weak. In general, government agencies lack capacity to combat IPR violations or to seize counterfeit goods. Customs screening for counterfeit goods coming from China, Nigeria, Dubai, and other centers of illegal production is weak. Confiscated goods occasionally re-appear in the market. Nonetheless, the government has made efforts to raise awareness of the impact of counterfeit products on the Senegalese marketplace, and officers have participated in training provided by manufacturers to identify counterfeit products.