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The Senegal National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSS) and Agence Française de Développement have just signed a partnership agreement for the Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Dakar in 2022. Laëtitia Habchi, Deputy Director of the Social Cohesion Unit and Sport & Development advisor at AFD, outlines the potentially wide-ranging ramifications.
Laetitia Habchi AFD Advisor on Sport and Development
© Alain Goulard / AFD


This is the first time that the Youth Olympics are being organized in Africa. What benefits can we expect for Senegal and the continent?

Sport today accounts for 2% of world GDP, but in Africa, it’s only 0.5% of GDP. These Youth Olympics provide an opportunity to highlight Africa’s diversity, and to increase investment opportunities in the sport sector. 

These Games are fully in line with the economic and social development strategy of Senegal: the country will benefit from spin-offs from the consumption generated by the event, new job opportunities for young people, but also from the facilities that have been renovated for the occasion, which Senegalese people will be able to use in the future.

For example, the Senegalese Government has decided to renovate the historic Iba Ba Mar Diop stadium in Dakar, rather than build new facilities in another city. It wants to take advantage of this to transform community spaces near the stadium and thereby strengthen social cohesion there, by creating jobs and socio-educational activities linked to sport. The organizers of the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympics want to leave a “people’s legacy”. 

Building on its experience in organizing major sports events, France – with AFD in a lead role – will be assisting Senegal with the event in the approach to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.  

What is the objective of the partnership signed between AFD and the Senegal National Olympic and Sports Committee?

The idea is to make these Youth Olympic games an event that provides lasting benefits to young people, and to ensure it’s in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. We are working on this with CNOSS, which is the key player in the organization of these Games.

In practical terms, AFD is committed to supporting both the public and private sectors in Senegal, but also civil society, to finance sports facilities and projects that will spur social engagement in neighborhoods and cities.

We want to take advantage of the dynamics created by this event, for the opportunities it can bring to the sport sector in Senegal and, more generally, in Africa. We hope it will help in the development of sporting activities for all, and support various sports sectors, training for coaches, as well as sports education. These are AFD’s three main pillars, which stand at the center of our Sport & Development activity.

Why is sport important for AFD?

For us at AFD, sport is a discipline that has an impact on at least 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We started this activity with strong initiatives, such as the partnership with the NBA (National Basketball Association), which promotes education through sport in six African countries. This was followed by support for microprojects in the sport sector led by civil society organizations, with assistance from The European Guild.

We subsequently signed an agreement with FIFA last June, which aims to promote women’s football at school. We will continue to build on this momentum with the Paris 2024 Games to ensure they apply environmental and social best practices.

The international community is showing growing interest in sport and its positive impacts for development. We invite all players in the world of sport, as well as development actors, to join us on the “Sport & Development” platform, which we will launch in June 2020. The aim is to see how we can take things further, together.