Although the British Council did not open an office in Senegal until 1973 it had contributed to the running of the British-Senegalese Institute in Dakar, which opened in January 1968.
President Senghor and his ministers had a ‘prejudice for English accents’ and wished to establish a British Institute in Dakar. In 1964 Senghor requested an English teacher be appointed to the National Assembly to teach English to government officials. The British Council recruited one of their officers to the post.
In March 1965 the UK’s Overseas Development Ministry drew up a Technical Assistance Agreement with Senegal – the first between the UK and a foreign state. Two years later President Senghor asked the British Ambassador for help establishing a British Institute. He offered to provide a site and an annual grant, to compliment the ODM funding.
Following an ODM-Council inspection in May 1967 the project was agreed. The construction of the Institute began in July, though it was delayed due to the employment of an inexperienced architect. The Institute opened in temporary premises in January 1968 under the directorship of John Amery. The Council’s role was to advise on and supervise the educational activities and appoint the teachers. Co- operation between the Senegalese and UK partners was exemplary, with the President and the Ambassador sitting on the Institute Board.
In 1972 the direction of the Institute, now in its permanent premises at Rue de 18 Juin, BP 6025, changed to focus on teacher training and intensive courses for UK-bound technical assistance trainees. Teaching would henceforth be limited to the Senegalese civil service..
Deryck Nuttall, the first Representative and Cultural Attaché to Senegal, opened a British Council office at 38 Boulevard de la Republique, Dakar in May 1973. He oversaw the Institute’s work and regular inspections, ran Technical Assistance training and book promotion activities and built relationships with American agencies. Since the British Ambassador to Senegal was responsible for diplomatic relations with Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Mauritania, the Representative also worked in these countries; the Cape Verde Islands and Guinea were soon added to this list. Nuttall and his small staff ran into some teething problems. Firstly his Land Rover took over a year to arrive from the British Council depot. Secondly he had an initially difficult relationship with the ODM (who provided all funding) which rejected his advice and proposals.
By 1976 the Council had recruited posts to both the University of Dakar (the first non-French academic ever employed there) and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (teacher training college), and regular ELT radio broadcasts were organised. It was decided to move the British Council office into the Institute – thus allowing the British Council to set up a library there and host more activities. In November 1979 the Council moved into a newly-built annex of the Institute, but almost immediately – in August 1980 – moved into the Embassy. The global recession and consequent budget cuts meant they had to save funds. The British Council’s relationship with the Institute continued for many years: the library was soon established and, in 1986, the first Senegalese Director was appointed to the Institute.