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DAKAR, SENEGAL - During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in Senegal usually rush to the bakeries in the afternoon to buy bread for breaking the daily fast. That habit risked spreading the coronavirus. To reduce the risk, the government has banned the sale of bread at shops and launched a delivery program.
The coronavirus lockdown has hurt many businesses in Senegal, but bakeries are still booming, as the Muslim-majority nation breaks the daily fast for the holy month of Ramadan.
Authorities closed most bakeries in Dakar to walk-in traffic to prevent crowds from forming and spreading the coronavirus.
Instead, Dakar residents are getting their bread loaves from a delivery program in the capital called "Sell Me Your Bread."
Papa Amadou Sarr leads the Rapid Entrepreneurship Delegation, the government organization that manages the program. He says people go online to book the bread or use phone numbers where they call to order the bread, two, three, or four hours prior to the time for breaking the fast. Young entrepreneurs pick up the bread and deliver to families and households everywhere in Dakar, he said.
The program also gives loans to support delivery companies like Yobante Express, which hired 10 more people to meet the demand.
According to Oumar Basse, co-founder of the program, they are receiving a very large flow of calls for this project, and so, they have gained competence. He says they are constantly thinking of suitable equipment to be able to meet the demands of the Senegalese, because the issue of bread is very sensitive in Senegal, as the Senegalese are very good consumers of bread, especially during Ramadan.
Bakery customers have welcomed the delivery service.
Adiaratou Ndiaye, a customer and grandmother of two, says with the coronavirus, now they're all confined, and it's better to stay at home. So, this is an initiative that is really welcomed, she said.
Dakar's "Sell Me Your Bread" program is being tested throughout the month of Ramadan. If successful, authorities plan to extend the service across Senegal for as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.