Prime Minister Stephen Harper promoted Friday trade possibilities with Senegal during a trip to the African country ahead of an international summit for French-speaking countries.

Harper and Senegalese President Macky Sall announced an economic development pact that would make it easier for Canadians to do business in Senegal, and vice versa.

The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement will help citizens and businesses more easily invest in each country, fostering a friendlier business environment.

Harper said Friday that while Canada’s relationship with Senegal has been primarily based on humanitarian aid, there has been an increase in trade in recent years. In 2011, trade between the two countries reached $29 million, the vast majority of which was Canadian exports to Senegal.

“Senegal is taking important strides toward a more robust and transparent economy,” Harper said in a statement. “The initiatives we are announcing today will support our efforts to promote greater trade and investment between our two countries and a more accountable and friendly business environment.”

CTV News correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian, who is in Dakar, Senegal, with the prime minister, said Harper sees potential for growth in the African nation. “He really sees that there is an opportunity, at least the potential, (for Senegal) to become a hub for Canadian businesses in that region of Africa,” Hamamdjian told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday.

The Summit of La Francophonie -- taking place in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- is a meeting between leaders of French-speaking countries and is held every two years.

Harper said he would also use the summit to express his concerns about human rights issues in Congo, where sexual assault is frequently used as a weapon in the battle between the military and rebels.

Harper said Canada has made its stance on Congo’s human rights failings clear, sidestepping a question about why he did not boycott the summit.

"Minister Bernard Valcourt has already visited Congo to express our concerns about human rights violations and we will express these preoccupations very clearly in that respect," Harper said, according to The Canadian Press.

"And it will be very clear."

With files from The Canadian Press