Senegal - Country Commercial Guide
Telecommunications

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-10-08

Overview

The GOS is developing the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector as a national initiative. Since liberalization of the sector in the 1990s, the country has transformed into a leader in West Africa for developed and modern telecommunications infrastructure. The country ranks 14th in Africa for Network Readiness.  In 2016, the GOS took steps to advance the sector by adopting the National Digital Economy Strategy 2025, which aims to make the country a hub for digital transformation in the region and beyond.  The targets include increasing digital up to 10 percent of Senegal’s GDP by 2025 and creating 54,000 direct and 162,000 indirect jobs. The ICT sector in Senegal accounted for five percent of GDP in 2017.

An independent regulatory agency for the telecommunications sector – the Agency for Telecommunications and Postal Regulation (ARTP) — was created in early 2002.  Besides regulating providers of telecommunications services, the Agency assigns and controls band spectrum. Within ICT, mobile and cable broadband services are popular markets.  The number of mobile subscribers since 2016 has increased by almost 8 percent; 15 million mobile subscribers in 2016 to 16 million at the end of 2018. In 2018, market penetration for mobile cellular devices reached 104 percent. About 9.6 million Senegalese have access to the internet representing 63 percent of the population. Senegal is experiencing increased availability of 3G/4G services in the country. According to telecom regulatory agency ARTP, the internet penetration rate was 68 percent in 2019. The country connects to more than 40 countries through four submarine fiber optic cables:  Main One, Atlantis-2, SAT-3/WASC, and the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable.   

Despite market growth, certain challenges remain such as limitations of fixed infrastructure and a mobile sector dominated by consumers with low purchasing power. Most consumers in Senegal use prepaid mobile services in contrast to contract-based services. Competition amongst mobile service providers has lowered the prices per user. Market consumers also mainly rely on smartphone services for internet access, which decreases demand for fixed home connections.

The Senegalese computer and telephone markets are very competitive. Total imports for the two sectors reached $98 million in 2017. All major U.S. brand names are well-represented via their regional offices (IBM and Hewlett Packard) or via local distributors and/or agents. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Mobile Services – The coverage rate of mobile broadband services in 2017 was 90 percent. The mobile services market divides into three operators: in 2017, Orange held 53 percent of the market, Tigo (now Free) 25 percent, and Expresso 22 percent. All three mobile operators have launched 3G services and a range of value-added services. Sonatel the historic public operator of telecommunications in Senegal currently works under the brand, Orange, a French-based company. Orange has launched 4G and 4G+, while Tigo/Free obtained its 4G License in 2018.

Cable Services – In 2017, Senegal’s bandwidth was 23 Gigabytes/second (Gb/s).  Main companies with fiber optic infrastructure are Sonatel, Free, WAW, Expresso, and ADIE, the State Information Agency.  Senegal is an expected landing stop for the planned 2Africa cable, developed by an international consortium including Facebook, which may lead to opportunities for carrier-neutral data centers and fiber-optic cable landing centers.    

Digital Health – Impactful digitization is revamping access to universal health coverage in Senegal. In 2018, Mahammad Abdallah Dionne, former Prime Minister and Secretary General launched an agenda for the digitization of payments by instigating the Agency for Universal Coverage (CMU) to boost medical care. The initiative released a platform in May 2019, sunucmu.com, to allow for digital payments and increase transactions and access to welfare. 

Biometric Data – In 2016, Senegal introduced the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC). Senegal became the first country to adopt the card. The ENBIC allows free movement of people, goods, and service. Ghana, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau are currently the only countries to enforce the use of the ENBIC. 

Financial Tech – In May 2019, fintech company Wari collaborated with WhatsApp to make it easier for consumers to engage in financial transactions worldwide. The Wari app allows clients to pay bills and buy mobile phone credit. Stakeholders in fintech consider the regulatory frameworks and partnerships with owners of internet cable services difficult to navigate. The subsector is widespread; the adult population (aged 15+) in Senegal with mobile money accounts grew from 6 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2017.  Financial services are highly concentrated in urban centers, even though demand and usage are growing at a similar rate in rural areas. In 2017, six departments in Senegal had fewer than five access points per 10,000 inhabitants, indicating unmet demand for financial services in rural populations.  

Opportunities

International fiber links have made broadband services cheaper by providing more reliable and affordable international bandwidth.  Growing demand for mobile financial services presents opportunities for further revenue diversification. Future investment in ICT aligns with the GOS plans for its Digital Strategy 2025.

Web Resource

https://www.sec.gouv.sn/dossiers/