The GOS is developing its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Since liberalization 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. Targets include growing the digital sector up to 10 percent of Senegal’s GDP by 2025 and creating 54,000 direct and 162,000 indirect jobs.
The Government created an independent regulatory agency for the telecommunications sector in early 2002 - the Agency for Telecommunications and Postal Regulation (ARTP). In addition to regulating providers of telecommunications services, ARTP assigns and controls band spectrum. The cell phone base, the leading segment of the telecommunications market, totaled 19 million lines in the fourth quarter of 2020 (for 17 million people), an increase of 2.4 percent compared to third quarter of 2020. Internet usage is dominated by 2G/3G/4G mobile internet users, who accounted for 98 percent of the overall market as of December 31, 2020. Senegal is experiencing increased availability of 3G/4G fiber optic services in the country, and limited 5G testing in Dakar. According to ARTP, the internet penetration rate was 88 percent at end-September 2020. Senegal 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, 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 consumer prices. 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 electrical apparatus for line telephony and line telegraphy reached $151.7 million in 2020. All major U.S. brand names are well-represented via their regional offices (IBM and Hewlett Packard) or via local distributors and/or agents.
Mobile Services – The mobile services market divides into three operators: As of Q1 2018, with 52 percent of the market share Orange (Sonatel) is the number one operator. With 25 percent, Free Senegal (formely Tigo) is the number two operator. Expresso Senegal/Sudatel has more than 3 million active subscribers with 23 percent market share is number three operator. Key developments in the market include: Orange Senegal completed second 5G tests with Nokia as partner; Free deployed 5G pilot network, partners with Avanti Communications to build a satellite gateway; and Expresso launches e-money platform. Principal companies with fiber optic infrastructure are Orange, 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.
Financial Tech – The mobile money subsector in Senegal is widespread, with financial services concentrated in urban centers but growing in rural areas. U.S. money transfer app Wave, known for its cost-effective ease of use, competes with French-owned Sonatel/Orange money, along with some smaller providers. Digital payment methods are continuing to grow across sectors in innovative ways. The GoS for example, paid per diem and salaries to certain employees and the Agency for Universal Coverage launched an agenda to digitize payments in the medical sector.
International fiber links have made broadband services cheaper by providing more reliable and affordable international bandwidth. Growing demand for innovative mobile financial services and solutions appropriate for local dynamics presents opportunities in this emerging market. Future investment in ICT aligns with the GOS plans for its Digital Strategy 2025.