The CEO of hip consult followed the representative of the government of Senegal, M. Seck. Judah Levine has contracts in Nigeria and South Africa, where he helps telecommunications companies to stay ahead of the trends. He spoke about the need to move beyond traditional mobile services. It is no longer just about providing voice service (Build it and they will come is over!). There are many companies now operating in Africa, creating a competitive industry where companies have to innovate and differentiate and have an evolving business model.
Most of the markets are now much more crowded- penetration rates are very high with 100% penetration a reality that is on the way. Prices are coming down and the market is pre-paid dominant. He talked about the inevitability of FMC (fixed mobile convergence) and how to create successful data business models.
He outlined how the capacity into West Africa with all the lines coming in, but the problem remains on the ground with electricity and other concerns to getting the lines overland.
I was able to gain entry to the West and Central African Com conference and tradeshow. It was in Dakar on June 15 and 16 and brought in private sector companies to exchange ideas and discuss the state of the Telecom market in the region.
The Minister of Communication, Telecommunications and Information Communications Technologies, Moustapha Guirassy, was supposed to give the official opening keynote. He has something come up, so we heard instead from the Director of the Cabinet, M. Moustapha Dia Seck. He addressed the liberation of the market in Senegal and how the 2011 Telecommunications Act has a new code with reforms that will increase Internet Broadband access. He also spoke to how the government of Senegal is encouraging innovation to increase mobile phone services and internet access through the implementation of new initiatives such as ones that encourage public/private partnerships. Their aim to to strengthen industries in Senegal and he sees the potential impact for African and Senegalese companies to prosper.
On June 2, 2010 Senegal granted a license to a fourth telecom operator- Globacom. This Nigerian based company plans to bring a submarine cable that will bring more access to data from the US and UK. It also plans to expand this access into Mali. This move may bring prices down more for consumers as well. It may be the competition for Sonatel that will bring Internet prices down. However, as of June 2011, the company has not started offering services in Senegal.
Links to articles:
The three choices for mobile operators in Senegal are:
Ownership: According to Sonatel group report, France Telecom 42%, Republic of Senegal 27%, employees 5%, floating 26%
Marketshare: 61%, 5 million subscribers
Tigo, since 1999
Ownership: Millicom’s Sentel, Luxembourg
Expresso, since 2008
Ownership: Sudatel, Sudan
I interviewed an economist who works on Telecommunications regulations at ARTP this afternoon. He told me that ITC development is one of the 5 parts of the 2006 defined strategy for development in Senegal. There are currently three ISPs in Senegal and he said there is a need for more concurrence between companies to create more services and competition. There are no national roaming laws yet, which explains the dominance of Orange, which has much more infrastructure. They have yet to find the final right price for Sonatel/Orange to share its infrastructure. In terms of rolling out more infrastructure, the government has not yet made a decision about whether to focus on wired or wireless. His opinion was that the government should support laying the wire to meet future bandwidth capacity needs. Otherwise, he believes that there would be a shortfall to get what is needed for internet services such as streaming video.
The objective of ARTP is similar to FCC- to create competition and not have just one operator. He explained that they consider the government mandates and then work with the private sector and consumer to find the middle ground for what creates innovation and profit and what creates affordable pricing and access.
In 2008, the government opened up the market to Sudatel – Expresso- but the market has not moved yet. He said it is not clear if they will get another company into the mix yet. There was a Telecommunications Act in 2011 that has more concurrence and competition as its goal- where the different companies have to share infrastructure. However, They have to wait for the Cabinet Minister of Telecom – M. GUIRASSY- to spell out the plan for the next 3-4 years so they know what steps to take to achieve those goals.
I interviewed economist Diery Seck about his thoughts on mobile phone usage and economic development. Diery Seck has worked as a development economist for the UN, World Bank, and IDRC. He told me that he has seen a change in the past 20 years, where now there is more cooperation between sectors. He also cited an example of media people being invited to a conference, which allowed them to be participants as well as observers.
I’m taking a day off from interviewing today as I am recovering from a mild case of heat exhaustion. I didn’t feel that I was getting hot yesterday, but I was out in the midday sun interviewing women and I guess it was too much sun for me.
The interviews have been going well. When women don’t want me to use the video camera, I use the microtrack recorder (thanks Kelly!). Yesterday was quite different from my first full day because I was approaching strangers for interviews. I was in a neighborhood called “Liberty 6”, and women congregate there to find jobs as domestic workers (cleaning houses and cooking). I interviewed 12 women. I went with my brother-in-law and he helped me translate/approach people/deal with people who were feeling threatened by the sight of the camera. I always leave the camera and recording equipment in the bag and just start a conversation to explain what I am doing.
All of the women had mobile phones and their favorite part about owning one is being in touch with family. I only met one woman so far who uses “Orange/Kirene money” to send money (Halis in Wolof) to her family in the Kaolack region.
I look forward to compiling the data!
Today, I went downtown to the mobile phone marche (market). I interviewed a mobile phone vendor and a mobile phone technician. I was trying to get a sense of how the market has changed and what people are looking for. The vendor felt that he sold phones equally to women and men. He has been selling phones for 10 years, and he has seen a big growth in the industry. The technician was self-taught and he felt that the industry was a huge provider of jobs.
After the market, I went to a family friend’s sister and mother’s houses, where I got to interview 7 women. It was wonderful after the hectic morning (traffic downtown is awful) to sit and have some bene (donuts) and warm milk at his sister’s house. At his mom’s house, we interviewed a hair stylist across the street and his sister, who was very active in the last election for current President Wade. After the interviews, we shared a nice big rice plate with everyone and drank tea before heading home.
I did my first interviews with women today about their mobile usage. I am going to do a big day tomorrow with a couple friends who will help me shoot and translate. We are going to a big market that has a lot of cell phone vendors and then we will go to interview some women with a job placement agency.
This is on Rue Cheikh Anta Diop, near the Cheikh Anta Diop University. Lex agreed to let me take his photo. First, he very kindly let me sit in the shade after walking in the hot midday sun. I explained that I am researching mobile usage in Senegal. He is an independent re-seller of mobile phones- Samsung and Nokia. He goes to buy them from a wholeseller, and then comes here on this street to sell them, mostly to students waiting at the bus stop or walking by.
Lex, of Medina, Dakar, Senegal
Rue Cheikh Anta Diop
Across the Street
Up the Street