Senegal, the Digital New Frontier

It has been at least 30 years that we speak of “Senegal, country of services”, especially in the field of ICT. Today, even if Senegal remains among the countries that count in Africa in this field thanks to the power of its main telecommunications operator, it is no longer cited as a model and is beginning to lack appeal for those wishing to invest Or invest in the ICT sector. The hopes aroused at the beginning of the decade 2000 – 2010 with the role played and the position occupied by Senegal in NEPAD disappeared: – the introductory phrase of the 2005 Sector Policy Letter of the President of the Republic “I pledged to build the road leading to the emergence of e-Senegal” seems to have remained a pious wish; – the introduction of a new telecommunications code in 2011 does not seem to have given the global ICT sector the impetus expected by the weakest players: service companies, Internet service providers, entrepreneurs wishing to invest in the Telecommunications, etc. – the award of the 3rd mobile telephony was carried out in a great opacity and is still a subject of controversy and a legal case; – the attempts to destabilize the first two operators have been repeated: sneaky blows of a sneak to Sonatel, sword of Damocles of the withdrawal of the license on the head of Sentel; – the regulator of the telecommunications sector has not been able to gain credibility and authority in the sector because it has not been able to demonstrate sufficient independence and competence; – the great intentions of the SCA (ICT cluster and teleservices) seem to have remained dead letter: – Are newcampions emerging in the sector? – what about the strategic objective, which was stated as follows: ICT activities and teleservices are the driving force behind the Senegalese economy thanks to their dynamism and competitiveness, notably through the training of 10 000 ICT and teleservice specialists and the creation of activities to raise the sector’s GDP contribution to 15 % And generate at least 240,000 jobs by 2015 “?

– has the level of intentions for the production of digital content for cultural purposes, the outsourcing of services by companies, administration and local authorities been exceeded? – What has become of the ten digital projects to build e-Senegal and e- investments in central administration, local communities, education, health, etc.? As in Senegal, we are stronger in the analysis and formulation of visions and strategies than in the formulation of concrete action plans, their implementation and their follow-up, the great ambitions declared have for the most part remained Pious wishes. Worse, Senegal is falling in a field that is essential to make the country a magnet of attraction in Africa, even in the world: the Internet high and very high bit rates. Indeed, the broadband Internet strategy seems non-existent or very unreadable, while other countries such as Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or Rwanda have clear ambitions set out in tangible action plans. Moreover, based on the comparative measurements made by NET INDEX1, Senegal is ranked in the last place in the world and in Africa in terms of Internet quality.

This worrying and abnormal situation needs to be taken very seriously and corrective measures taken immediately, given the importance of the Internet in the digital economy and its impact on economic growth. Several studies have shown the positive effects of the Internet on economic growth: a World Bank study in 2009 estimated that a 10% increase in broadband Internet penetration leads to growth of 1, 21 to 1.38% of GDP. In a more recent study – December 2011 – commissioned by GSMA2, it has been demonstrated that the release of the digital dividend and the assignment to mobile operators of the frequencies required for high-speed Internet services would have an impact on the GDP of 158 billion FCFA Between 2015 and 2020, resulting in the creation of 271,000 jobs. Beyond the figures, it is a truism to say that the very high Internet opens the field of all possible: it paves the way for all possible uses and imaginable and gives free rein to creativity and innovation . Indeed, when the network forgets itself and the technique becomes invisible and disappears behind the usages, everything becomes possible and then “one hundred flowers can flourish and one hundred schools compete”. Understanding this, the United Nations, through ITU and UNESCO, created the Commission on Broadband for Digital Development and launched the “broadband” challenge on 25 October 2011 by calling for:

- the world's leaders to take the necessary steps to ensure that at least 50% of people in developing countries and 40% of households in developing countries use high-speed Internet by 2015 and that all consumers Countries have access to broadband Internet at an affordable price;
- the ICT industry to develop innovative business models to make this vision a reality;
- governments to make broadband policy a universal issue and define the policy and regulatory frameworks that will ensure that the sector operates in a stable regulatory environment that enables it to operate, prosper and tap broadband In the interest of sustainable human development;
- Governments to develop policies and targets for e-health and e-learning at the national level to encourage the demand for broadband services.
- Governments and civil society, through a fully inclusive and consultative process, to encourage the production of local content and the development of services and applications in local languages ​​in the service of an inclusive digital world. To make it clear that the digital divide is going to be less and less to be connected and those that are not, but rather between those who are up and very high and those who are not.
Moreover, although Senegal's leadership in ICT in Africa tends to weaken, the country still has strong assets and can draw from the rich history of the ICT sector the inspiration needed to do its job. Digital aggiornamento.
Indeed, in the field of ICTs, Senegal has often been a forerunner in Africa and has on several occasions made remarkable achievements, taken bold initiatives:

- the national telecommunications days of 1982 or 1983 are the foundation of the modern history of ICT in Senegal: the government and the actors of the sector then took the historic, audacious and rare decision to separate the sector The post office of telecommunications; This led to the creation of Sonatel in 1985 and made it an entity with management autonomy;

- Allied with a virtuous and far-seeing management of the company, other decisions and attitudes of the rulers such as the real autonomy left to the managers in the operational management of the company, the privatization in 1997 before liberalizing going against - current of the dogmas of Bank Manque, have allowed Sonatel to develop inside and outside our borders and make Senegal a reference in telecommunications in Africa. Courageous and salutary decisions and attitudes, as sophisticated observers in the telecommunications sector know that there are practically no countries with a developed telecommunication network without a strong historical operator;
- in terms of advanced services and services for businesses, Senegal has always been at the forefront with videotex since 1988, audiotex, corporate data communication services with the SENPAC services network in 1988 Followed by the IP network in 1997, the launch of the mobile in 1886, the Internet access point in 1996, ADSL in 2003, TVADSL in 2006, etc.
- with regard to the development of national and international infrastructures and regional planning,

– analogue submarine cables – as of 1977 – and digital (Atlantis 2 in 2000 with 20 Gbit / s capacity, SAT3 in 2002 with 380 Gbit / s, ACE in 2012 with 5.2 Tbit / International standard; – the choice in 1990 of fiber optic technology for the construction of the national transmission network; – in order to realize the importance given to serving rural areas, a clear, measurable and friendly goal for the time was defined in 1990 as part of the contract between Sonatel and the State: “In 2005, each Senegalese Should be less than an hour’s walk from a walking phone. ” Moreover, the telecommunication sector’s share of the national economy remains high: with nearly 7% of GDP in 2009, more than 12% contribution to the state’s budgetary revenues and more than 50 000 direct and indirect jobs. Indirectly created, it is by far the most prosperous of the national economy, but also, through the receipts from incoming international traffic, among those which favorably influence the balance of goods and services. In sum, the decades 1980 – 1990 and 1990 – 2010 were those of building foundations of the ICT sector with the preeminence of telecommunications operators; Missed opportunities, pious wishes, disappointed hopes, smoky theories and, very concretely, the beginning of the decline of Senegal’s leadership in Africa. The current decade is marked by the acceleration of the phenomena which were born during the 2000:

– the emergence of new players, followers of the cuckoo strategy, pushing the established order and traditional operators with new economic models; The GAFA (Google Amazon Facebook Apple) are the emblematic representatives; – “commoditisation” of the basic services of telecommunications operators; – new uses: payment and mobile banking, social networks, internet of objects, multiple applications offered for download, etc. Digitization of the world takes place on a forced march, and only those actors (states, companies, organizations) that are fastest, most willing and able to innovate will succeed. For Senegal, it is time to move from intentions to action, accelerate integration into the digital world to make the most of the digital economy. To do so, it is essential to get out of the compliance highways, to think differently and to take concrete action in order to cross a digital “New Frontier”. To achieve this, it is essential to have a clear, simple vision that is capable of mobilizing energies and defining them in actions that are concrete, measurable and ambitious. Regarding the vision, its formulation has varied according to the changes in regimes, but the background has not changed much: it has always been to make Senegal a country of services, to build an e-Senegal. Without wanting to replace me with the decision-makers, I would like to propose a formulation that allows us to follow the path of true development: “Become, by 2017, a country recognized in the world for socio-economic impact and quality Of its digital services “. To realize this ambition, without pretending to want to draw up a comprehensive action plan that requires broad consultation with all stakeholders in the sector, I feel it is necessary to implement some urgent measures:

Restore and sustainably control the quality of telecommunications services, including the Internet, through a charter that could be called “meeting the challenge of QoS”. Beyond the contractual obligations of the specifications and the possible financial penalties that have never settled anything, the public commitment of the operators and the state represented by the ARTP will raise and maintain – Within a reasonable timeframe of 6 to 12 months – Senegal ranks first in QoS in rankings by reputable organizations; First in Africa, then in the world; Launch, in consultation with operators and other interested actors, a “4G now” initiative consisting of having a broad coverage of the population in high and high-speed Internet services within a period of 3 to 4 years, according to technical modalities And financial resources to be negotiated. For example, Rwanda has decided to cover 95% of its population in 4 years of high-speed 4G Internet services with the aim of “creating jobs, supporting social progress and propelling economic growth”; Provide significant support to service companies, start-ups and developers in order to elicit future champions emergence: a. By enabling CTIC Dakar, which is doing remarkable work, to broaden its activities, by providing resources and resources and by opening other incubators as close as possible to universities and institutes of higher studies, B. By setting up innovative financing to support the development of digital services that are potentially of high economic and / or social impact or likely to be exported. The telecommunications operators, who are the strongest players in the sector, will have to be strongly encouraged to contribute;

Make the state a model in the promotion and use of digital services: this will necessarily mean a bold policy for the development of digital administrative services. The state, through the ADIE, will be able to make two strokes of a stone by entrusting the projects to local companies and developers: to bring useful services to the populations and to contribute to the emergence of new champions; Identifying and defining promising areas to which the efforts and resources of the public authorities will be given priority. There is no shortage of candidates: Payment and mobile banking: in the order of $ 170 billion in 2012, according to IDC Financial, the volume of global mobile transactions would reach $ 1,000 billion by 2017, “The Internet of things”, in other words the “machine-to-machine”: 50 billion connected objects planned in the world in 2020, C. Data centers and cloud services: Gartner assessed the global cloud market at $ 68.3 billion in 2010, with a forecast of $ 149 billion in 2014, Big Data solutions which constitute a new market on which a large number of players are in the process of positioning themselves. The Gartner Institute estimated the global market at $ 27 billion in 2012 and considers it could rise to $ 55 billion by 2016, The development of high-level local expertise on topics such as IP V6, high and very high-speed mobile technologies, development of services and applications in the most current operating systems and environments, and also The most promising, network security, Services and applications based on local and African content, a field that is still under-explored. In reality, the opportunities are almost limitless and some, particularly in Africa, remain unexplored. Senegal has many assets in hand to succeed brilliantly. It is still, and above all, a matter of foresight, boldness, resolution and, above all, the capacity for execution which “consists in translating decisions into action, implementing them despite resistance, chaos or unforeseen obstacles . Whoever possesses this quality knows that winning is a matter of results. »3 Samba Sene, August 2013 Actor in the ICT sector Sambasene@wissafrica.com

 

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