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The telecommunications industry in Senegal plays an important part in the country's economic development. According to the Senegalese government statistical service the industry accounts for $1.4bn of revenue, which is equivalent to approximately 11% of the country's GDP (2011 figures).
Wireless subscription has seen rapid growth over the last 10 years following investment in mobile infrastructure. Fixed lines have also seen a significant increase in adoption after 2008, including a surge in demand for ADSL lines.
The rise in mobile services happened after action was taken to tackle the chronic problems that kept fixed networks on the ground. Specifically, these issues relate to high connection fees and recurrent monthly payments that are not attractive for the vast majority of sub-Saharan African subscribers. The industry really blossomed when it launched prepaid mobile schemes, with low connection fees, and enabled micro payments.
Since early 2010, broadband has also been increasing at a growth rate similar to that of mobile subscriptions. However, the broadband market is still in the early stages of its development, with subscriber penetration in the low single digits. Occasional internet users in Senegal exceed the numbers of subscribers for the reason that Senegal is home to over 4,000 cafes that offer communal access to basic services like telephone, internet, and fax.
The Senegalese market appears to be in a transitional phase in terms of its telecommunications industry. With mobile telephony having already made a large impact on the economy, this West- African country has managed to improve its basic communication needs and overcome the impediment of low fixed lines adoption. However, higher connection speeds through 3G or fixed broadband networks are needed. These connections are costly to build and use while the country appears to be in a somewhat uncertain economic situation. ADSL lines never took off, both due to affordability and coverage. But 3G looks like a strong candidate to put the country on the global broadband map.
Two mobile operators (Sonatel and Expresso) are competing in this spectrum band. Given the high risk and cost of this undertaking, operators would welcome regulatory incentives to invest in mobile broadband. Given the extensive coverage of existing mobile networks these applications would ensure a steady growth of mobile data demand and broadband adoption in Senegal, particularly in rural areas.
In practice, Senegal offers a fertile technological ground, already ripe for a variety of telecommunications applications and services. According to industry analysts, mobile subscription penetration in Senegal is expected to reach 105% by 2017.
For more information on the Senegal telecommunications market, see the latest research: Senegal Telecommunications Market
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