Senegal has an excellent telecommunications infrastructure, which is digitized. Sonatel, Senegal’s main telecommunications operator, continues to dominate the market. It was privatized in 1997 with France Telecom as the strategic partner. Liberalization of some services accompanied privatization. Two companies now provide cellular telephone services, and there is a competitive Internet services market. As a result, there has been a boom of Internet-related activities and services and in cell phone usage.
In 2007, sales generated by the telecommunications sector accounted for more than 7 percent of the GDP. These last few years have witnessed the spectacular growth of mobile telephony with 3,434,000 subscribers in 2007 and 1,537,000 respectively in 2005. The country has around 278,000 landlines for 11.9 million inhabitants. In addition, cable, telex, fax and Internet services are available. The Internet penetration rate is low (0.19 percent). A number of cyber cafés are located in Dakar and other cities.
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 spectrum. The long-awaited telecommunications sector deregulation became effective in July 2004, with the release of a sectoral letter that outlines the IT policy for the coming years. Telecommunications entrepreneurs who had hoped for a sweeping deregulation will be facing a regime of guided deregulation instead.
The Government wants Senegal to be a haven for teleprocessing services, with its advantageous geographic position, relatively good telecommunications infrastructure and relatively low wages. A number of joint ventures call centers and the telemarketing businesses have sprung up, most of them servicing the French market.
There are currently three cellular companies: the former Alizé, now Orange owned by Sonatel, Tigo/Sentel, 75 percent owned by Millicom International Cellular, and Expresso/Sudatel. Orange has roughly two thirds of the cellular market, but Tigo is rapidly gaining market share. In November 2007 the third mobile license was awarded to Sudan's Sudatel for $200 million. The license also permits Sudatel to offer fixed line telephony and internet service (for which Sonatel had a monopoly).
International calls to most countries can be dialed directly. The country code for Senegal is 221. Senegal's numbering system is as follows:
Full article ▸