Senegal – land of the de-facto Internet monopoly – is urged to encourage greater competition and innovation to improve penetration levels

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Senegal has always been the country where competition has a very different meaning. In the Internet sector, Orange-owned Sonatel controls pretty much the whole of the market. There are almost no ISPs or alternative data operators. At a recent event held by Google, there were a number of calls for the Government and regulator to open up the market to competition and innovation.

Isabelle Gross, Head of Research, Balancing Act and author of a study entitled "Challenges and Opportunities for the democratization of broadband Internet in Senegal" urged Senegal to offer more competition and better regulation to boost internet access in Senegal.

"We heard a lot about Senegal in terms of potential and very little in terms of success. Since 2005, there have been no new strategies ... in terms of political strategies, there has been a lot of discussion and little action", Isabelle Gross said during her presentation last Monday in Dakar

She said that the increase in Internet penetration has been slow in recent years and outlined the main obstacles to the development of access Internet in Senegal. Among these obstacles, she noted were, "insufficient political leadership, the dramatic reduction in the number of Internet service providers, ISPs, and low regulation."

To address this situation, the report for Google made a number of recommendations: "On the international capacity, there needs to be more transparency and the regulation to achieve this. At the level of local access and diversity of Internet services, it will have to make an effort and combine certain licenses and authorization. (In this way) it can stimulate local access and diversity of Internet services, "she said.

According to the study, the introduction of alternative technologies contributes to the diversification of offers. "In Kenya, for example, Wananchi group has put on the market Fiber to Home which has experienced a growth rate of 300% in one year. Today, the company offers solutions Triple Play (TV, Internet and VoIP). In South Africa, many ISPs operate wireless solutions such as WiMAX and CDMA solutions,"said a statement from Google.

Below is a link to a video in French made of the Google workshop on the topic in Senegal and an interview with the reports’ author, Isabelle Gross, Balancing Act:

by Senegal Media workshop on restitution and an interview with Isabelle Gross Balancing Act, the report's author commendité Google Senegal.

The report (also in French) - "Obstacles and opportunities for the democratization of broadband Internet in Senegal” - can be downloaded from the clicking here:

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