ISSUE 154: THE REALITIES OF THE SENEGALESE INTERNET MARKET
Based on information from OSIRIS you said "..Senegal ISP INF247 has closed down. According to Osiris, it was largely focused on providing services to American NGOs."
The reality is more like this..
Since 1998, inf247 provided services (in jumps and starts) to several NGO’s as well as general inet users. Our service had, for a 1 year period (1999/2000) served the GOS Ministry of Health at more than 20 district and regional health centers, and prior to Early 2002 had up to 240 different private users. The course of INET history in Senegal is dominated by SONATEL and their former sister Telecomplus. This relationship was born following the purchase of 33% of Sonatel by France TV/Video in 1996/97.
The high cost of LS service for any ISP operator has caused several smaller efforts, like inf247, to have erractic, or subsequently no service. With no other choice for INET routing out of the country, all potential ISP businesses are forced to deal with Sonatel (France Telecom) and it’s new step sister Sonatel Multimedia.
Senegal, while having a quality TCOMM infrastructure, second in Africa to SA, is hobbled by the inefficient and competition wary services of Sonatel (France Telecom). With revenues rolling in, in this one horse market, it is no wonder SONATEL/FT are so efficient at drowning other services in billing errors, cutting service without notice, and are uncapable of honestly correcting mistakes and assisting would be and smaller ISP’s in their efforts at serving a growing number of users.
Having offed Metissacana, the 1st OTHER provider of INET connection services, over a 5 year period, and weeding out the likes of JOKO, inf247, WAIST, and a few smaller efforts, SONATEL MM remains king of the heap. Granted most users in Senegal feel lucky to just get a connection and finish their business before they are cutoff. Mediocrity, and one-handed sharing have a long history in Senegal, and until the politico/monetary grip is lossened, will remain the soup du jour in Dakar.
We had great customers who stayed with us during all of our fight with Sonatel. We wish to thank them for their faith and hope in us. Our experience was a good lesson for our business and another tale of woe in the African IT history. We understand our users, and colleagues frustrations at the limit of choices and crushing bureacracy with regard to Sonatel, and wish them well in our absence.
John S. Metzger
inf247 Inc., Africa s.a.