Viva Senegal: How This West African Nation Became Africa’s Quiet High-Tech Titan
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
All too often conversations on the digital scene in Africa look to the East – focusing on the gains being made in Rwanda and Kenya in particular.
When they do go West, Nigeria takes precedence because of the sheer size of the country’s economy and population, dwarfing the remarkable progress made by (Francophone) Senegal, which is not fully acknowledged in both the dominant regional and international technology press that is written in English.
Currently in Senegal, 83% of the population has a mobile telephone with 40% of these being smartphones allowing users to access the internet. This has seen tremendous growth in the country. In 2013 20.90% of the population was using the internet, compared to 1.9% in Ethiopia or 12.30% in Ghana.
At an average of 10% of GDP, Senegal’s ICT investments easily beat South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and the world average and as more of the population gets online, the government is seeking to meet the demand whilst actively growing the sector and fostering innovation within the country.
In 2009, the government launched it’s own intranet resource centre which allows it to use e-government to strengthen the use of Information Technology and Communication (ICT) for the development of the country.
For example, in the first phase of education services, five universities were interconnected with very high bandwidth, providing them the opportunity to share their teaching resources via videoconferencing and other distance learning techniques. This type of development in ICT has seen Senegal ranked 12th in Africa by the 2014 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ICT Development Index.