Senegal power hampers Internet café growth
BUSINESS| Dec. 10, 2012, 8:36 a.m.
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal
Moussa Fall cuts a forlorn figure behind the desk of his internet café in the bustling township of Parcelles Assainies in Senegal’s capital city Dakar. “It has been an hour since the power went off,” he tells Biztechafrica.
“It’s the same picture every single day in Dakar. We are suffering a lot,” Fall says emotionally. “If things don’t improve next year, I’ll close down and leave the country,” he charges, fuming.
Internet Cafés – or cyber cafés as they are called in Francophone Africa – have been at the forefront of the digital revolution in the ‘dark continent’, where very few people possess computers at home, and where the mobile internet explosion failed dismally to improve internet penetration.
Mete Yildiz, Dr Türksel Kaya Bensghir and Ayhan Çankaya also emphasised the economic role of Internet cafés, saying that since the economic activity on the Internet (e-commerce, e-trade) is becoming a substantial part of the overall global economic activity, providing Internet access to the citizens will enlarge the customer base of the economy.
But when electricity supply in Africa suffers, Internet cafés owners also suffer and mourn.
“We don’t have a problem with connectivity or speed here in Dakar, but our major problem is power outages. You can’t make money if the electricity keeps going in and out every time. A lot of people, from travellers to business people, tertiary students, pupils, Skype users and online lovers depend on us,” Fall says.
As he spoke, a couple of customers waited outside, probably to escape the simmering heat of Senegal, hoping and praying that dear power will be restored so that they can start where they left off.
“I have an assignment to type, submit and email but now this, hey Senegal is no good,” complains 2nd year accounting student Amina Ndour.
Cyber cafés can function as centres for support, education and learning about new tools, and therefore could help people overcome skill deficits which would normally exclude them from access to information and new technologies, according to A.H Haseloff.
Due to the lack of credible figures to quantify these tools - nobody has bothered to conduct a survey of these digital houses so far – their exact number in Senegal and Africa is relatively unknown.
In spite of the increasing importance of Internet cafés, very limited research has been reported on their diffusion, even in areas of Asia and Africa, where they represent a major means of access to digital information and communication, Bjorn Furuholt and Stein Kristiansen, from Agder University College in Norway, explain in Internet Cafés in Asia and Africa –
Venues for Education and Learning?
As it is the case all over Africa, where unemployment is rife, most Senegalese Internet cafés owners and managers are IT graduates and skilled disillusioned by successive governments’ inability to create jobs in the ICT sector.
The Association for Progressive Communications reports that Senegal’s young graduates have difficulty finding work, and there are no visible structures specialised in financing ICT-related projects.
“There are very few IT jobs in Senegal, I regret coming back home and I regret even more for opening this Internet café,” a visibly pissed off Jean-Baptiste Ndiaye says after power failed to come back after half-an-hour.
Ndiaye says he had big business plans, including opening two internet cafés in rural towns.
“If Dakar’s electricity is so unreliable, I wonder how bad the situation is in the countryside,” he says.
In Senegal, 57% of households have electricity, 27% in the rural areas against 88% in urban areas, according to a 2012 survey published by the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Démographie (ANSD).
MORE BUSINESS NEWS
DHL to invest millions of Euros across SSA in 2015DHL plans to invest millions in upgrading its shipment handling systems and facilities in SSA this year. Read More
Ebenezer Asante to assume CEO role of MTN GhanaEbenezer Twum Asante will officially assume the position of Chief Executive Officer for MTN Ghana, effective 1st July, 2015. Read More
Nomanini scales West African footprint with Transaction Solutions partnershipSouth African-based portable Point of Sale (PoS) service provider Nomanini has signed an exclusive agreement with Transactions Solutions Ghana Limited to substantially scale numbers of its cloud-based PoS terminals in Ghana. Read More
Online procurement system for East Africa goes liveKenyan IT start-up M-Tenders Systems has created East Africa’s first live online procurement system, www.m-tenders.com. Read More
Customer experience starts with staff experienceCompanies seeking to improve customer experience to boost business may be overlooking a critical component in the mix: staff, says new Interactive Intelligence research. Read More
MasterCard, Ecobank Group to accelerate e-payment in SSAEcobank, Africa’s largest bank by geographical reach, will roll out MasterCard payment solutions to millions of its customers in Africa. Read More
Travellers more tech savvy78% of global travellers are using digital information while planning their trips; 66% resorting to digital sources for travel tips at the destination, says Visa. Read More
Standard Chartered appoints Chief Innovation OfficerStandard Chartered Bank says it has appointed Ms Anju Patwardhan as the Bank’s first Group Chief Innovation Officer, effective 1 July 2015. Read More
Cameroon: a well-kept investment secretThe investment opportunities in Cameroon are wide open, believes Africa strategy advisor for Moore Stephens, Jeff Blackbeard, who recently met with Cameroonian Prime Minister Philémon Yang. Read More
FEATURED STORYIHS plans to inject fresh $500m to grow capacity
Mohammed Darwish, managing director of IHS Towers, says the firm will soon inject another $500million into the business after raising some $2.5billion to finance expansion drives. Darwish spoke with biztecafrica.com in Lagos.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAs curtain falls on MDGs, what next?
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.
COMPANY NEWSMTN Business expands partnership with Samsung to offer enterprise customers increased security
Samsung Electronics South Africa has announced that MTN Business has been appointed as a reseller of Samsung’s KNOX licenses to its customers.