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
GrowthAfrica, Usahibu partner to solve SME accounting issuesKenyan accelerator GrowthAfrica has partnered cloud computing firm Uhasibu in a bid to address the accounting and financial software needs of East African startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Read More
Top 10 risks worth considering when expanding into AfricaCompanies planning to expand across Africa must make a concerted effort to understand the risks, and not assume they “know” Africa, says ContinuitySA. Read More
Shop Soko connects Kenyan artisans to lucrative international marketsA new e-commerce platform, Shop Soko, is helping Kenyans access a lucrative international market. Read More
Ricoh SA begins rollout of new services-led strategy, Africa expansionJacques van Wyk has been appointed Ricoh SA’s new COO to drive the expanded strategy that will enable the business to become a services-led organisation and see its expansion into the rest of Africa. Read More
Stock Exchange launches news serviceA news service by the name of X-News has become the latest product coming from the local bourse, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) recently. Read More
Telkom forays into Botswana through acquisitionSouth African telecommunications giant Telkom is making inroads into the Botswana market through the acquisition of an ICT company, Business Connexion (BCX). Read More
Umati Capital secures $10m finance line from ApexPeakKenyan financial tech startup Umati Capital has agreed a deal with ApexPeak securing its first line of wholesale capital. Read More
Kirusa acquires Ghana’s Saya MobileVoice messaging and social media apps firm Kirusa has acquired Ghana-based Saya Mobile, which provides instant messaging apps geared specifically for African consumers. Read More
SAP to invest up to $500m in African innovationSAP has announced a long-term commitment to regional expansion, sustainable growth and skills development of up to 10,000 IT consultants in Africa. Read More
Microsoft, UNDP partner to support Ethiopian entrepreneursMicrosoft has signed a collaborative agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under which Microsoft will provide training and mentorship services to 200,000 Ethiopian entrepreneurs. Read More
FEATURED STORYSafaricom-Equity battle for mobile banking hots up
Equity bank's entry to the mobile banking and telephony industry is still hanging in the balance with London-based global association of mobile operators (GSMA) calling for independent audit.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture
In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.