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
Liquid Telecom, RBH to acquire NeotelLiquid Telecom, a privately owned pan-African telecoms group majority owned by Econet Global, has entered into an agreement to acquire South African communications network operator Neotel. Read More
MTN Nigeria gets indigenous Chief Financial OfficerMTN Nigeria has announced the appointment of Adekunle Awobodu as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Read More
Networks Unlimited partners with RubrikNetworks Unlimited has been named as sole distributor of Rubrik converged data management solutions in Africa. Read More
Payroll fraud: a serious threat to your business’s sustainabilityPayroll is one of the largest expenses for Small & Medium Businesses and larger enterprises in West Africa, yet many organisations are neglecting the importance of managing the risk of fraud in this area of the business. Read More
Nigeria goes live with Bsystems Collateral Registry SystemNigeria has become the fourth country to roll onto the Collateral Registry System developed by Ghanaian technology solution firm Bsystems. Read More
Arbitration to support justice, says GlobacomGlobacom Nigeria says its support of the International Chamber of Commerce, (ICC) Africa Regional Arbitration Conference in Lagos is a demonstration of its belief that arbitration would further enhance the cause of justice in the country. Read More
Dimension Data names new group CEODimension Data has announced the appointment of Jason Goodall as Group Chief Executive Officer, as Brett Dawson, current CEO, steps down after 12 years. Read More
Solar developer Phanes Group opens African head office in SAInternational solar energy developer, investment manager and asset manager Phanes Group has launched an office in Johannesburg, South Africa – its first African office. Read More
We’re insulated from Nigeria’s forex problem, says IHSIHS Towers says it has not been hard hit by ongoing foreign exchange (forex) squeeze in Nigeria because it is a foreign direct investment (FDI) vehicle into the country. Read More
8 Lessons for entrepreneurs who want to conquer the worldSage Foundation Chairman Ivan Epstein outlines his top advice for entrepreneurs. Read More
FEATURED STORYGovernment should encourage youths in ICT early
Youths should be given more encouragement to develop their ICT skills, an 11-year-old app developer told Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHIBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South Africa
IBM is opening a new IBM Cloud Data Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new cloud center is the result of a close collaboration with Gijima and Vodacom and is designed to support cloud adoption and customer demand across the continent.
COMPANY NEWSTigo, JI and GES equip teachers on child online protection initiative
Tigo, in partnership with J Initiative (JI), a youth focused non-governmental organisation in Ghana, have committed to protecting children online through policy advocacy, awareness creation, public education ...Ericsson and King’s College London demonstrate 5G tactile robotic surgery
Ericsson and King’s College London will be demonstrating a 5G use case of tactile robotic surgery at 5G World 2016 in London on 29-30 June.Tigo Business – Building trusted business partner relationships with clients
Tigo Business has increased and empowered its account management team to improve its overall customer service experience.