Senegal power hampers Internet café growth

BUSINESS

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Senegal power hampers Internet café growth

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).

 



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

SA Competition Tribunal approves Telkom-BCX merger

Business Connexion Group Limited has announced that the Competition Tribunal of South Africa has approved the proposed merger between Business Connexion Group Limited ("BCX") and Telkom SA SOC Limited ("Telkom") with the imposition of conditions. Read More

Kenyan SACCOS riding on innovation to attract customers

As confidence in mainstream banks remains low due to prohibitive interest rates, customers are embracing Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCO) as an alternative. Read More

BITC invites ICT investors

The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) is casting its net wide to appeal to players in the Information Technology sector to invest in the country. Read More

Yudala ‘an unstoppable movement’, says Zinox chief

Yudala VP Stanley Uzoechina, Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe and Zinox CEO Leo Stan-Ekeh The opening of Yudala outlets, combining an online shopping platform with retail stores, has been described as a game-changer in Nigeria. Read More

Travelport, TTS sign reseller agreement for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region

Travelport and TTS have signed a sales and distribution agreement for TTS products in the Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific regions. Read More

Airbnb to expand further across Africa

Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, announced that its CEO, Brian Chesky will attend GES 2015 to meet with entrepreneurs from around the world and explore the sharing economy’s impact and expansion, particularly on the African continent - which represents a huge opportunity for the company.  Read More

What African entrepreneurs want

On the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, GeoPoll, the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and the U.S. State Department have released a survey of 1,000 business owners throughout sub-Saharan Africa on entrepreneurship in their countries. Read More

ISON eyes 25,000 jobs, $400m in Nigeria

Pravin Kumar ISON Group has projected the creation of 25,000 new jobs and $400 million revenue within space of one or two years in Nigeria. Read More

NEC invests in XON to accelerate regional African growth

NEC Europe, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, has invested in XON, the sub-Sahara African ICT group, and the two organisations will have an integrated market approach that will combine their local expertise in the region to provide greater sales coverage in the sub-Sahara African market. Read More

Orange, Airtel in talks on acquisitions

Orange and Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV, have entered into an exclusive agreement to explore the possible acquisition by Orange of four Airtel subsidiaries.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4Afrika

FEATURED STORY

Kenyan SACCOS riding on innovation to attract customersKenyan SACCOS riding on innovation to attract customers

As confidence in mainstream banks remains low due to prohibitive interest rates, customers are embracing Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCO) as an alternative.

IN DEPTH

As curtain falls on MDGs, what next?As curtain falls on MDGs, what next?

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.