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New Information and Communication Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities for the Senegalese Economy (Draft)
Within sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal is a pioneer in the field of new information and communications technologies (NICTs). In the wake of the serious problems experienced by Senegal since the end of the 1970s, the state has come to regard NICTs as a basic ingredient in restoring the national economy's role in world trade. In this respect, Senegal brings a unique combination of assets to bear: its geographic proximity to Europe and the Americas; a highly educated population; a vast commercial and financial trade network drawing on a young and energetic émigré population; and a relatively well-developed telecommunications infrastructure capable of providing highly competitive services.
Thus, the Senegalese economy should be well positioned to attract increasing foreign investment in NICTs and to benefit from the sector's continuing expansion. However, despite increased growth and the influx of capital made possible by the 1994 devaluation of the country’s currency, the CFA franc, Senegal has been slow to take advantage of this enormous potential and of the opportunity to become a service economy.
This paper attempts to analyse the challenges—both in terms of the opportunities and of the risk of marginalization—that NICTs represent for Senegal's growth and social development, examining the steps that Senegal must take to leverage the opportunities that NICTs provide for regaining a share in the international division of labour. The analysis is divided into five parts. The first describes the major structural characteristics of the Senegalese economy; the second details the methods and means by which NICTs are being developed; the third evaluates supply and demand for services related to these technologies; the fourth, focusing on telecommunications as the centre-piece of these technologies, examines the current relationship between this industry and others within the economy; and the fifth examines the nature of the constraints that the Senegalese economy must overcome in order to become part of the technological revolution.
This is the draft English translation of Daffé and Dansokho’s contribution to the volume Le Sénégal à l'heure de l'information: Technologies et société (edited by Momar-Coumba Diop, Editions Karthala, Paris and UNRISD, Geneva, 2002).
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