Senegal’s telecoms watchdog, the Regulation Authority of Post and Telecoms (Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes, ARTP), has published its market observatory for the three months ending 30 September 2015, highlighting that whilst the mobile market continues to expand, the rate of growth has slowed to a near standstill in 2015. According to its findings, a total of 89,066 net new users were added in the three-month period, boosting the country total to over 14.908 million, from 14.819 million at end-June and 14.352 million at 30 September 2014. The report confirms, however, that quarter-on-quarter growth rates this year have eased from 2.22% (Q1), to 0.82% (Q2) and 0.60% (Q3), as the incumbent operators fight for new users in an increasingly saturated market where cellular penetration has passed the 100% mark.
Mobile market leader Orange saw its share of the pie contract marginally in Q3 as it shed a net 89,774 users for a total of 8.328 million (55.9% of the market), and second-placed Tigo also lost ground with its base contracting from 3.469 million to 3.406 million over the same period. The beneficiary was third-placed Expresso, which boosted its total by a net 241,853 users for a total of nearly 3.175 million – and increased its market share by over two percentage points in the process.
In its report, the industry watchdog noted that while the market is continuing to thrive, it has concerns over the collective failure of the incumbents to deliver the expected improvement in the quality of Senegal’s network coverage. According to its findings, even in Dakar – where the cellcos each have their operational headquarters – a large part of the population are still without ‘effective’ coverage. ARTP’s Abdou Karim Sall said: ‘The population not covered by the 3G network in Dakar is 26.69% for Orange, 47.42% for Tigo and 52.38% for Expresso.’ The official noted that for many thousands of paying telecoms customers there, quality of service (QoS) is ‘jeopardised by poor network coverage’. Further, the ARTP found that in Senegal’s 45 administrative departments, in addition to the poor 2G coverage, only Orange had a 3G network in each department, with Tigo covering just twelve and Expresso having no 3G coverage at all outside of Dakar, Saint Louis, Thies, Fatick, Kaolock, Tambacounda & Diourbe.